Marketing Yourself-Canada

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Why a marketing mentality?

  • When you're looking for a job, you're marketing yourself.
  • You have been marketing yourself ever since you were born.
  • When you were a baby, you smiled, and you won a place in your parents’ hearts.
  • You made friends at school, you’ve secured jobs in the UK, and you’ve attracted someone to date (and perhaps marry) you.
  • If you’ve lived in the same place all your life, though, marketing yourself has been an unconscious process for much of the time.
  • From billions of cues that you’ve received from your society, you’ve learned when it’s appropriate to smile, shake hands, stand in a queue, etc.
  • When you move to another country, even another English-speaking country, the social landscape is different.
  • You don’t know what to make of the local people, and they also don’t know what to make of you.
  • You have to become much more conscious of the fact that you are marketing yourself.
  • In order to market yourself successfully, you need to learn local norms, and this requires effort.

Developing a marketing mindset

  • Start looking at your surroundings through new eyes.
  • Look at the person in front of you in the supermarket queue. Would you hire that person? On what factors do you base that decision? Do you like or dislike his/her energy? Do you find his/her dress and grooming pleasing? Does he/she greet and thank the checkout clerk in a friendly manner?
  • Now look at yourself. If the person behind you in the supermarket queue was assessing you, would he/she hire you? Would he/she like your energy? Would he/she find your dress and grooming pleasing? Would he/she like the way in which you greet and thank the checkout clerk?
  • When you’re in a store, notice how the store markets its products. Notice which products are near the front, so that you see them as soon as you walk in. Notice which products are at eye level, where they are easy to see and reach. Notice which products are less easily accessible. Are there some odds and ends displayed near the checkout counter, so that you’re tempted to add a couple of them to your shopping basked just before you pay for your purchases? How does the store persuade you to buy its products? Does it offer exceptional quality? Does it offer high volumes at low prices? Does it hold sales? Does it offer convenient services, like home delivery? What are its hours of operation?
  • When you're shopping, how do you decide what to buy? Do you decide on price alone? Are you willing to pay more for good quality and reliability? Are you willing to pay more for something that's attractive? How do you know the quality of a product? Are there familiar brand names that you trust? What does it take to persuade you to try a new brand name?
  • Now look at yourself, and try to identify lessons that can be learned from the ways in which stores market their products. Have you learned how to showcase your attributes to prospective employers? What is special about you? Can you deliver exceptional quality? Do you come at a bargain price? What are your hours of operation? What problems can you solve? What needs can you fill? What value can you add? Since you'll be something of an unknown quantity in the eyes of a prospective Canadian employer, what do you think it'll take for him/her to switch from his/her "familiar brand" (someone with Canadian experience) to a "new brand" (newly arrived you)?
  • Even if you don’t work in the sales field, any good quality material you can read on the topic of selling will help you to acquire a marketing mind set, and this will help you in your job hunt.
  • Reading how salespeople sell products or services to customers will help you to sell yourself to prospective employers.

What do employers want?

If we continue to look to sales experts for useful analogies, a good source of information is Mark Joyner’s book, The Irresistable Offer : How to Sell Your Product or Service in 3 Seconds or Less.

Joyner says that customers base their buying decisions on three factors:

  1. High return on investment (ROI)
  2. Touchstone
  3. Believability

Let us examine each of these in turn.

High Return on Investment

  • Customers want to get very good value for money, and so do employers.
  • Some customers (and employers) are willing to pay high prices, but they are willing to do that only if they are convinced they are getting exceptional quality.
  • When you’re a newcomer, Canadian employers may not be confident that you represent a high return on their investment.
  • During your first couple of years in Canada, you may need to accept a lower salary than you had hoped.
  • This may be your only option for convincing an employer that he/she would be getting a high ROI if he/she hired you.
  • Please note that some expats have been successful in slotting into well paid jobs from the start.
  • However, the chances of being able to do this vary from occupation to occupation and from region to region.
  • The salary issue is being mentioned here, just as a warning that you may have to lower your expectations initially, but that diligent work should bring you up to a “normal” Canadian earning capacity within a couple of years.


  • According to Mark Joyner, a “touchstone” is a simple, instantly recognizable picture that pops into your mind when you think of a given company’s name.
  • Federal Express’s slogan, for example, is, “When you absolutely positively have to get it there overnight.” To underscore the point, Fed Ex advertisements show their drivers delivering transplant organs.
  • A tiny, hole-in-the wall pizza joint grew into a $4 billion a year company because the new young owner, Tom Monaghan, had an impulse. On the spur of the moment he said, “We deliver in 30 minutes, or your pizza is free.” Domino’s Pizza’s slogan now is the industry standard in far flung countries, but back in 1960 no one else had thought of it. It set Monaghan apart from his competition.
  • So, if you were to implement this concept in your case, would you be able to identify your touchstone?
  • Think about yourself.
  • What is it about your work that you love to do and that you do well?
  • What distinguishes you from many other people who work in the same field?
  • Identifying what is special about you will help you to write your resume and covering letter, and it will help you to respond to questions in interviews.
  • Prepare an answer for the question that every prospective employer has in his her mind (whether it's conscious or subconscious), "When I have X number of job applicants to consider, why should I choose you?"


