Posts Tagged ‘personal branding’

What to Research Before a Job Interview

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

You know that weird feeling between excitement and dread that accompanies an invitation to interview? It’s especially strong when you know next to nothing about your potential workplace.

However, even if the first time you’ve ever heard of the company you’re interviewing with was the day you sent in your application, you can still walk in like you’ve known about the place for years. The key is to do some pre-interview research to make sure you can handle anything specific to the company that might come up (and offer suggestions to address the company’s particular situation if afforded the opportunity). Below are some topics and strategies you might consider.

Keep in mind, of course, that they will likely be researching you as well, going beyond just your resume and cover letter. So make sure you research yourself as well and clean up your online presence as much as possible!

1. The skills and experience the company values.

First and foremost, you should know what the company looks for in a qualified candidate. This enables you to position yourself as the best candidate for the position.

To discover the skills and experience the employer values, read between the lines of their job postings. You can also find out information on the employer’s career page to get an idea of the type of employees their desire. In addition, reach out to current employees who work there and ask them about what their employer values most in the workplace.

2. Key players of the organization.

The key players within an organization are those employees who hold important positions in the company. These individuals can be managers, department directors, and especially the CEO/president of the company.

You can find out who the key players of the organization by reading the employer’s “About” page and employee bios. It’s also a good idea to check out what these individuals say on Twitter and LinkedIn to learn what employees say about the company online.

3. News and recent events about the employer.

When you go into a job interview, it’s always a good idea to be knowledgeable about the company’s latest news and updates.

Most companies have a page on their website dedicated to press releases and events. This is a great source for you to find out information regarding the company’s latest news and updates.

4. The company’s culture, mission, and values.

Job seekers should be able to confidently say they’re good fit for the company’s culture during any job interview. In fact, a Millennial Branding study says 43 percent of HR professionals believe cultural fit is the most important quality job seekers can have during the hiring process.

As you research the employer, pay attention to what’s written on their website regarding the company’s values and mission. You can also learn more about the company culture by following the organization on its social media networks.

5. Clients, products, and services.

As a potential employee, you need to have an idea of the type of work you’d be doing once hired. By having a general idea of who the company’s clients are and the types of products and services are offered, you’ll be more prepared for the interview, too.

To find out the company’s offerings, you can usually find them on the company’s website. You can also read through the company’s blog, case studies, and white papers to give you a better idea of their accomplishments.

6. The inside scoop.

To ensure you’re fully prepared for the job interview, websites such as Glassdoor help job seekers discover the inside details of a company that can’t be found on the employer’s website.

With these sites, you can typically find information such as salary figures, employee functions and duties, company reviews, details about the hiring process, and more.

7. The person interviewing you.

Finally, you should find out who the interviewer will be. This will give you an advantage during the interview because you’ll have a better chance of connecting with them and sparking a meaningful conversation.

Now it might be a little tricky trying to find out who the interviewer is, but you should be able to locate the person’s name with a little investigation. First, try locating the person’s name from email you received regarding the interview. If you can’t find any information, reply to the email politely requesting the name of the person who’ll interview you.

Once you acquire the interviewer’s name, do some research on LinkedIn and Twitter. This will help you learn about the interviewer’s background, their position with the company, and even some common interests you both share.

Good luck!

7 Things to Research Before Any Job Interview | Heather Huhman via Glassdoor.

Why a Targeted Resume is Critical

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

When applying for a job, it’s your responsibility to prove you’re the best candidate. This can be challenging if you can’t provide examples showing that this is, indeed, the case. A great way to show your worth is by focusing on what the employer needs most from the candidate who will fill the position, then tailoring your resume to address those needs specifically.

Targeting Your Resume Proves You Are the Best Fit for the Position

Employers absolutely need to know that the candidate they choose for a job is the best fit, which they do by confirming that a candidate’s past accomplishments and current skill set fall in line with the important day-to-day tasks and overarching goals of the position.

If you submit a generic resume that doesn’t address the specific needs of each company and showcase your professional capabilities, you are failing to prove that you are right for the position. And unfortunately, another candidate will be more than willing to pick up your slack — and take your dream job while they’re at it.

