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Recruiter’s Corner: ‘You’re a marketer, use your superpowers to elevate your career'

You've got the powers, so use them for your own benefit as well

In this edition of Recruiter’s Corner, Pree Rao, head of Egon Zehnder’s North American chief marketing officer’s practice, offers his thoughts on how marketers can use their existing skills in conquering their careers. He touches on the most common mistakes marketers make when looking for a job; offers three insights for elevating the role of marketing within your existing company; and concludes with one North Star marketers should always keep in mind.

The three most common mistakes marketers make when conducting a job search:

1. Not getting lower on the organizational funnel. As a marketer, you inherently understand that the end game is conversion and advocacy. The same is true of your job search. Figure out who is relevant at your target companies and what your messaging is to them. Then figure out which audiences are untapped and tap into them.

Sometimes the talent acquisition folks at companies don’t get pinged often. Ping them so you become a warm lead. Or maybe there’s someone who is a newer consultant for a big recruiting firm who does not necessarily have the same network of some of the more established folks. Reach out to them. Cultivate your network and you’ll become someone that job leads start coming to organically.

2. Blasting the same blanket message to every recruiter. Sending the same, undifferentiated message, like your job search is some old direct mail campaign, is not a good plan. If recruiters are talking to one another and we hear you sent the same message to 10 of us, then all of a sudden you won’t feel like someone who should be our focus – especially now that things are super busy. Treat your job search with the same care you’d treat your latest campaign.

3. Being transactional. When I was a marketer, I would get really frustrated when I had a great conversation with a recruiter and then I didn’t hear back from them. I’d think, ‘What the heck! Why are they not combing the corners of the earth for me? How transactional!’ What I didn’t realize is that recruiting is a client business.

Recruiters do want to help people, but we are working on behalf of clients. I realized when I came to be a recruiter that I had been equally transactional as a job seeker because I only really reached out when I wanted something. A better approach: figure out which recruiters you like, and vice versa, because naturally you want to work with people you like. And then think longer term, create relationships, and be known as someone who shares great ideas – not just one who calls when they are looking for a new role.

Three musts for succeeding within your current organization:

1. Turn the marketing lens on internal stakeholders. Marketers have a marketing problem internally. They are experts at understanding the consumer or customer at a very segmented level, and creating messaging about what their product or service is and delivering it effectively. But they need to do a better job taking that same lens and applying it internally.

Really think about speaking the language of the business and treat internal stakeholders with same care as external ones. For example, if you go to your supply chain and are preaching brand love? Good luck! If you go to finance and start talking about your latest campaign, there may be some intellectual curiosity, but that’s not going to move the needle. You need to really understand the internal stakeholders and use your skillset to elevate marketing’s seat at the table.

2. Hold leadership’s feet to the fire. What you say to the outside world about who you are as a brand and a business has to be reflected internally. This includes representing the voice of the consumer from a diversity and inclusion perspective. If you’re talking about sustainability, you have to live it too. You don’t want your brand to sound that guy at the party who is just talking, blah blah blah... there has to be real credibility. Marketers have to hold their organization’s feet to the fire to achieve that credibility.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of the fundamentals. It wasn’t that long ago that being a consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketer was sexy. Then, and I experienced this as part of my own journey, people started saying, ‘You’re a CPG guy. You can’t do anything.’ And performance marketing skills became en vogue.

I would argue that the fundamentals are still crucial. That hasn’t changed, but the tools are really, really different. This means more challenges, but also more opportunities for today’s marketers. Brand, performance, user experience design – these are tools you have to drive top and bottom-line results, a focus that will never change.

The one thing marketers must never lose sight of:

Dig in deep on why you are a marketer. Why did you get into marketing? Make sure you know where you are getting your energy from. So much of our waking days are spent at work, and then you add up the time you spend thinking about work... it’s got to be something you love, at the end of the day.

With marketing, it could be that you’re a competitive person. That you like to make an impact. There’s a lot of ways to answer that question, but it’s really important to personally be crisp on answering the ‘why’ of what motivates you and makes you feel fulfilled.

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