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How can I make myself more marketable to employers?


Spring Commencement, Graduation, jkDawn from Strayer University

I  just finished the coursework for an MBA in Marketing,  and I’m really struggling finding a career opportunity.  I have experience in sales, customer service and banking, but my interests are  in education and finance. Every job I want seems to require 5-10 years of experience. I can’t even get employers to look at my resume. I’m so frustrated. What do I need to do to make myself more marketable?

Hi Dawn –

It can be very frustrating when you are trying to transition from one industry to another.  Here are some tips that I think will help you make yourself more marketable to employers:

Focus your message and keep it relevant

Employers won’t understand you or what you offer unless you help them – particularly when you are trying to change fields.  If your resume is a simple historical record of what you have done and where and when you did it, it is telling the employer who reads it that you want to do what you have always done.  If your resume presents your accomplishments and qualifications in sales, customer service and banking, why would an employer think you want to work in any other field?

Your resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profile and other job search marketing materials should present your qualifications in terms and language relevant to the fields you wish to enter.

When you say you are interested in education and finance, what exactly do you mean?   If you can’t describe what you mean in detail, you can’t expect employers to figure it out.

Focus your message on things relevant to prospective employers, and you will see more success in your job search.

Speak the employer’s language

You will earn credibility with potential employers if you can show them you understand their world.  When you can speak the language of their business, they have great confidence that you understand the culture of their industry. If you want employers to understand you and what you offer, you have to make the effort to understand them.  Learn about their companies and their industries.

Learn to speak their language, so you can understand them (and so they will understand you).

Look in the right places

Often, people get frustrated looking for a job because they are looking in the wrong places.  While you can find a lot on, you cannot find everything. If you have a niche interest, look at the niche job boards and related resources.  If you are looking for jobs in higher education.  Look at resources focused on that industry. For example:

Academic 360
The Chronicle of Higher Education Online Job Board
National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) Position Announcements
National Association of Student Affairs Professionals (NASAP) Job Announcements – Finding a Job
Student Position Listings

If you are interested in finance, check out the resources in my blog post – What can I do with a degree in Accounting and Information Systems?

There are many places to look – make sure you look in the right places.

The kind of experience is more important the number of years of experience

Employers are more concerned that you have the kind of experience they need, than they are concerned that you have the number of years of experience spelled out in the job description; so take those date ranges with a grain of salt!

If it says 5-10 years of experience, they mean they need candidates with some experience, professional maturity, and  – of course – the skills they are seeking.  Translation: Entry-level graduates and inexperienced candidates need not apply!

If you believe you can legitimately make and defend a case for your candidacy, then apply for the job.

By the way, the word “legitimately” is the most important word in that sentence. Wanting a job and feeling qualified for it is different from wanting a job and being able to make a case for yourself as a qualified candidate.

You must be prepared to make a persuasive and compelling argument that you deserve to be considered.  If you cannot do that, perhaps you should not apply for the job.

So – to sum this whole blog up into one sentence:

The better employers understand you, what you offer and what you want,
the better chance you will have of getting hired.

Hope these tips help,



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