How Can You Ensure Your Resume Is Targeted?

So how do you create a targeted resume that will emphatically show an employer that you deserve the interview? Here are a few brief suggestions:

Research the company and position:

A great way to target your resume is to dig in and learn about the company and what the employer wants from its candidates. Once you acquire this information, you will be armed with specifics that can help you determine what contributions you can make to the company.

Customize a job target/title, branding statement, and career summary:

Instead of writing a bland objective statement, place a job target/title at the top of your resume that defines who you are as a professional. Also, create a branding statement (a one- or two-line statement that sums up the value you can offer each employer based upon their needs and how you can meet them) that is customized to the specific job. Then write a career summary (most commonly a bullet point list that shares your career highlights) listing accomplishments most pertinent to the position at the top.

Utilize keywords throughout:

It’s also important to utilize specific keywords in your resume. For example, if you are applying as an executive chef in the hospitality industry, you might incorporate keyword phrases like “menu planning”, “kitchen equipment”, “banquet meal production”, and “procurement of food supplies” as indicators of your knowledge of the field. Keywords should be used in your job target/title, branding statement, career summary, and most other sections in your resume.

Though targeting your resume requires a bit more effort (a resume writing professional can help!), it offers a lot more in return. By taking the time to customize a resume for each application, you give those companies no doubt that you are the best candidate for the job.

Good luck!

Why Writing Targeted Resumes is More Critical Than You Think | Jessica Holbrook Hernandez via HCareers.

How to Survive a Stress Interview

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Stress interviews are a job-seeker’s nightmare—unless you’re prepared.

Everything is going smoothly in your job interview. But then you’re asked why a tennis ball has fuzz.

In another interview, your questioner treats you rudely before asking, “How do you think this interview is going?”

Should you run for the hills? Not necessarily. You’re likely experiencing a torturous technique called the stress interview. This method involves making an interviewee uncomfortable to see how he or she can perform under pressure. It’s especially prevalent in the tech industry.

Creative companies like Google and Facebook are famous for using stress questions. They want to see if potential hires are flexible and confident.

The bad news: stress interviews are increasingly common. The good news: the five tips below should help you keep cool.

Don’t sweat the details. Your interviewer cares less about how you answer a stress question than about whether you can stay confident. So concentrate on your attitude, not on the specifics.

Listen. Take time to listen to the question and fully understand it before you start talking. A question like “Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?” is easier if you don’t rush. (Answer: Mt. Everest.)

Do your research. If you can, set up an informational interview with a contact inside the company to learn about the interview process and the company in general.

Be honest. Some stress questions test your honesty, such as “What interests you least about this job?” You can answer tactfully without lying: “I’m sure this job will have some menial tasks I won’t enjoy, like paperwork. But that’s part of any job.”

Own it. Even if your answer is a complete disaster, stay confident and secure in your choice. Your composure will make an impression.

Good luck!

5 Ways to Survive the World’s Worst Job Interview | Rose Cahalan via The Alcalde.

How to Get Over Imposter Syndrome

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Recently landed a new promotion? Finally got that manager position you’ve been working towards for years? Been recruited by some top companies for great new roles (maybe even that dream job you’ve been waiting for)? Feel like you don’t deserve any of it?

Yes? Welcome to the club! You’re experiencing the often crippling effects of “imposter syndrome.” It happens to the best of us, even the most famous and successful people out there.

Imposter syndrome occurs when we feel like a fraud—when we feel that our successes are undeserved. We convince ourselves they’re based on luck, timing, or other factors outside of our control, instead of embracing the fact that we’re actually responsible for having made those successes happen. Imposter syndrome makes us think irrationally about our aptitudes and performance: We don’t believe we’ve excelled, and we don’t believe we deserve the rewards that come along with our success.

The irony is that the further you go in your career, the more opportunities there are for imposter syndrome to rear its ugly head. You didn’t get that promotion because you earned it, you got it because you were lucky. You didn’t get to lead that project because you had the most experience on the team—you got it because timing worked out. That dream job wasn’t offered because of your stellar resume—maybe you’re just a diversity hire.

