Marketing Lessons for Academics on the Job Market

One of my biggest regrets of having spent so many years in an academic setting is that I never took a single marketing course. It wasn’t until I left academia and started my own business that I began to study marketing (and then only by necessity). When I did, I realized that the lessons I was learning could have helped me as a graduate student and when I first entered the non-academic job market. I’m sharing them here in the hopes that they help keep others from making the same mistakes I did.

Remember Your Audience

It’s still hard for me to remember sometimes to dial back the jargon—this goes for any topic that I’ve researched and have experience in, including marketing! When you’re on the job market, remember that not everyone you talk to will be conversant in the language of your domain. Learn how to talk about your expertise using language that your audience will understand—whether your audience is a hiring manager, a potential team member, or a contact that can connect you to a job opening.

Get Personal

Related to the tip above, I’ve had so much more success with marketing when I share my personal experiences and let my personality come through. Since marketing is about making connections with people—real, live humans—you have to show that you’re a real, live human, too. When you’re searching for a job, it’s natural to focus on matching your skills to a role. But don’t forget that the role needs to be a good fit for you, and you need to be a good fit for the organization. You can only do that if you let some of your personality come through.

Use a Systematic Approach

The job search process can be overwhelming, just like the field of marketing. Use a systematic approach to the process to get better results. A wonderful resource for this is the 2-Hour Job Search by Steve Dalton.

Rinse and Repeat

Don’t give up if you don’t see results. Marketing requires incredible patience and the willingness to try things over and over. The same is true for the job search—you may need to try the same approach many times before you see results.

Communicate Your Value

Research salaries in your desired field by using PayscaleGlassdoor and any other tools that are relevant to your industry. These data help you assign an actual number to the position you want. Beyond just knowing what your time and expertise is worth, though, you also need to be ready to openly discuss your value. That means being comfortable talking about money and negotiating your salary and benefits.

Build Your Network

A successful job search is more than just creating a good resume and acing a job interview—it’s about making connections with people and helping them understand your value as a professional. You are much more likely to land a job through a referral than going through an application system, so spend as much time as you can making new connections and cultivating the ones you already have.

Keep Learning

The biggest marketing tip I have is to keep learning. Look at the job search as one long, involved learning experience, and track your goals and outcomes along the way. The more you learn about it, the better the experience will be—and you’ll increase your chances of landing the job that you want.


Tammy Bjelland is the founder and president of Learning in Bloom, where she helps academics become learning entrepreneurs.

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