By Lisa Parker

Job seekers, like it or not, you are a salesperson. Your talents, skills, connections and sweat are up for grabs and it’s your responsibility to understand who your customers are, what you have they could use, what value to put on those offerings and how they respond to your marketing materials & pitch.

How does one go about finding this kind of stuff out? Follow the lead of successful companies and put together your own focus group. Your focus group should include individuals from your target audience or who come close enough to be able to appreciate the perspective of that audience. Too many job seekers rely exclusively on advice of those who aren’t really part of their target audience. Why is that a problem? Imagine a restaurant turning to vegetarians for their take on a new burger. Imagine an automaker asking 18 year old drivers to evaluate a new mini van versus moms with kids. Doesn’t make sense, right? If the restaurant or automaker followed the suggestions of the vegetarians and 18 year old drivers, imagine how unappealing the end result could end up being to the target customer.

Having individuals with no real need for or understanding of what you do as your sole source of guidance in your job search is problematic. Sure, consult resume, interview and job search strategy professionals for overall concepts, but turn to your focus group for refinement. Ask former colleagues, fellow members of professional associations and decision makers in your networking circle from companies similar to those you are chasing for a moment of their time. Your search efforts will benefit.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; career content blogger.


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