The bad news is: It’s not likely you’ll ever be able to fully rid yourself of imposter syndrome. But the good news is: There are ways to combat it! You can train yourself to quickly identify it, manage it, and live to rise again.

Identify What’s Shaking Your Confidence

Is it your new job title? Is it a certain senior-level meeting you’ve been invited to attend? Is it a high-stakes project you’ve been asked to lead? What is it that’s making you feel doubtful?

In most cases, the answer will be obvious: I don’t deserve to lead this project because so-and-so is more experienced than I am. I haven’t worked at the company long enough. I only aced my last project out of luck or good timing. That spot where you’re underselling yourself is likely the root of the problem.

Once You’ve Identified the Confidence Culprit, Tell Someone

Pick someone you trust to talk about your waning self-confidence. If it’s a work problem, make sure to confide in someone who isn’t your co-worker or manager. Choose someone who sees you outside of that environment: He or she can identify when those feelings of fear are irrational and remind you of your strengths.

Remind Yourself of All of Your Achievements

If you don’t have an accomplishments box, start now by recounting your most recent accomplishments (or even better, get those achievements on your resume). Take a look at everything you’ve achieved, and reflect on all the hard work you’ve put in to get to where you are now. Embrace the fact that you got yourself to where you are. You’ve earned your spot—your accomplishments are proof of that.

Remind Yourself That the People Who Got You Here Are Incredibly Competent and They Did Not Make a Mistake

You did not pull a fast one on anyone. Your boss or hiring manager—who you may believe didn’t see the many gaps in your resume—is not an idiot. Don’t doubt the intelligence of those who have promoted you, hired you, or offered you opportunities. They have made deliberate choices based on your experience and potential. You really do deserve to be there.

Take a Risk

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Write it down, say it out loud, tell someone else, and do it. The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work. So what? Do the work and keep going. Don’t let imposter syndrome derail you from what’s rightfully yours.

Take a Hard Look at Your Language and Update It

Do you say “I feel” a lot? How about using “I think” to start your sentences? Have you been pitching ideas prefaced with “It might just be me, but?” Rein in that doubt! Update your language with more confident, assertive phrases, and you’ll start to believe in what you’re saying. Assume your questions are valid, and that you’re probably not the only one to have them. Try: “I have a question—and I’m sure I’m not the only one.” Champion your ideas through more assertive language.

Reframe Your Story by Writing it Down

Imagine you’re speaking at a conference and that you have to provide an introductory bio for the panelist moderator. What would you say, and how would you say it? Would you tout your accomplishments or brush them off as if they were insignificant? Take an afternoon to write out your personal story. Who are you and how did you get to where you are? Let yourself shine on paper. Then, accept that it’s all true.

Try Mentoring

Guess what, imposter syndrome sufferer? You have expertise to share. Share it with someone who needs it. Not only will you realize how much knowledge you really do have, you’ll also likely uncover new strengths in the process. Mentoring can reveal skills you took for granted or mistakenly assumed came from luck. It’s empowering to know you are helping someone in their journey.

Take Solace in the Truth That Imposter Syndrome Is a Symptom of Success

Famous actors, authors, artists, CEOs—the most successful people are those most likely to have imposter syndrome. If you’re feeling like a fraud, believe it or not, you are doing something right. So play your pump up jams. Say your personal mantra. Do your power pose. You’ve got this.

No matter how successful someone is or has been, no one is free from lingering doubts regarding their own abilities. It’s easy to get sidelined by worry about your own competency, concerned that everything you have earned is due to luck, deception, or blindness on the part of managers, rather than your own talent. But whenever your confidence wanes, keep that list of accomplishments on your resume firmly in your mind… let the successes of the past serve as the foundation for your future success, not as excuses to fall short or reasons to doubt.

Good luck!

How to Banish Imposter Syndrome and Embrace Everything You Deserve | Ximena Vengoechea via The Muse.

Do You Need a Resume in the LinkedIn Era?

