Why do people spend 4-5 years at University, but they can’t get a job?

This has been one of my most popular articles – hope you find it of interest.

Here’s how to increase your chances 1000% for getting the job you want!

It’s happened again today.
It happens quite a lot.
It happens about three- (3) times a week.

It usually comes in the form of an innocent looking letter. I reach into the Post Office box and quickly flick through the bundle of letters the postman has brought me. I see it! It’s in a plain white envelope. It looks full of promise.

I’m excited.

I tear open that letter with great hope. I’m thinking, “Is this the one?!! I so hope it is!! It could be the one!! Woooohooooo!”

As I read that letter my heart always sinks a little. I get disappointed. Then I usually get annoyed. And then back to disappointed.

Here’s what the letter usually says.

Dear Sir/Madam

I would like to be considered for a position with your firm.

I have a marketing degree, I feel I would be well suited to a marketing position and I’m a team player. I am looking for a challenging marketing role.

I am a young, motivated person who has remained patient in finding a role that will fulfill my desire of establishing a long term career where I can enjoy learning.

Yours sincerely

Joe/Julie Bloggs

I have a decent little business that does marketing, plenty of media work and lots of web development. We also own and manage one of Australia’s most successful online shops.

Our work is varied, frequently fascinating and always fun. Our most recent team member was employed just before she finished her degree. Within a couple of weeks she was working closely with one of Australia’s highest profile multi-millionaires, she was developing entire marketing campaigns and she was having a ball!

These marketing jobs can be fun!

We receive plenty of letters from people applying for marketing positions. If we place an ad for a new team member we’ll get anywhere between 120-150 replies.

Most weeks we get 2-3 applications even if we don’t run an ad.

The people who approach us for jobs are supposedly intelligent people. They have marketing degrees. Law degrees. Business degrees. Formal qualifications galore. Some have experience, others don’t.

Most have spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to get their qualifications. It’s probably in the $100,000’s for many people.

Every single one of the people who have applied for jobs with us have wasted their money. And their time.

And you probably noticed that I wrote that they are “supposedly intelligent people“. I wrote that on purpose.

These people have to be the dumbest people ever!! Degree or no degree.

And here’s why…….

  • They spend years of study and thousands of dollars to get a qualification.
  • They have absolutely no idea how to get a job.

A job can be a great thing. A job can set a person up for life. A job can be the start of a beautiful life.

And to spend four- (4) years at a University and then not even bother to develop the knowledge on how to get a job is…..well, it’s just plain stupid. Really stupid!

And when these people are supposed to have marketing skills…..well, then it goes beyond really stupid to be…..

Absolutely, incredibly, without question STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!

Marketing is simply about identifying your target market, finding out what they want and then giving it to them. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s ain’t rocket science.

Okay, I’ve been mouthing off about this for a while and I still haven’t said what you need to do to get a job. But I’m about to. So read on.

If I wanted a marketing job with a marketing firm here’s what I would do.

Step1: Identify my target market.

I would find out all the marketing firms in my area. I would start researching them. I would find out everything I could about them. Everything.

Most marketing firms brag about their clients and the work they do as a way to demonstrate their expertise to prospective clients. You can easily find out:

  • What types of marketing they do
  • Who their clients are
  • How they market themselves
  • Who the key personnel are

I’d even ring some of their clients and ask questions about the marketing firm.

With that research I have gold! Gold I say!

Step 2: Identify what my target market wants.

I’ll use my own experience here. What do I want? What I want in my business comes down to this:

I want to make more money!!

Everyone wants to make more money.

I have never, ever, ever met a businessperson who doesn’t want more money! Never. And I doubt I ever will.

Step 3: Give your market what they want.

The last time I advertised a position that was vacant, I received 140 replies. Not one of those 140 replies identified what I wanted. So none of them offered me a solution.

The case of the GIGANTIC folder

I’m sitting with with a gigantic folder beside me of our previous job applicants.

I’ll pick three- (3) at random:

  • “My career objective is to continually build upon my I.T skills……..I wish to work in my fields of interest in Multimedia.”
  • “…I have a degree in marketing and am keen to gain employment in a fast paced and innovative environment that is both challenging and rewarding.”
  • “….I would be very pleased to obtain a position in an organisation that will enable me to learn new skills.”

I couldn’t care less…

  • I couldn’t care less about the applicant’s objectives (unless they are to make me money!)
  • I couldn’t care less about the applicant’s qualifications (unless they can show me how those qualifications will make me money)
  • I couldn’t care less that the applicant wants to learn new skills (unless those skills will make me money)

Keep that crap for the University career counselor.

Not quite as ineffective, but poor anyway, is listing skills and qualifications.

  • Marketing degree
  • Ability to use Macromedia
  • Ability to write and present reports
  • Highly developed verbal and written skills

Not interesting. And it’s not relevant.

