Part of the YaaS Series
This is an article about the job market, job candidates, and job farming. However, the concepts described in this article can apply to any individual or self-employed professional who seeks business opportunities.
The job market is unlike most markets in several ways. First, there are more sellers (job candidates) than there are buyers (job openings). Second, the buyers set up what I call the ‘stalls’ or stores. The sellers are expected to visit those stores (e.g., websites, job sites) and apply. And, third, there is a high degree of opacity within the job market once the wheels are put in motion.
All three of these characteristics of a job market are problems for the job candidate. The larger volume of sellers mean that there is an immense amount of noise and competition. The fact that employers set up the stall means that a funnel model is at work. That is, the job opening is not proactively hunting down the best fit candidates.
Rather, the job opening is reacting to the inflow of inbound interest from sellers. Lastly, once the seller submits an application the vast majority of the remaining steps of the process are fairly dark. There is no way to track progress - or lack thereof.
Think about this for a moment. The buyer is effectively putting up an RFP (request for proposal) and the sellers are rushing to submit a bid. And, since there are more sellers than buyers, it is inevitable for bottlenecks to form. So, where exactly are you inside the funnel?
Applying the Demand Generation Model to You
In a classic demand generation model, we recognize that a deal closure involves walking through multiple steps within several stages. From the standpoint of the seller, we commonly categorize these stages into:
(1) Awareness and (2) Interest
(4) Negotiation and (5) Deal Close
The steps (1) and (2) is typically referred to as the TOF (top of funnel) activity. Step (3) is called the Nurture Stage. And, steps (4) and (5) is referred to as Forecast. Steps (3) + (4) + (5) = Sales Pipeline.
Thus, steps (1) and (2) belong to a demand generation team or function. Step (3) is a hand off stage from the demand gen to field sales. If a lead is qualified, it goes into the pipeline through the hand off. If a lead is qualified but not ready, it remains in the bottom of the funnel and gets nurtured (re-lit). Step (3) is where a lot of scrutiny is applied as to the qualification and suitability of the lead (or opportunity). Steps (3), (4), and (5) are commonly considered the sales pipeline. Visualize the Funnel that balls drop into before entering the Pipeline at the bottom.
If you are good at visualization, it is clear to you at this point that the funnel is reversed! You are the seller but find yourself in a funnel. The buyers have to be in your funnel. This is a critical part of why the system is not working for you but rather against you. You must reverse this model.
Why B2B Instead of B2C?
I believe the B2B demand generation and sales model is a lot more applicable to a job candidate selling his or her services to a buyer (i.e., a company’s job opening). Mainly, the transaction involved in landing a job is similar to a B2B sales effort - and completely unlike a B2C transaction.
Both a job and B2B sales effort involves the following traits:
High price product being sold and bought
Multiple decision makers and participants
Several stages through which the candidate must pass through
Fit is discovered through exposure quality - not only frequency
In a B2C selling motion, the name of the game is converting volume. An analogy in the job market would be a department store hiring seasonal employees for a period of time. In this type of scenario, the B2C approach works fine. For knowledge worker position openings, the B2C model does not work well.
The Idea of Standing Up a Stall
If you have a strong pedigree (education and past work experience), proven achievements, and a stellar professional network, you do not need to make too many changes to the way you pursue new jobs or business opportunities. Most of your leads will come from trusted sources. That is, your opportunities are inbound. Inbound means that stuff comes to you with little to no effort. Of course, in reality, your body of work over many years of great performance was the effort.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of college graduates (and dropouts), young job seekers, and older professionals attempting to move into a new industry are not fortunate enough to benefit from inbound opportunities.
It makes sense for these people to stand up a stall. By putting up a stall, I do not mean creating a personal or professional website. What good does putting up a digital resume really do for generating inbound interest when you literally have to push the site into buyers (i.e., outbound)?
My strong advice is that you need to build a site for a “business of you” as part of a full sales and marketing effort - aka, demand generation engine.
Dev vs. Hack
It is tempting to think of this idea of a “business of you” as a hack or shortcut. But, you need to be disciplined and view it as a personal and career development effort. The project to transform yourself from being judged through a 2-3 page resume into a thorough, complete representation of who you really are (and what you are capable of building) is a lifelong asset.
Your demand generation engine — which I will refer to as YaaS (You-as-a-Service) — is not a product you are building until the big job (or deal) is secured. YaaS is on ongoing footprint you will continuously build and grow. Think of it as Dev vs. Hack. It is a part of your development. A development that will pay dividends throughout your professional life. That will put you into the right frame of mind to actually tackle this endeavor.
YaaS Is Powerful and Easy To Implement
YaaS is a powerful concept that is also very simple to put into practice. Building YaaS has many similarities to building a SaaS startup or product. All of the tools are out there. All of them are easy to use and economical.
The Five Parts of a B2B Demand Generation Engine
(1) Website showcasing what you are capable of (e.g., Squarespace)
(2) Mailing list and email automation (e.g., Pipedrive, Mailchimp, etc.)
(3) Content maker tools (e.g., Noun Project for icons, Upwork for help, etc.)
(4) Content development and productivity suites (e.g., Google)
(5) CRM and Job/Lead Management (e.g., Copper for Google)
Rachel, I Am Still Skeptical!
You should not be skeptical at all. Using a handful of free tools, I just started to build my own YaaS around a pseudonym. You are seeing an actual evidence of it. I have already generated enough revenue to reach break even so far (see quoted note below). My mailing list or database went from zero to nearly 30 already. And, all of this took me two days to get off the ground.
Note: It is not my primary goal to make money from this newsletter. To illustrate, 100 paid subscribers will net me less than $8,000 per year. Hardly the main or even secondary motivator. But, I am immensely grateful to the supporters who are able to sign up for the paid subscription as I do want to pour myself into this newsletter. Helping others while helping myself through building my own YaaS is a genuine win-win proposition.
I know what people are thinking. “Rachel, we have seen you write prolifically for months. And, if what you say is true, you are probably a whiz at this stuff.”
Wrong. While it is true that I have been an expert around business operations, marketing, and sales for enterprise technology companies (large and small), it has been nearly a decade since I worked hands-on in such a way that I am doing now. I am a newbie just like most of you. If I can do it, anyone can do it much better.
Remember the goal of building and growing your YaaS. The real goal is to display proof of your work. Imagine the following situation:
There is an opening for a $80k/yr job for a Sales Operations Manager opening. Person A sends in a resume that claims a lot of things. This resume competes with dozens of (if not 100+) other similar resumes.
Person B goes after the position using their YaaS. Person B’s YaaS is not full of sales operations knowledge or articles. The YaaS in and of itself IS a ‘live’ version of a sales operation at work. The topic or subject of the YaaS does not matter. Person B is now showing a WORKING PRODUCT instead of begging at the chance to show a proof-of-concept or (worse) shouting claims through resume text.
Who wins this competition? I will bet my money on Person B every single time.
I Need Your Support
This is a snippet of what Rachel Lees Thinks paid subscribers will be able to access and engage with in the coming weeks and months. We will walk through each step of the build, fill, engage, and grow process. That is, we will build your YaaS together.
My hope is that several people pursue and share experiences with their YaaS building project during the work in progress period. I have a feeling other builders will share and collaborate.
And, for the free newsletter, I will also have cool articles. This is my tentative editorial calendar (edcal) category breakdown so far. All of it will be free until I decide to start separating free and paid content.
I have no idea what that timing looks like so, in the meantime …
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