How to Put on Your Candidate Marketing Hat During Your Job Search

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During your job search and interview process, are you mostly submitting a resume to positions, recruiters, and others in your network who are helping you get connected to hiring/staffing individuals? And then are you only bringing that resume to your virtual or onsite interviews? That is the case for most job seekers we have worked with. More often than not, they are only providing their resume, and nothing else, during the job search process. However, by engaging in more intentional "candidate marketing" techniques and strategies, you can increase the likelihood of job seeker success!


The concept of candidate marketing or branding can be a game changer in increasing the chances your resume gets seen, helping you get more interview requests, and in receiving more job offers. But what does "candidate marketing" mean exactly? It's a strategy where you are intentionally influencing your overall marketability as a candidate to be more marketable and credible for the roles you're applying for!

Let's first look at a few scenarios, where you are putting yourself in the shoes of the Manager/Recruiter. In each of these scenarios, how would your opinion be influenced and/or who would you view more favorably?

Scenario #1

A Manager is doing final interviews with five candidates for a Senior Programmer role. She is torn between two candidates who have the experience, tool set and seem to be great culture fits. After the last interviews are done, Candidate A sends a really nice follow up thank you email to the Manager, and includes three quality recommendations from past clients/Managers, as well as a non-proprietary snippet of code written in one of the core JavaScript frameworks the team is using. Candidate B sends a nice post-interview thank you note as well, but it reads more generic and doesn't re-communicate their excitement about the role, and they don't include any other "candidate marketing materials."

Scenario #2

A Recruiter who isn't very technical is reviewing applications for a position and they call 10 of the top 50 applications to have a conversation about the opportunity. He identifies five strong applicants for the role, but can only move forward with submitting three. One of his top five sends a follow up-email after their conversation with their resume and the results of four technical assessments they have completed via different providers, where they scored in the 88-94th percentile on all four.

Scenario #3

A Manager is in the midst of reviewing 10 resumes she received for one opening. She gets a knock on the door from one of her current team members whom she really respects. The team member shares that "I wanted to give you a heads up that one of the applicants for our open position is someone I know through a local Tech association/group. While I can't speak to their technical abilities, they're a regular member and have attended the Meetup group for the last 2 years, and presented at the recent SQL Saturday. They seem like a really good person, and are always warm and upbeat! I think they would fit in well with our team, and I personally would be delighted to work with them."

Scenario #4

Two candidates are interviewing for a Team Lead role. The Manager asks each one "Tell me about your leadership and management experience." Candidate A shares "I've been in a senior capacity for several years now, and enjoy mentoring junior team members. I have helped a lot with interviewing, onboarding, and coaching our junior Programmers." Candidate B shares "I've been in a leadership role for the past three years, and mentoring junior team members is one of the responsibilities that really gets me excited! I've had the pleasure of onboarding and mentoring 12 of our team members, and I built out a continuous monthly training program which I facilitate for about 15 of our team members each month. One of my LinkedIn recommendations is from one of my mentees and it speaks to that training program; I'm happy to provide that to you."

Scenario #5

A Technical Lead is interviewing three final round candidates for a mid-level role. They'll be using a new technology that has been out for less than a year, and none of the candidates have worked with it. One of the candidates shares during the interview that "I've read up on ___, and attended a local Meetup event on the topic. That really sparked my interest, and I took a couple Pluralsight courses on it! I'd be very excited to work with that professionally!"

Reaction to Scenarios

What's your reaction as you read each of these scenarios? Do you see how in each one, a candidate may get prioritized or viewed more favorably as a result of being endorsed and/or providing little "extras" that demonstrate their credibility?

There is almost always something you can do, or provide, to give yourself a leg up or a "competitive advantage" as a candidate, thereby influencing the likelihood that the Recruiter at a staffing agency or a Talent Acquisition professional within the company will submit your resume for a position, you'll get a request for an interview, and/or that you'll get selected for a job!

During the job search process, make sure you are wearing your "candidate marketing hat!" Here are some questions to ask yourself as you are evaluating and considering an opportunity you are interested in:

  1. Do I know anyone who works at this company, or who has worked with this company? Do I know them well enough to ask them to connect me directly with someone there and/or put in a good word?
    • TIP: Do an advanced search of your first degree connections on LinkedIn, filtering to only include connections who currently work at the company you are targeting.
  2. Do I have any really quality endorsements/recommendations of my work that would be powerful testimonials to share for this opportunity? Who could I ask for a recommendation that the Manager for this role would appreciate hearing from?
  3. What non-proprietary examples of my work do I have that are relevant to the responsibilities and/or requirements of this role? Is there a quick pet project I could do, such as writing an app using a technology they're using which I've only had minimal exposure to?
  4. What technologies are they using that I have limited experience with? What training courses are available to take so I'm learning about it?
  5. Have I won any awards that would be pertinent to share?
  6. How do I measure success around my work? What are my KPIs (key performance indicators)? What context/numbers can I share?
Next Steps

The bottom line is that you need to look at how you are marketing yourself, your skills, contributions, extracurricular activities, etc. and have a strategy for how you will intentionally market yourself and increase your overall marketability for the types of positions you want to pursue!

Here are some simple ways to market yourself:

  1. Write a professional thank you note. This is one of the most overlooked steps in an interview process, but it can be the deal breaker between you getting a job vs. another candidate.
  2. Provide recommendations! Nothing reinforces your candidacy like other technical professional/leaders speaking to your character, technical ability, mentoring or leadership skills, etc. Ensure your recommendations are up to date, and would be relevant to share for the job/s you are interviewing for. A best practice is to ask for a recommendation once a project is complete, major deliverable completed, etc.
    • This is also a great place to showcase any relevant awards and/or community involvement. If you have won an award, can you ask the person who selected/nominated you for that to write you a recommendation? Are you a member of a Meetup/user group? If you're actively involved, could you ask one of the organizers to write you a recommendation?
  3. Provide URLs for any additional profiles or websites you want to direct people's attention to. This could include your GitHub profile, LinkedIn profile, YouTube channel, personal website, author profile, etc.
  4. Include any relevant, non-proprietary work samples. It could be anything from a writing sample, project plan, portfolio example, link to a site you built, etc. The key here is to provide a few quality examples, not everything you've ever done. Pick the top 2-3 that showcase your abilities and will appeal to the job you're interviewing for!
  5. As you identify technologies, or versions of a technology, that a company you are interviewing for is using, find and complete a quick course on it! You can then add the course title, provider and date completed to your resume (under an 'Additional Training' section) if you'd like, and also reference it in an application and/or share during a conversation with a Recruiter/Manager.

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Cate Murray Cate Murray is responsible for managing the nationally-based talent acquisition strategies of the Apex Systems PMO and Business Analysis Practice and holds her PMP certification from PMI.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

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