What the Heck Is Skill Marketing?

Skill Marketing is a term that is well known and widely used throughout the staffing and recruitment industry. Outside of professional sports, where an agent might skill market a client to a team or general manager, I don’t know of any other industries where the term is used. Skill marketing is the art or practice of proactively shopping exceptional job candidates to employers and companies that do not have a current job opening posted. In other words a recruiter would skill market a candidate by calling into XYZ Medical Company saying something like,

“Hey Mr. Decision Maker, I’m not sure if your company is currently hiring at this time, but I am representing a candidate that has X years of experience and is highly specialized in underwater brain surgery. I thought he would be a perfect fit within your organization. If I send you his resume would you be interested in having a conversation with him to see if he would in fact be a good match”?

More often than not, when a hiring manager is presented with a highly talented candidate, they will be interested in speaking with that individual. For example, someone with highly specialized skills like an underwater brain surgeon or the highly sought after and rare Purple Squirrel. Recruiters use skill marketing to create opportunities even when they aren’t presented with them. But are candidates doing themselves a disservice by not skill marketing themselves when having conversations with recruiters?

My advice to job seekers who are having trouble finding the right company or employment opportunity is to have a conversation with a recruiter. Simply call into the firm and ask for someone who specializes in the placement of people like yourself. Be clear and open with them by explaining your current situation but be sure to sell your skills to the recruiter. Market yourself to them. You want to confidently paint the perfect picture of the exact role and type of company you would be a good fit for; all the while justifying why you’re the ideal candidate with your skills and experience.  This will allow the recruiter to effectively skill market you. A recruiting firm’s knowledge of the market, of wage and compensation rates, supply and demand, network of companies and network of contacts is the value and power behind their services. Therefore, my job seeker advice of the day is to create your own opportunity by effectively skill marketing yourself.  Essentially tell the recruiter “Mr. or Mrs. Recruiter here’s how you skill market me, I’ve got this, that and the other thing, experience doing A, B, and C, and I would be an excellent fit for a company that does__________ OR _________and has a little ______. Do you work with any companies like that or know of any that we could pursue”?

The dialog in these conversations would obviously be different but I hope the message was clear. If you are an active or passive job seeker try something different. Be bold and proactive by skill marketing yourself to employment professionals who can leverage their expertise on your behalf.