It’s a hard and tough world out there

It’s a hard and tough world out there. Things don’t come easily. Everyday is a challenge for the person running a business. They are not there to make life as easy as possible for you. They are there to make a profit.

Because if they don’t, they don’t exist.

So now that we have identified our target market (the prospective employer) and identified his or her needs we now provide a solution. And I’ve just told you the main problem of every business.

To get the job, you say this: Employ me because I will make you money.

Imagine you are an employer. You’re struggling along trying to make a buck. You get the usual job applications. All about me, me, me.

And then someone rocks on in, grabs hold of you and says, “Employ me because I will make you money!”

If you want to list your qualifications, that’s fine. But tell the employer why your qualifications are relevant.

Marketing degree – “I have the knowledge and training to give your clients the best across a range of marketing. What this means for you is better results, happier clients, more referrals and bigger profits.”

Ability to use Macromedia – “I can edit and develop web sites giving this business extra skills in this fast growing area. That means you can offer your clients additional services which will, of course, result in greater profits.”

Ability to write and present reports – “I write superb reports with minimal input. What this means for you is a well informed client and an informed client is a happy client. This will also reduce the non-profitable report writing the more experienced and profitable team members have to do and they can be out there making you more money!”

You gotta be smart about it.

With our last advertisement in the newspaper the copy included this:

“For more information about our exciting and fast-growing company, visit our web site at www.tailored.com.au.”

Applicants were invited to submit their applications to the Executive Director.

Out of the 140 applicants, two- (2) addressed the application to “Brendon Sinclair, Executive Director.” The rest were to “Whom it may concern” and “Sir/Madam.”

Naturally those two- (2) applicants who addressed the letter personally got an interview. And it was because they showed initiative. Initiative enough to figure out who the Executive Director was. It was right there on the web site. It’s pretty basic stuff.

In an interview everyone says almost exactly the same thing. It’s almost impossible in interviews, in my experience, to get a straight answer to any question.

The applicant is not going to say, “I actually don’t think I am the best person for this job. I quite lazy, frequently dishonest and usually insolent.”

It’s to be expected – after all they practice the ‘best’ answer to every possible question.

“Do you have initiative?” you might ask an applicant.

The answer is going to be “Yes!”

But of our 140 applicants, only two- (2) actually demonstrated any initiative. And the best indicator of future performance is past performance.

But the other 138 applicants insisted to me that they have initiative.

I work hard!

I work hard. I’m out there in the trenches each and every day trying to make my clients a buck. I’m getting rejected here, getting rejected there, then going back and trying again. Every single day.

I fail at something every single day. But I never quit.

In my business, in any business, you have to be persistent. Persistence pays off.

That application letter I received today. It was from one of the previous job applicants of a year ago. She was the first person who has contacted us after being rejected the first time. 140 people trained in marketing. It’s taken a year for any of them to follow up!

Either their marketing training is hopeless or they are just plain stupid!

I’ve asked the person who followed up in for a chat. If she’s half decent we’ll give her a go.

If someone is persistent they are going to be more successful at whatever they do. The best indicator of future performance is past performance.

The person I employed last year didn’t work out. I went through the applications and tried again. The next person didn’t work out either. Neither did the next. I tried again.

If someone says “No”, they aren’t saying “No” to you. What they are really saying is “No, what you are offering me doesn’t meet my needs.”

So come up with a better solution, a better offer, and try again.

Almost every employer I know puts an employee on for a trial period. And they do that for one- (1) very good reason. In many, many cases the first choice doesn’t work out.

Here’s what else you have to do to get that job!

Let’s assume you have applied for the position, had an interview and didn’t win the job. The firm tells you by phone or letter.

Step 1: Write a sincere “Thank You” letter.

Dear Brendon

Thank you so much for the opportunity to have a chat regarding the role with your company.

Your description of the company and philosophy was unique and sounds highly motivating, positive and a certain recipe for great success – I certainly aspire to work with such a client focused organisation and really help grow such a business.

The importance of getting the right team member can’t be understated and, whilst I am disappointed at not winning the position, I understand what a difficult decision it must be to select your new team member.

Thanks again Brendon. All the very best to the Tailored team.

Yours sincerely

David Jones

P.S: Saw your ad in the newspaper for your sporting goods store. Really stood out and grabbed me with the great photo. Looked great.

Remember, chances are going to be good that the person they have employed won’t be up to scratch. And in your letter, you have told the employer that “the importance of getting the right team member can’t be understated”.

You just very subtly mentioned that the new employee must be right for the role.

It also tells the employer you have empathy with his or her role. Very important. The employer is starting to identify with you.

The other thing you have done is been overwhelmingly positive. If you’re not positive then your value to a business is greatly reduced.

