7 Marketing Materials You Need in Your Job Search Toolkit

Posted by Nancy Gober
marketing materials

The most successful job seekers I’ve seen follow a process that falls into four steps: planning and strategy, marketing your skills, networking and interviewing, and negotiation. Once you’ve completed Step 1: The job seeking planning process, it’s time to market your skills in the employment marketplace.

Understanding the employment marketplace, and how it works, goes a long way toward understanding why some job seekers manage to unearth opportunities that no one else seems to find, and how they maneuver their way into networking meetings and interviews that no one else seems to get.

So it makes sense to take a little time to understand how to market your skills in the employment marketplace efficiently and effectively, because it is indeed your pipeline to new opportunities!

The Open Market

Before we dive into the seven marketing tools you need to leverage in the employment marketplace, it’s important you understand the employment marketplace is really comprised of two markets: the Open Market and the Hidden Market.

The Open Market is the part of the employment marketplace that is “open” to all to see. The key to unlocking the Open Market is to identify all sources where listings of jobs can be found. Look for security-cleared positions on the Open Market in:

  • Job search engine websites like ClearedJobs.Net
  • Advertisements in newspapers and trade journals (online and print)
  • Cleared Job Fairs
  • Staffing agencies
  • Trade association and professional society/association job boards
  • Company websites

It’s a numbers game when working in the Open Market. So keep in mind that if you can go to a website or a job fair and find these opportunities, so can your competitors. The mass awareness of these jobs means competition is keen. In sales it is routinely said: “Success is in the numbers.” The key is to pursue many opportunities when working in this market.

The Hidden Market

The Hidden Market is the part of the employment marketplace in which opportunities exist but are not visible for all to see. Over 80% of opportunities are found in the Hidden Market – so it makes sense to prioritize working in this market. The key to unlocking the Hidden Market is to identify sources of cleared jobs that cannot be openly and easily found. After all, this is the Hidden Market and it’ll take some sleuthing.

Look for positions that are not, or at least not yet, advertised on the Open Market. Identify needs that companies have and problems that are keeping management up at night but have not yet found their way into a formal job position or advertisement. Identify these opportunities by:

  • Networking, including job fairs
  • Targeting companies in industries that you are interested in and researching the companies
  • Connecting with smaller groups (veterans’ groups, professional associations, alumni associations, neighborhood functions, church and civic groups, hobbyist groups, dog walking groups, etc.) and asking questions
  • Joining or forming an After Job Club in which members network and learn of leads as they conduct their own job searches and share these leads with club members

When you are working the Hidden Market, it’s not a numbers game. Quality wins out!

It’s important to work in both markets. Both represent a source of jobs, but know how to prioritize the time you spend working in each market for maximum results and success.

Tapping Into the Market

Too many job seekers begin their search prematurely – they send out a resume that doesn’t really reflect their true goal. Or they have a networking meeting in which they offer a rambling, unclear answer when they’re asked, “So what is it you’re looking for?” In doing so, they run the risk of creating first mis-impressions, which they then have to go back and correct when they are clearer about their goal.

A better approach lies in first identifying the type(s) of work you want to do so that you convincingly tell an employer, “This is the type of work I want to do, and I can demonstrate that I am experienced, qualified, and can achieve results.”

You can achieve this clarity by crafting a set of seven essential marketing tools early in the development of your search. Think of these tools as your basic tool kit.

Marketing Tool # 1:  Elevator Speech

This is the most frequently used marketing tool. You probably thought it was a resume! You use an elevator speech every time you answer the question, “So what do you do?” Its job is to get and keep the conversation going. And it may be the hardest to craft. In 30 seconds it must convey what you do, your expertise, strengths, relevant attributes, and your objective.

Marketing Tool # 2: Resume

This is your most visible of the marketing tools. Preceding meeting you in person, your resume is most often seen by employers, recruiters, and network referrals before they see you. It creates their first impression of you.

Think of it as your sales brochure. Its job is to get you through the employer’s door. It does NOT get you hired – it gets you into the competition. Remember to customize it for each opportunity!

Marketing Tool # 3: Marketing Plan

This is the best vehicle you have to keep you focused on your goal. Your marketing plan also helps keep you organized. Remember, when you’re looking for a cleared job, you’re selling yourself, or more aptly your competencies.

A marketing plan identifies three things: (1) your objective; (2) your competencies; and (3) the employers who hire them. With so many companies to approach, so many people to contact, and so many meetings to attend, a marketing plan helps you get it all done!

Marketing Tool # 4: Networking Plan

This tool prevents you from overlooking people that could be helpful, as well as tracking your communications so that nothing falls through the cracks. Whether in the format of an Excel Spreadsheet or a paper-and-pencil list, your networking plan is a written plan…not just a list you keep in your head or address book.

It identifies the people in your entire network: professional contacts and informal contacts including previous work colleagues or those you served with in the military, service providers, clubs, hobbies, organizations, friends, family, and associates from all walks of life. You never know where a lead will come from, so overlook no one!

Marketing Tool # 5: Cover Letter

A cover letter is a short, concise letter that accompanies your resume in your submissions for opportunities, whether for openly advertised positions or to targeted firms that you have an interest in working for but for which there are no openly advertised opportunities. At least not yet.

Cover letters are sales letters. They provide you with another opportunity to sell a prospective employer on the benefits of hiring you. They should move the action forward.

Marketing Tool # 6: Thank You Letter

A thank you letter is a short, concise letter that follows every interaction of your search. Who gets one? Anyone and everyone who helps!

A thank you letter tells recipients what you are thanking them for with some specificity – not just a short “thanks for the help.” It also functions as a sales letter, because if well-constructed, it also tells or reminds them of your qualifications for the type of work you are seeking and the benefits of hiring you. Like a cover letter, it should move the action forward.

Marketing Tool # 7: Annotated Reference List

An annotated reference list shows not only the name and contact information of your reference, but also contains a brief description of the nature of your professional relationship. It’s a cut above the usual typed list of names and addresses that is generally provided by job seekers, and offers more evidence of your professionalism. It is a sales tool in that it enhances the conversation that will occur between the prospective employer and your reference.

Bonus: Social Media

No discussion of job search marketing would be complete without a word about social media. Social media is a helpful, and in today’s marketplace, an essential marketing tool for a job seeker. However, be careful what, where, and why you post.

Saying whatever comes into your head and hitting “send” can be a mistake. So, exercise caution when posting or sharing information on social media websites. Posting negative information has come back to bite many job seekers in the form of lost opportunities.

There are dozens of social media sites to choose from, but the primary site for job seekers is LinkedIn. It’s the site associated with employment and professional development, and the site the largest number of recruiters turn to when searching for and researching possible candidates.

Putting it All Together

Marketing your skills in the employment marketplace will start your cleared job search off on the right foot. Crafting the basic tool kit’s seven marketing materials will enable you to show how your experience and abilities relate to a prospective employer’s needs without creating any early mis-impressions that you then have to go back and correct.

As time goes by, you will certainly want to consider developing additional job search enhancement tools such as a LinkedIn profile, professional portfolio, and personal-professional business cards. These focused marketing tools will help you achieve your goal—a great job that you really want to do.


  • Nancy Gober

    Nancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment, and the author of “Jobs Are Not Found Sitting at the Computer.” You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected].

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 17, 2023 2:27 pm

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