  • In the context of job hunting, what makes you credible?
  • How can the prospective employer be confident that the claims you’ve made on your resume are true?
  • Pieces of paper that prove your education or trade qualifications help.
  • The prospective employer can phone your referees (what Canadians call references) and check out your story.
  • But one of the most powerful endorsements you can receive is an introduction from a person who belongs to the prospective employer’s business or personal circle.
  • Let’s get back to marketing. Think of television advertisements. Think of all the rich and famous people who promote products.
  • If Ms. Academy Award Winner says that her tresses owe their shine to Hot Volcanic Lava shampoo, it sounds much more plausible than it would if Ms. Little Nobody said the same thing.
  • For the same reason, Mr. Prospective Employer will pay much more attention if you phone him up and say, “Hello, Bob. This is Joe Blogs. Mike McFriend suggested I call you.”
  • This is where the value of networking comes into the picture. Networking and participating in informational interviews is what will enable you to pick up the phone and say, “Hello, Bob. This is Joe Blogs. Mike McFriend suggested I call you.”
  • If you are job hunting in Canada while you’re still in the UK, you have the added burden of demonstrating the seriousness of your intention to move to Canada.
  • You can demonstrate that you mean business if you phone people in Canada while you're still in the UK, and if you do a recce trip.
  • Notice that a recce trip was part of Dave’s strategy in Job Hunting Success Story.


On his Natural Selling website, Michael Oliver teaches three sales concepts:

  1. The most important step in selling is to find out what the customer's problem is. To do this, you need to ask questions and listen.
  2. When you understand the customer’s problem, you are in a position to determine whether or not your company’s product or service can solve that problem.
  3. When you’ve determined that you can solve the problem, you can present your product or service as a potential solution to the customer's problem.

If we were to take Oliver’s concepts and adapt them to job hunting, we would come up with these steps:

  1. Find out what problems employers in your target area are experiencing.
  2. Determine whether or not you are equipped to solve their problems.
  3. If you’ve determined that you can solve a prospective employer’s problems, create a set of circumstances in which he/she concludes for him/herself that you are the logical solution to his/her problems.

If you read the steps that Dave took in Job Hunting Success Story, you’ll notice that:

  1. He devoted a great deal of effort to researching the region of Canada to which he wanted to move and to the needs of the employers in that region.
  2. Once Dave had ascertained what those needs were, he sought out training and experience that would equip him to meet potential employers’ needs and that would make him more attractive to those employers.

Discrimination against immigrants

  • A complaint that we see in the news media is that Canadian employers discriminate against immigrants.
  • There are accounts of PhDs working as janitors and burger flippers.
  • Yes, discrimination against immigrants does exist in Canada.
  • But the fact that a PhD is driving a taxi is not always the fault of Canadian employers.
  • Sometimes a PhD is driving a taxi because he/she did not research Canada in advance, because he/she did not find out what employers’ needs were, and because he/she has not succeeded in demonstrating to prospective employers how well his/her skills would fit their needs.
  • This is not intended as a judgement against highly educated immigrants who are doing lowly paid, menial jobs in Canada. Some people arrive in Canada as refugees. Some people arrive in this country without knowledge of either of its official languages.
  • This article acknowledges the considerable handicaps with which some people arrive in Canada. However, this article is being published on a website for British expats. Consequently, most people who read this article will be fluent in English. Most members of this forum are in a position to adapt their job hunting strategy to the Canadian situation and improve their chances of finding employment.

Provide specific, targeted information

  • On his Natural Selling website that was mentioned earlier, Michael Oliver warns the salesperson against making his/her presentation to the customer too early in the discussion.
  • Oliver encourages the salesperson to spend a lot of time finding out what the customer’s problem is.
  • Only when the salesperson has accurately identified the customer’s problem and ascertained that his/her product or service represents a potential solution, is the salesperson in a position to present his/her product or service to the customer.
  • Let us translate this advice for the job hunter.
  • Until you have found out what the prospective employer’s needs are, it’s irrelevant that you can speak seven languages, that you have a PhD, that you have a Black Belt in karate, that you know how to identify three hundred bird songs, that you can type 120 words a minute, or whatever else it is that you can do.
  • Not only is it irrelevant, it may even be counterproductive to mention all of those attributes.
  • Your resume and covering letter need to be tailored to the specific job opportunity that you want.
  • They have to demonstrate to the prospective employer that you are the person to solve his/her problems.
  • Surplus information may be detrimental to you.
  • There may even be situations in which it would be prudent to “dumb down” your resume. (These are situations in which you might be perceived as being overqualified and in which the prospective employer might feel threatened by your superior credentials.)
  • There is more detailed information in the Wiki articles about Resumes and Covering Letters.
  • But, for now, just remember that the purpose of a resume and its covering letter is to generate sufficient interest in you that the prospective employer will invite you for an interview.
  • So the resume and covering letter need to demonstrate, albeit briefly, that you understand the employer’s needs and that your skills, work experience and education equip you to meet those needs.
  • It is a mistake to try to sell yourself to prospective employers too soon, before you have identified their needs.
  • In a sales situation, Michael Oliver would say that the salesperson had made his/her presentation too soon.
  • If you send out a boilerplate version of your resume you are, in effect, making your presentation too soon.
  • At a minimum, use your covering letter to draw to the employer’s attention the fit between your attributes and his/her requirements.
  • But, if possible, tailor each resume that you send out so that it emphasizes the fit between your skills and experience and the employer's needs.

Sources of information

Additional sources of information about marketing yourself include:

  • Any books by Michael Masterson, specially Automatic Wealth
  • Early to Rise ezine. This is an electronic magazine devoted to health, wealth and success. You can register to receive free daily emails.

Other job hunting articles

  • This is only one of a series of BE Wiki articles about job hunting in Canada.
  • To find links to the other articles in the series, please go to Job Hunting in Canada.