Okay then. You’ve done something that 99% of job seekers don’t do. If the employee doesn’t work out, you will be light years ahead of your competition.

Is that it then? Yes, it is.

If you want to be like all the other losers!!
You’re not a loser are you? Okay then. Let’s keep going.

Step 2: Two- (2) weeks later.

Dear Brendon

Hope all is well.

Just a quick note to let you know that I remembered what you said about the importance of making a great first impression during our chat when I came in about the marketing role.

I went out and bought a beautiful fountain pen last week – and WOW! What a difference it makes! Everyone who sees it comments on it.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Yours sincerely

David Jones

P.S: Proudly signed with my new fountain pen!

Step 3: Three- (3) weeks after that.

Dear Brendon

Hello again!

Hope business is rocking along.

As you know, you really made an impact in our interview talking about the passion your team has for the business and I learnt a lot in our short time together, especially regarding the huge impact the Internet is having on businesses these days.

Just thought I would let you know I’ve started a night course on this and it is amazing the things I have learnt already. Thanks for the information and the inspiration.

Yours sincerely

David Jones

Step 4: Three- (3) weeks after that.

Dear Brendon

Congratulations on winning the contract with QANTAS (I saw it on your web site and in the newspaper). Must be a very exciting job.

If you ever need any staff to help with all the work you have on at the moment, I know a guy who is talented, has tons of initiative and perseverance – just the sort of guy who would make you plenty of sales!

Congratulations again and all the best.

Yours sincerely

David Jones

Step 5: Three- (3) weeks after that.

Dear Brendon

Hope all is well.

I would like your advice on something if you would be so kind. As a guy who is always thinking marketing, I am trying to figure out the best way I can ‘sell’ my services to an employer so that I can get into a marketing role.

I have been for a couple more interviews, but I always seem to lose out at the last minute.

I know how hard (and expensive) it must be for you to employ someone and train them up so they generate income for your business. I was thinking of how much money that would waste most employers and what would be the best solution for them.

After quite a bit of research with the Department of Employment, I have found some very interesting information.

Did you know that if you employ someone like me (recent graduate/unemployed/under 21 years of age/whatever) you receive a rebate of 60% of my wage from the government? I had no idea.

With the starting wage for my sort of role, this means that an employer could employ me for next to nothing!

Because you seemed to have a terrific grasp of commercial reality, I would be indebted if you could advise me on the following:

As an employer, if I turned up at an interview with this sort of information would you think it showed initiative or was a bit stupid? What would you do in my situation?

Thanks in advance Brendon. I’ll get a great marketing role sooner or later!

Your sincerely

David Jones

Step 7: Three- (3) weeks later.

Dear Brendon

Okay, I admit it!

You know and I know that there is a reason for these letters every couple of weeks. And although the information I’ve given you has been the absolute truth, there has been another reason.

I’m building a relationship. Yep, that’s it. I’m being persistent. I’m demonstrating that I don’t quit at the first sign of trouble. I stick at the job until it’s done and done right.

I’m the sort of person who will make your business more profitable. I get the job done. No fuss or bother. Just results.

I’m smart enough to know that relationships are what marketing is all about (I hope I’m not being too immodest here!) and I’ve been trying to show you I’m a quick learner.

I’m committed to marketing and I love it!

  • I love the thought of having a client’s business go through the roof because of something I’ve done.
  • I love the thought of using my initiative, getting out there and making sales and making you money.
  • I love the idea of working with your team and really getting the chance to stretch my wings.

I love it so much I’ve purchased three- (3) books on copywriting (and devoured them in a couple of hours) so I could get my message across to you as well as possible!

And so I have another skill, maybe even an edge over the next marketing person who joins your team.

And I also have another thing to sell your clients. I can write terrific copy for ads, direct mail pieces, even letters like this one!

I’m ready to go!

Yours sincerely

David Jones


Okay, so some of my examples might not be great. But I hope they get the message across. And the above doesn’t just work for getting a job. It’s also perfectly relevant for practically any professional services firm.

Just like marketing a product in an often over-crowded market, you have to stand out.

Be unique. Be different. Be noticed.

The regular contact has made you stand out. No question about that.

And if you think that the above approach is too strong, think of this:

You would tailor your approach to the business. You should know what would work with your prospective employer because of all the research you did earlier (the research can be done in about an hour).

This is real life. If you want that job, you have to go and get that job. Beat the competition. This could be the start of a big, big life.

So let’s go over it again.

  • Find who you want to work with. There are plenty of companies out there – find the exact one you want to work with. It’s your life you are dealing with here. Don’t waste a minute!
  • Tell the employer that you will make him money.
  • Tell the employer how you will make him money.
  • Build a relationship with potential employers.
  • Keep in contact!

Do those things and you will get a job. Simple.

Good luck.