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Now that LinkedIn (alongside numerous other online portals) has become the standard place to present your professional history and credentials — not to mention the fastest way to check somebody else’s — the humble resume has lost its once-hallowed position as the canonical version of your professional identity. Your LinkedIn profile should be the most-viewed and most current version of your professional life. But that has many people asking: Do I even need an old-fashioned resume anymore?

The answer is a highly qualified, but definite, “yes”.

The Value of LinkedIn

In the past, resumes have served several functions:

  1. Applying for a job: When you’re applying for an advertised position, you almost certainly need to submit a resume as part of the application process.
  2. Job hunting: Even if you’re not applying for a specific job, you may still use a resume as part of your search process, as a way of introducing yourself to people who may be interested in your skills.
  3. Professional credentialing: Resumes act as a way of establishing your professional credentials in many circumstances, like grant applications, requests for proposals, and conference or speaker submissions.
  4. Professional memory: Your resume is your own professional memory. Keeping it up-to-date is a way of ensuring you don’t forget the professional accomplishments or qualifications you may want to highlight during your next job hunt.

In the world of LinkedIn, blogs, and professional landing pages (a.k.a. “nameplate” sites), however, most of these functions can be better accomplished through your online presence. If you are job hunting, send people to your LinkedIn page instead of sending a PDF of your resume. (Unlike a resume, a solid LinkedIn profile includes not only your self-proclaimed qualifications, but testimonials from colleagues, clients, and employers.) If you need to establish your professional credentials, sending someone a link to your LinkedIn page will often be the most efficient way to convey your relevant experience. And for maintaining a professional memory, LinkedIn is unbeatable, precisely because it’s easy to update, and because you’re likely visiting the site on a regular basis.

To serve any of these purposes, however, your LinkedIn presence must be well-crafted and up-to-date. Even if you aren’t sending people to your LinkedIn page, it is likely to be one of the first results for anyone who Googles you to find out about your professional qualifications and experience. That’s why you need to ensure it’s accurate, compelling, and current; unless you’re updating your LinkedIn profile monthly or at least quarterly, you’re not putting your best foot forward. Setting up a memorable short URL for your LinkedIn profile, and including that URL in your email signature line, is a good way to remind yourself that this is something people are going to look at regularly.

Blogs, Websites, and Landing Pages

For all its merit, LinkedIn has limitations: you have to fit your career story into its structure, and you have only minimal control over formatting. That’s why many professionals use their own blog, personal website, or professional landing page to craft a more strategic online presence. For many professionals, the best bet is to maintain several presences, customized to different purposes, so that you can point people to the presence that is relevant to each specific scenario. For example, you might maintain:

  • A speaking profile: Professionals who do a lot of speaking or conference submissions would do well to create a specialized presence on a speaker directory like ExpertFile (formerly Speakerfile), a nameplate site like about.me, or even on Slideshare.
  • A services profile: If you offer services as a independent contractor, whether that’s as a web developer, a designer, a coach or an accountant, setting up a landing page for your contract work can be an efficient place to point potential clients.
  • An author profile: If you have a book, blog, or publication file, you will want to profile yourself for readers or future writing assignments with an author page on Amazon, a writing marketplace like MediaBistro, or a web presence for your book.

Why You Still Need a Resume

When you are actually applying for a job, however, neither LinkedIn nor a professional landing page can replace the resume. A strong resume is still the gateway to an interview, and with more and more employers relying on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) — software that screens resumes to determine which applications warrant human review — you need a resume that you can upload to those systems. Nor can it be the same resume for every application; since an ATS typically screens for specific qualifications and keywords, you need to customize your resume for each job (or type of job) that you apply for, and optimize it for ATS screenings.

If anything, though, LinkedIn will be helpful at least as a reminder for keeping your resume as updated as possible. The standard wisdom — treat your resume as a living document that you update anytime you have a new accomplishment to record — applies to LinkedIn as well, and the two should be kept updated in parallel.

Technology and social media have transformed our daily lives in innumerable ways, with networking and job searching being just two areas where we regularly experience this constant change. But there are still ways in which the old-fashioned, the tried-and-true, remain relevant, and such it is with the humble resume. Don’t count it out yet.

