Selling Air: Marketing Your Entry-Level Career
Written by Teena Rose, a columnist, public speaker, and certified/published resume writer with Resume to Referral. She’s authored several books, including "20-Minute Cover Letter Fixer" and "Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales."
Everything has a market. If you could go back in time thirty years and tell someone people would actually be buying water in 2005 for prices higher than gasoline, you would probably be severely ridiculed. Go back fifteen years and tell someone that you would actually be able to purchase air in an oxygen bar and they would think you had been hitting the sauce. Water and oxygen are interesting products because they are readily available, free, and vital to life. There has been a demand created for them out of, well, thin air.
The basic principle of selling air or water is the same as selling an entry-level career in which you have no experience. Entry-level workers are cheap, plentiful, and easily found. As a new graduate/entry-level worker with little or no real experience, what can you do to sell your experience to employers? The same as if you were selling air – package it well, market it effectively, and create a demand.
Packaging your budding entry-level career is the first and most important step to getting your start. How you present your background and education in an entry-level resume is the make-or-break point. You have 35 to 60 seconds to pique the interest of the employer in your non-experience. The entry-level resume should be hard-hitting and aggressively written in order to gain that attention.
The key is to find your point of individuality and play upon it. Each brand of bottled water has a “claim to fame” whether it is that the water is from a mountain spring, or it is flavored, or it is vitamin-enriched, etc. You can do the same thing with your entry-level resume. Do you have an exceptional academic record that can be highlighted in your entry-level resume? Do you have an internship that adds value to your degree? Have you worked your way through school and financed your own education? There is something in everyone’s background that is notable and can be used to advantage in an entry-level resume.
Appearance is also key to a resume. People are drawn to attractive things – it’s human nature. By packaging your qualities in an attractive, eye-catching format, your entry-level resume will automatically have an advantage over your competition. Appearance can be more than pretty whiz-bangs in a Word format. Even database-friendly entry-level resumes can be made more attractive with the strategic use of spacing, font size, and placement of text.
Marketing yourself as a valuable entry-level hire is the second component of success. How do you go about getting your entry-level resume to employers who are seeking trainable workers? With the Internet, sending out your entry-level resume is very easy, but are you sending to the correct people? An indiscriminate resume blast may not be the best selection if you have set strict parameters on relocation preference. You need to find out who would be in the market for entry-level workers with your education and who might be a good match for your career goals. A little (gasp!) homework might be in order!
Finding out about employers and selecting those in the market for entry-level personnel is called market research. A little research on employers, their goals, and the work opportunities they offer will assist you in being more focused in your hunt for that first “real” job. It will also provide insight on how best to approach a company. Knowing what the employer wants helps you to position yourself as the best choice. Just as product manufacturers do market research before they launch a new product, you can do the same to better market your entry-level career.
Creating demand is the third aspect of marketing your entry-level career. Personal career branding backed by solid research and an excellent entry-level resume will compel potential employers to contact you about joining their teams. Demand can also be further enhanced during the interview by being well-prepared, mature, and knowledgeable. An entry-level candidate who is eager, open to training, and flexible is desirable by employers.
As an entry-level job seeker, you essentially are selling “air” - lack of experience. To do that, you must create a great package (a resume), market it strategically, and create the demand. Most people take air for granted and laugh at the thought of paying for it. Put those same people at the top of Pikes Peak where the rarified air of 13,000+ feet is thin and most will pay for air at the oxygen bar at the summit café. Air can be very valuable to those in need.