Personal Branding Magazine Issue 2 Available

Personal Branding Magazine released its second issue yesterday. As such, I thought I’d make my article available at no charge.

Credibility in the Application Process

By Craig Rentmeester

The job hunting protocol has changed. Five years ago, when Friendster was the social network of choice, online resumes were not widely used. Today, as most people are aware, online resumes, phone interviews and in-depth background checks are commonplace. To succeed in today’s world, with more frequent job and career changes, one must be familiar with the interviewing process, and how it relates to their personal brand, more than ever.

This article is written assuming the worst case scenario; your brand, and network of contacts, is extremely underdeveloped. You haven’t taken
the time to develop tools that work for you professionally, such as professional profiles, association memberships or, my favorite, a blog. Below
you’ll find advice regarding online resumes and gaining entry into a company when your network can’t help.

Online Resumes

As a recent job hunter myself, I think online resume submissions are a pain. Yes, it makes it easy for a company to collect hundreds
of resumes efficiently. However, there is a downside that doesn’t come without consequence to the candidate. One downside of online resumes is the lack of standards from one company to another. Some organizations require you to build a resume within their site. In my opinion, there aren’t many companies worth doing this for. It takes too much with too little guarantee that you’ll make it through to someone with hiring authority. Also, file formats can leave candidates looking ridiculous. At a job interview for a position that involved marketing and graphic design work, my resume looked as if it were designed by a six year old. There was no alignment whatsoever. I was appalled when I saw it.
Luckily, I corrected the mistake by handing out resumes that I printed out beforehand.

File formatting problems occur when companies don’t accept files in PDF format, even though it is the universal way to send and receive
documents. As any frequent computer user will tell you, Mac and PC users alike, Microsoft Word’s .doc format can play tricks with formatting.

Another thing that I dislike about online resume submission is that each candidate’s resume ends up looking roughly the same. Any
risk-taking possibilities are minimized when resumes must be submitted as MS Word documents.

From an Expert

To gain insight as to how candidates can stick out from a pile of resumes, I got in touch with Sue Dorgan, assistant vice president of human resources at M & I Bank. With 12 years of experience in human resources, she provided advice and identified pitfalls that are useful to those
in the job hunt.

“Let the recruiter know that you have applied online and give them the spelling of your last name, so they can look you up in their
applicant system,” Says Dorgan. “Then, let the recruiter know that you have questions regarding the position and you would appreciate a return call.”

“Most recruiters will return your call,” added Dorgan. “When they do return your call, inquire about the interview process and express your
interest in meeting with the recruiter personally to discuss your qualifications, but don’t go overboard and be pushy. The last thing you want to
do is have the recruiter get a negative impression of you.

Dorgan estimated that over one-third of the applications she receives have spelling or grammatical errors.

“Online applications are even worse in terms of error ratio, with approximately 50% having spelling errors,” said Dorgan.

In my mind, with all of the user-generated content on the Web today, spelling and grammar are two things that aren’t taken for granted
anymore. YouTube, AIM and MySpace have exposed low quality writing skills that many people possess today.  

Spelling and grammar mistakes damage credibility and reputations, two pillars of any strong brand.

The In-Person Pitch

Assuming you’ve networked well enough to get your resume forwarded on through friends, there will come a time when you don’t know
someone at company you’re interested in. Sometimes, the company will even put “no phone calls, please” in the job posting itself.

How are you supposed to differentiate yourself, show interest in the job, and get your foot in the door from applying solely online,
without knowing anyone internally at the company? You won’t. This company has nothing invested in you or your network. Thus, the company has no reason to think you’re any different from any other applicant. Once you’ve realized this situation, it’s time to alter the odds more in your favor.

I suggest taking a page out of the direct sales playbook. Show up at the company. Then, ask for five minutes with either the person
handling the hiring or the department manager.

Before doing this, you should find out the contact for the position. It will help you get your foot in the door. Also, you should create a
data CD or DVD with your cover letter, resume, reference sheet and relevant work examples. Use this disc as your leave behind./p>

This tactic won’t always work, but it can help you get past the red tape that companies put up, for some reason, during the interview
process.

Another way to get a brief meeting, and some valuable face time, is to call and ask for an informational interview. Most companies, and
professionals, will oblige. This can, and should, be done even when you’re not looking for a job. It helps grow your network and can help with landing a job in the future.

I’d recommend using these tactics if you’re looking to relocate to new area, out of state.

The Takeaway

So, to recap, the takeaway points of this article are to follow up with companies you’ve applied to, proofread everything more than once, and if your network can’t help you gain entry into a company, don’t be afraid to show in person, prepared to give your pitch.

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