Good luck!

Do You Need a Résumé in the LinkedIn Era? | Alexandra Samuel via Harvard Business Review.

Honesty and White Lies in Job Interviews

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

In an attempt to impress recruiters and hiring managers, many applicants fall back on their usual bag of interview tricks: “Weaknesses? Probably my perfectionism.” Companies, however, are likely looking for more authenticity from their candidates, rather than mere polished half-truths. But what about those tougher questions? Questions about your plans for a family, or your reason for leaving your past employer? Sometimes candidates can suffer from being too honest.

Here are a few tips on when to be brutally honest in job interviews, and in which situations a tiny white lie might be allowed.

When You Must Be Honest

HR managers and headhunters want confident and down to earth candidates. But recruiters can only determine whether you’re a good fit for the company when you’re completely honest. In regards to your performance, your experience, and your qualifications, you should always be honest – otherwise, you’re really shooting yourself in the foot. Did you write in your resume that you’re fluent in Japanese? Then be prepared to demonstrate your skills in the interview, if requested. Remember that even if your new employers only call your bluff once you’ve already gotten the job, you may be handed a huge project – like handling a merger between your company and a larger Japanese corporation. Oops.

Instead of making up important details, focus on your strengths. Explain that your gift for critical reflection makes you a perfect candidate. Tell your interviewer where your leadership skills lie and reinforce your argument with concrete examples. You should also indicate your level of leadership experience with honesty. There’s a big difference between having led a department, or a team that only consisted of three interns. Be sincere – even leading a small team has given you some experience, and it’s better to tell the truth than to fabricate. Explain what you learned from this experience and how you can transfer this knowledge to the position in question. In this way, HR managers can get a clear image of who you are, and they’ll know from the beginning if you need further training, what kind of further developments could be helpful to you, and in which departments you could lend your knowledge.

React tactfully to questions about your weaknesses and missing areas of knowledge. In these situations, a good preparation is necessary. Consider in advance how you want to explain your weaknesses. Avoid standard answers like “I’m too ambitious,” or “I can’t work without structure” – HR managers have heard all of these before. You don’t necessarily need to choose “weaknesses” that simply disguise strengths. Rather, choose real weaknesses, then show that you acknowledge them, and are working to improve them. For example, you could say something like, “I have difficulties speaking in front of large groups. So for the last three months, I’ve been taking seminars on rhetoric and public speaking to try and improve.”

When It’s Better to Lie

In a job interview, it’s in your best interest to be honest about your professional experience, your qualifications, as well as your strengths and weaknesses. However, as soon as your interviewer begins to ask questions about your private life, you should be very cautious with your answers. Here, too much honesty can seriously affect your chances to get the position.

Why are you looking for a new position?

Suppose you’re asked why you want to leave your current employer. When you mercilessly begin to complain and whine about your shamefully small paycheck, your incompetent management, and your awful working conditions, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Consider an alternative response: you’ve exhausted all possibilities for further development at your current job, and so you’re looking for new challenges. Maybe you need a professional change of direction. But in any case, you should leave private and personal reasons aside.

What kind of hobbies do you enjoy?

Hobbies show recruiters and headhunters what your passions are. Are you a team player? Are you dedicated? Pay attention that your hobbies don’t define or pigeonhole you. You should avoid detailing your passion for bungee jumping or mountain climbing in the Himalayas. Why? Your interviewer might decide that you’re a liability, or that you could hurt yourself and take months of sick leave. In addition, this might lead your interviewer to assume that you’re a huge risk taker.

Are you planning on starting a family?

Especially for women in their 30s, this question is very likely to be asked, even though HR managers in the US aren’t technically allowed to. Don’t let a question like this faze or upset you. Politely ask how this question relates to your skills and qualifications – then change the subject discreetly. Your desire to have children, your political views, your religious affiliations – none of these belong in a job interview. Consider inappropriate questions like this, and prepare some short answers in advance. If in doubt, a little white lie is allowed.

Any other questions?

