Embracing the 'marketing' mindset to win more interim work
Winning work is about marketing rather than just using recruitment agencies writes Matt Craven of CVIA Careers. This article takes an interesting view of how interims and independent professionals can grow their business and stay off the bench.
Most interims and other types of independent professionals started their careers in permanent jobs and gravitated towards their independent status once they had gained enough experience. The legacy of this is that many independent professionals still approach their endeavors to win work as if they were a job seeker rather than a business.
All businesses have some kind of marketing and business development strategy, with supporting marketing collateral that is designed to convince customers to use their services, yet for some reason, independent professionals (who are after all, business owners) are often reluctant to embrace this logic.
The truth is, those who are successful do embrace this logic and have developed marketing strategies and supporting marketing collateral to underpin their efforts to win work.
Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes and some unexplored opportunities for marketing your business.
Consider this – businesses don’t have homemade websites! So why would you have a homemade CV/resume?! It’s your most important tool for winning work and 92% of shortlisting decisions are made through careful scrutiny of this all-important document. Spending several hours making your CV/resume as sharp as it can be, or engaging some professional help is definitely a smart move.
It's also important to sell you and your business’ capabilities through your CV/resume. A document that applies the use of marketing techniques is likely to perform better than a more basic CV/resume that is prevalent in the job seeker market. As a bare minimum, make sure your CV/resume communicates your market positioning, incorporates examples of client engagements, and includes social proof i.e., previous client feedback.
Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is now a critical tool for networking and marketing yourself to clients with 85% of decision-makers likely to check out your profile. Your LinkedIn profile should be a lot more than a copy and paste of your CV and should incorporate a value proposition, a description of how you can add value to your clients, as well as providing some examples to showcase the work you have done for clients.
We recommend using the WHOSEES formula, which is as simple as describing who (or what) you are, describing your strengths, providing a couple of examples, describing your ethos (or philosophy) to your work, and finishing up with a list of key skills. Oh, and remember to have a call to action, so potential clients know how to reach out to you.
Fundamental to business success is using the power of networking to develop relationships with the right people at the right time to expand your potential client base. Networking doesn’t come naturally to many people, but those who embrace it have less business downtime during the year than those who don’t.
Simple tactics such as re-connecting with previous clients a few months after each assignment can be very fruitful, but there are a variety of other networking strategies that you can use to grow your business.
LinkedIn in particular offers their Business Premium and Sales Navigator licenses that enable independent professionals to search for decision-makers, connect with them, build a relationship, and ultimately sell their services.
Client Presentations / Interviewing
It might seem obvious, but no one becomes good at anything that they don’t receive training on and then subsequently practice. The problem is that many more senior professionals think they are good in interviews even though it’s something they have done no more than a dozen times in their entire life!
The issue here is that many experienced people “come across well” and are confident communicators, but unfortunately “coming across well” shouldn’t be confused with being a good interviewer.
Mapping out all your key career events including successes, failures, achievements, and projects is a great place to start. By writing down and learning your career, you will develop a deep self-awareness of what you and your business can offer a future client and consequently become much more adept at selling yourself.
It’s very easy to rely on recruitment businesses to find you work, and why not? If they are coming up with the goods, then don’t fix what isn’t broken!
The problem is, if you are just relying on recruiters, and applying for contracts online, then you are likely to have some baron spells at some stage. Applying for positions this way can be a bit of a bun fight and successful independent professionals have a more holistic approach to their marketing efforts.
As mentioned earlier, developing an outreach strategy using LinkedIn, and embracing networking are great strategies to run alongside your applications through recruiters, but utilizing some more traditional marketing strategies can also work really well. Having a website to generate leads and using a CRM and email marketing system can be fruitful, and if you have expertise in a certain field, you can build a thought leadership strategy and attract clients through articles, blogs, and webinars.
For more information about CVs, resumes, LinkedIn profiles and interview techniques, look out for some upcoming webinars and/or check out the guides in the Association Global Career Hub.