I’m working with a few clients hiring digital campaign marketing managers to improve their top of the funnel attraction rates. The big idea for them is that as digital marketing becomes the de facto standard for finding new customers, those who do it more effectively will wind up with the most new clients.

The best recruiters are now starting to use these same concepts and tools to find and hire stronger candidates.

Job seekers need to rethink their job hunting strategies along the same lines.

Key to Success: Spend More Time with Fewer Companies and the Right People

The central theme of this approach is the need for job seekers to spend more time with fewer companies targeting hiring managers and their functional leaders. Underlying this model is recognition that there are two job markets. The public one where jobs are posted and the hidden one where jobs are filled either via referral or internal promotion.

The video describes this concept.

In The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired I offer advice to job seekers on how to enter into the hidden job market through the backdoor. Some of these points are summarized below. If you’re into digital campaign marketing you’ll see the similarities.

Narrow your focus by first defining your ideal company. Finding a better job starts by identifying companies that need your skills and abilities, those that are hiring people like you and those that might have some problems you can solve. Once you have 15-20 companies like this do your research and find the names of likely hiring managers and department heads. LinkedIn is specifically designed for this purpose.

Make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile can be found. Most recruiters begin to fill jobs by searching resume databases like Indeed.com and LinkedIn. For them this is a better way to find good candidates than posting jobs. This post describes the process we created to help recruiters find top tier candidates using advanced searching techniques. Job seekers need to reverse engineer their resumes accordingly so they can be found more easily.

Use a campaign marketing approach to get the first meeting. This is the essence of digital marketing. Forget about applying unless you’re a perfect skills match, but definitely be sure to follow the company since this will improve your profile search ranking. More important though is a proactive multi-pronged campaign to key decision makers consisting of emails, recommendations, referrals, voice mails, meet-ups and whatever else you can think of to make contact.

Sell an exploratory discussion, not a job interview. Regardless of how you make contact, don’t press for a job. Instead suggest the chance to have a discussion around a problem or opportunity the company is facing that you know you could help solve.

Get recommended. Without question getting referred by a trusted source is the best technique to arrange an exploratory discussion with a decision maker. But note that networking is not about meeting as many people as you can. It’s meeting a few highly-connected people who can vouch for your performance to a few other highly-connected people.

Build a networking map. You need to find some connections to the decision makers to get recommended. One job applicant told me she contacted a sales trainer she had used to get a referral to a company hiring sales managers. Another got referred to a company through a professional engineering society associate.

Mention a higher up. In your messages mention you’re also sending a similar email to other leaders in the company. Mention their names. If your email is provoking, provocative and/or insightful the person reading it will more likely reach out to you directly rather than having to be told to by the higher up.

Offer a sneak peek. One job seeker told me he prepared a competitive analysis of a company’s new product line and sent the first few slides to the VP Marketing. He offered to present the whole program in a short meeting to the marketing team. He got the meeting.

Conduct discovery during the exploratory discussion. As soon as the meeting starts ask about some of the challenges, critical tasks and problems the department is currently focusing on. Then describe some of your most significant accomplishments that best compare. All job seekers should do something similar to ensure they’re properly assessed on their past performance.

Slowly prove your worth. The solution selling process described here involves proving your worth in incremental steps. Each step is called an advance. For job seekers it’s getting another meeting with people who are likely to be hiring someone just like you in the near future. So ask for another meeting if it’s not offered.

Job seekers can take these lessons from digital campaign marketing: narrow the target, maximize the response rate and spend more time with the right people. Done properly the result will be a better job.