Certainly, a few questions must be on your mind – but some of them shouldn’t be asked in one of your first job interviews. Candidates that ask too eagerly about the number of vacation days never make a good impression. Instead, ask about the company’s options for further education and training – this signals your motivation and readiness to learn.

Keep this admonition in mind: when it comes to being honest in a job interview, it’s usually a question of strategic preparation and the right spin, rather than embellishment and white lies.

Good luck!

Honesty in Job Interviews – How Much is Too Much? | Susanne Schlossbauer via experteer Magazine

There’s No Need to Pad Your Resume

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Maybe you’ve had a bit of a bad employment record in recent years, due to downsizing, a wretched economy, or even mistakes on the job. Maybe you just don’t have the impressive educational background that many other professionals in your field boast.

It seems harmless enough, to add a few things to the resume to pad it out, impress the hiring manager with a white lie or two. Everyone else is probably doing it to, right? Your resume might even look out of place if you didn’t. And employers would never have the time to check everything out…

Cheating on a resume can be tempting, especially when one has been searching for a job for months or even years. But these kinds of decisions can haunt a professional for the rest of their career, as several high profile examples at Yahoo and other companies have shown.

This is because, since resume fraud is on the rise, employers are taking much more care in verifying information, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to mislead them. Even if your “creativity” seems to slip through the cracks and remain undiscovered, do you really want to live in fear the rest of your career that your secret will be uncovered?

There is good news, however: lying isn’t necessary if your resume is well-written and strategically organized.

So let’s address the greatest areas where embellishment is often utilized: education and accomplishments.

padding

Education doesn’t top an employer’s list
Many people incorrectly believe hiring decisions are made based on the candidate’s education, and they feel compelled to stretch the truth in order to compete with their degreed counterparts. The reality is that education, though important, isn’t the driving force behind hiring decisions unless, of course, your profession requires a degree (e.g. doctors, lawyers, CPAs, etc.).

When a candidate lacks a college degree but has a solid work history, education quickly falls down the ladder of necessary requirements. Let’s take a look at this point from an employer’s perspective.

The situation: The job description reads, “Seeking an accounts payable specialist with comprehensive experience in processing expense reports, reconciling vendor accounts, and performing bank reconciliations. Successful candidate holds an associate’s degree in accounting.”

Candidate #1: Jose has worked in accounts payable for the last five years. During his career, he has set up new policies, cross-referenced purchase orders with invoices, and interacted with vendors to resolve invoice discrepancies. His experience comes from the school of hard knocks and he doesn’t have a college education.

Candidate #2: Maria recently received a bachelor’s degree in accounting. While earning her degree she worked as a front desk clerk for a Fortune 500 company where she was in charge of filing and answering a multi-line phone system.

Who would you rather hire, Jose or Maria? Chances are that you named Jose as the clear winner because his experience supercedes Maria’s education. Jose will be able to jump into the position with little or no training because he has hands-on knowledge of best accounting practices. Maria, on the other hand, is green. The hiring organization would have to spend time, money, and resources to train her, which they most likely won’t have an interest in doing.

padding-resume

Show ’em what you’ve got (for real)
Employers spend most of their time scrutinizing the experience section of the resume, and unfortunately, the homespun resume rarely tells the whole story. Most resume do-it-yourselfers fear their accomplishments won’t fare well against the competition and they decide to embellish facts in an effort to attract an employer’s attention.

Again, fabricating information isn’t necessary. Most likely the experience you have garnered throughout your work history is impressive. The challenge, however, is expressing your accomplishments in a way that entices the hiring organization to give you a call.

When dealing with hiring organizations you have to connect all the dots. For each position that you are applying for, there is an average of 500 applicants so you have to make it very easy for the reader to distinguish between you and every other qualified candidate. The only way to achieve that is by writing strong resume copy.

As a job seeker you are intimately involved in your own search, so much so that it is hard to take a step back and write a resume that is marketable. You are probably your own worst critic. If you have attempted to write your own resume you know how difficult it is to write about yourself objectively.

To make the resume-writing process easier, answer the following:

1. What skill set do you bring to the table?
2. What are your competitive strengths?
3. For each position you held, list three to five achievements.
4. How is your company better off since you joined their team?
5. Have you been involved in designing and/or implementing new initiatives?

