I`m reading Seth Godin`s “Free Prize Inside” and I am reminded that career development is a marketing job. In fact the biggest ongoing marketing job of all time is your career development.

And if you are thinking “Marketing is nothing to do with me, that`s not my job” then you are in trouble.

Here is an official definition of marketing “matching resources to meet customer needs at a profit”. I think this is Kotler`s definition. If you think about your career then you need to match your abilities to meet the needs of a potential employer, and get paid well for it. As you can see it lines up nicely.

For most people marketing is promotion. For Seth, promotion is what you do when your marketing fails. The best example he gives is Amazon, where they stopped advertising on TV and put all that money into making a better product, in this case, free delivery.

The other big message in the book is that companies tend to spend big money on development, where in actual fact something small but innovative would give a better return. For example the free toy inside a cereal packet; a free prize.

The equivalent from a career development perspective, would be not to spend another three years getting another degree (this is the equivalent of a large R&D spend), instead look at what small but significant thing you can do that would catch an employers attention. As an employer, I care little for your qualifications, but I want to see something that differentiates you from the fifty other candidates. Here`s a clue, two degrees doesn`t do it for me. I want a free prize.