Part one of two parts
As a professional “headhunter” who deals with candidates and hiring managers each and every business day, I see the same “mis-branding” mistakes being made over and over by candidates every single day. (You can be assured that other “headhunters,” hiring managers and Human Resources professional also see them, each and every day!) And, while there is no “magic” in the number six, based upon my professional experience, the following SIX mistakes, by far, are the most common, and if you make any (or all) of them, I can practically guarantee that you won’t be hired, or at least not hired anytime soon.
- Candidate name and email address are totally “out of sync” and cannot be easily reconciled by the person “screening” candidates.
- Voice mail messages left with “headhunters,” hiring managers or Human Resources professionals are generally weak and without direction.
- Making the “headhunter,” hiring manager or the Human Resources professional guess which phone number he or she should use to contact the candidate.
- Mis-branding yourself as employed (when you are not); Or, Mis-branding yourself as unemployed (when you are not).
- Mis-branding yourself as a “job hopper.”
- Mis-branding yourself by not branding yourself.
In the first part of this two-part blog, I cover the first THREE most common mis-branding mistakes made by candidates, as well as show you how to easily avoid making them!—and the remaining three in part two.
How to avoid those game changers
In “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!, we show you how to easily avoid making these six most common mistakes, as well as a number of others, and get HIRED!
As recently as just a few years ago—when it was a strong “sellers” market for job candidates—making any (or all) of these six most common mistakes wouldn’t necessarily eliminate a candidate. Today, however, it is an entirely different story. Let me give you a little background to show you how crucial it is today NOT to make any of these mis-branding mistakes.
Our executive search firm, The HTW (Hire to Win) Group, receives approximately 200 resumes a day, as well as 30 to 40 voice mails. (Hiring managers and Human Resources professionals, of course, receive a vastly greater number each and every day!) These communications are from both employed and unemployed professionals who are either responding to career opportunity postings (I hate the phrase “job posting”) or who are reaching out to us to connect.
Significant to note at this point is that, as an executive search firm, we are NOT:
• An employment agency
• An outplacement firm
• A career counseling firm
• Your friend
Rather, our mission—and it’s also the mission of hiring managers and Human Resources professionals!—is to identify, qualify, attract and land top talent for our client companies, the people who “write the check”! When proactively reaching out to us as a candidate, then, in today’s challenging job market you have to earn the right for us to communicate back to you.
Now, let’s examine, in greater depth, the first THREE of the SIX most common mis-branding mistakes candidates make today, as well as the branding solutions to these mistakes.
1. Your name and your email address NOT being aligned – My name is Skip Freeman and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
So what? I just looked and I have 1,126 resumes in my Outlook Inbox “Résumé” folder that I have not yet had time to review yet.
If you call me (and, by the way, I never answer my phone – see point 2 below) and tell me you sent me your résumé, you have moved to the first of the line. When checking voice mail, I, in parallel, open my résumé folder and I will look for your résumé ahead of all others. HOW? You gave me your name in the voice mail and I will enter it in the “search” cell in Outlook. If you tell me your name is “Jim Smith,” I will enter Jim Smith. It is amazing how many times the person will NOT be found! WHY? Because, as it often turns out, the candidate’s email address has nothing to do with his or her name! It is something like email@example.com. It is nice that you were on the LSU swim team but that doesn’t serve you well in competing for new career opportunities if it makes it hard for me to find you.
If I can’t easily find you, I am not going to go looking for you, and neither will other “headhunters,” hiring managers or Human Resources professionals. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day and far too many other candidates who don’t make this mis-branding mistake!
BRANDING SOLUTION: The very simple branding step of connecting your name with a relevant email address.
2. Voice mail messages that are generally weak and without direction. Obviously, many people do not know this: an executive search firm (“headhunter”) does not work for you. You don’t send us the check. And, since I can’t field 30-40 phone calls a day, they go into voice mail and this is actually a step in our “screening” process. (See “How Do You Get Hired? First, Don’t Lose!)
So, when your voice mail message is along these lines—and, unfortunately, most are—you will not get a call back, unless I easily can find your resume (see previous point) and, equally important, it is compelling:
“This is Jim Smith and I saw your posting on The Ladders (or Monster or your web site, etc.). I sent you my resume. I am very interested in this opportunity. I would appreciate a call at. . . .”
As of this writing, I have 29 positions posted. Which one did you see? You sent me your résumé so I will look for it since you called. Can I find it? And, I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t care if you are interested in the opportunity. What I want to know is whether my client will be interested in you? If so, tell me why. Give me a reason to call you back.
BRANDING SOLUTION: The simple step of developing and delivering a compelling reason as to why you will be an excellent candidate for the opportunity so that I will call you back. (Example: “This is Jim Smith. I saw the posting for the piping design engineer position in San Antonio. I have 8 years of experience in piping design, stress analysis and material selection and can be productive in this role in relatively short order. I can be reached at. . . .”
You WILL get a call from me!! You told me why you are relevant to my client!
3. Making me guess which phone number to call. You have your home and work and cell numbers on your résumé. Regardless of what you may think, this does NOT make it easier for me to contact you. I will call just one number. If you don’t call me back, you lose. (For the record, I generally call the cell number.)
Here is a recent example. I had left a voice mail on the cell number of a candidate. A week later he finally called me back and his comment was, “You should have called and left a message on the home phone. That is my wife’s cell phone and she forgot to give me the message.”
Or the candidate who turned off their cell phone to save money! We called him three times over a week because his résumé was extremely strong. When he finally returned the call, he had missed out on the opportunity. His comment, “I was out of minutes so I turned it off until my new plan month started.”
BRANDING SOLUTION: This is a rather obvious one, but I will say it anyway. Have just one phone number on your résumé and either answer the phone or return messages promptly—and, have a professional greeting! (Yes, even the 15-year professional with a great track record will have the “cute” greeting from their 4-year-old on their phone.)
The bottom line? Since “headhunters,” hiring managers and Human Resources professionals are currently inundated with résumés and other forms of contact from candidates—the greatest volume in over three years, with no end in site!—you must UP YOUR GAME! “Little” mistakes that may have once been tolerated or overlooked no longer are!
According to Manpower (the largest staffing firm in the world), 84% of currently employed people would like a new career opportunity. LinkedIn, which, incidentally, just passed the milestone of having over 100 million professionals on their site, reports that 79% of currently employed people say they would like a new opportunity. So, it’s not just the 15 or so million of currently unemployed who are testing the waters in the labor market these days, it’s literally MILLIONS of unemployed and employed people. That means that, to be successful in today’s job market, you have to brand yourself as someone who “stands out from the crowd,” as someone who understands how the “game” is played in today’s job market. Avoiding the simple mistakes discussed in this blog (as well as in the upcoming Part II) will help you do just that.
Next Week: The final three “mis-branding” mistakes and how to avoid making them.
Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.