The point here is to start thinking about your career as a portrait of who you are professionally, and not just as a job. When you make that mind shift, it will be easier to put words to paper. Lying isn’t a necessary evil. The trick to obtaining the job you desire is making the most of what you have to offer.

Good luck!

There’s No Need to Pad Your Resume | Linda Matias via Marketing Hire

Creative Things Job Seekers Have Done To Get Noticed

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Following up on our article from last year, where we explored some of the wacky things people have done to get a job, I thought we’d return to the whimsical this week by exploring some more “job seekers behaving badly” to see what other bizarre strategies people have employed to get employed.

From over the top resumes to publicity stunts to some rather creepy (borderline stalking) methods… you get the picture.

A few years ago, Careerbuilder conducted a survey of several thousand hiring managers and HR professionals nationwide to share the most memorable methods job candidates have used to stand out from the competition, and whether their creativity got them hired or cost them the opportunity.

And while a number of rather kooky options did result in a job, some of the others were not so successful. Taking a creative approach to the job application and interview process can be risky, in other words. But like some macabre, train wreck exhibit in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, here are a few of the more unusual ones that respondents recalled.

job-hunt

10 creative techniques that worked:

1. Candidate contracted a billboard outside of employer’s office.

2. Candidate gave a resume on a chocolate bar.

3. Candidate showed up in a suit with a red T-shirt underneath a white shirt. The red T-shirt had a message – “Hire me, I work hard.”

4. Candidate asked to be interviewed in Spanish to showcase his skills.

5. Candidate crafted the cover letter like an invitation to hire her rather than a request (similar to a wedding invitation).

6. Candidate climbed on a roof the employer was repairing and asked for a job.

7. Candidate performed a musical number on the guitar about why he was the best candidate.

8. Candidate volunteered to help out with making copies when he saw interviewer’s assistant was getting frazzled.

9. Candidate repaired a piece of company’s equipment during the first interview.

10. Candidate sent a message in a bottle.



helicopter-resume

10 creative techniques that didn’t work:

1. Candidate back-flipped into the room.

2. Candidate brought items from interviewer’s online shopping wish list.

3. Candidate sent a large fruit basket to interviewer’s home address, which the interviewer had not given her.

4. Candidate did a tarot reading for the interviewer.

5. Candidate dressed as a clown.

6. Candidate sent interviewer some beef stew with a note saying “Eat hearty and hire me J.”

7. Candidate placed a timer on interviewer’s desk, started it, and told interviewer he would explain in 3 minutes why he was the perfect candidate.

8. Candidate sent interviewer a lotto ticket.

9. Candidate wore a fluorescent suit.

10. Candidate sent in a shoe to “get their foot in the door.”

So the bottom line is that some hiring managers will appreciate a more unconventional approach to applying and interviewing for a job, others may not. It often comes down to knowing your audience. For example, a clever technique that may help you land a job at an advertising firm may not necessarily work for a more conservative law firm.

If you’re planning to do something unconventional, first ask yourself, ‘Does this help to exemplify my skills and experience?’ If the answer is no, then don’t. Whatever you say or do in an interview should be relevant to the position at hand. You want the interviewer to remember you for the right reasons, not just because you stood on your head the whole time.

An even better way to stand out: come in with ideas. It shows vision and initiative. Many candidates don’t do this, so you’ll immediately stand out. Focus on specific ways you have contributed to other organizations, so the employer sees what you can do for them.

And remember, for every memorable stunt that landed a job, there is one that forever marked a job seeker as either desperate or a little bit crazy… these stories get around so rather than being a good laugh at the water cooler, shoot for being remembered as an articulate candidate with good ideas.

Good luck!

20 Creative Things Job Seekers Have Done To Get Noticed | Jacquelyn Smith via Forbes

Beware the Risks of Resume Humor

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

resume-funny

Another frequent way that job candidates attempt to set themselves apart from the competition (besides the bizarre options mentioned before) is via humor.

While it’s certainly fine to inject a touch of wit and personality into your application materials, don’t go overboard with the playfulness. Prospective employers seek insights into your skills – not your wacky sense of humor. Hiring managers won’t take you seriously if your top priority seems to be cracking one-liners.

Check out some of the over-the-top comments job candidates have inserted into their resumes (from a recruiting company that has likely seen them all):

“JOB HISTORY: As a consultant, I was responsible for public service announcements, identity packages, brochures, client meetings and approximately 73 chewed-up pen caps.”

We’ll be sure to lock the supply closet.

“LANGUAGE ABILITIES: I can bark like a dog and make the best monkey sounds ever.”

Not the bilingual skills we had in mind.

COVER LETTER: “I’m entertaining, but be warned that I’ve got a potty mouth. Ha-ha.”

We’re going to have to swear off this candidate.

joke

“JUST FOR FUN: A self-proclaimed ‘Lord of the Geeks,” I am a true champion of useless knowledge.”

You said it, not us.

“TRAININGS: Currently training to become humorous.”

That gives new meaning to the phrase, “Flex your funny bone.”

“TALENTS: I do not slurp my coffee loudly during Skype meetings.”

We’ll drink to that.

“OTHER POSITIONS I WOULD CONSIDER: Hot tub tester.”

Nice work if you can get it.

So keep in mind the main purpose of your resume: to sell your skills and your background to a particular company, for a particular role, and not to entertain. A bit of levity is certainly warranted in some situations but don’t derail your job search by appearing to be less than serious about the application process; after all, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other applicants waiting in line behind you should you come across as more wit than substance.

Good Luck!

Resumania: Beware the Risks of Resume Humor via Robert Half

Tone Down Your Resume To Improve Results

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Dancing Resume

In the past, we have highlighted some of the crazy, over-the-top resumes that people have used to try to get attention, from candy bars to beer to odd videos to Legos to billboards to wandering around the streets with a sign. From the amount of media attention that sort of behavior gets, you would be forgiven for thinking that trying something equally creative is a must, if you want to make an impression.

But while that sort of thing may get you hired at Google or a media company (if you’re the first person, and not the second or third, to try it), where creativity is valued above all else, it might not get you anywhere if you’re trying to land an HR generalist role at a small construction company. It’s important to tailor your resume to your audience, if you want to stand out with the types of companies and hiring managers appropriate to your discipline. A recent blog article addressed this disconnect:

Unfortunately, the media’s need for sound bites and traffic-generation often supersedes providing pragmatic value to the job-seeking audience. While boots-on-the-ground resume strategists who have intimate experience working alongside job seekers sit quietly holding their tongues, the airtime often goes to reports touting sexy, outlandish resume methods under the guise of ingenuity.

If this confusing message has sent your blood pressure soaring and compelled you to seek the craftiest way to market yourself, calm down – creative resumes that tell a ‘value story’ still net the best results.

More than ever, in fact, doing the roll-up-your-sleeves work to research your target company, hiring manager and company culture is critical. By doing the arduous work in understanding your recipient’s needs and then vetting out your methods of fulfilling those requirements in your resume, cover letter, emails, elevator pitches, biographies and social media profiles you will ultimately stand apart and get the right person’s attention.

While the flash-in-the-pan resume infographics may dazzle a news reporter, the reader that matters is the one who will choose your resume from the stack of thousands and ask you for the interview. That person is silently waiting for the most qualified candidate, not the most innovative sound-bite resume.

So the bottom line is: know your audience. Stay away from the kooky and weird; even if they worked the first time, by the time you hear about them, they are already old hat and you definitely don’t want to be someone who is the second or third or even fourth person to send a no longer clever gimmick to a hiring manager.

The Perfect Resume

Instead of wacky and weird, think targeted and framed. Don’t spend a hundred years trying to think of the perfect, original idea to craft the perfect resume; focus on getting your individual value across as succinctly as possible to the people who make the hiring decisions. Regain control of the mess your resume has become and remember that, ultimately, it’s not about you and your resume… it’s about THEM.

Good luck!

How To Tone Down Your Resume For Better Results | Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter via Glassdoor