This week on the Orlando JobSpot, I got to talk with Clare Whitmell, author of the Job Market Success Blog. In our continued effort to bring real world advice from HR and career experts, I wanted to have Clare talk a bit about standing out and breaking away from the crowd. Below is our conversation.
JobSpot: Let's jump right into it Clare! We talk about it a lot here, in that over the course of a week, some HR pro’s can see hundreds of resumes fly through their inbox. What is going to make your Microsoft Word document stand out?
Clare: Being relevant to the job (not just a question of having the right keywords, but also making it clear through choosing the most relevant aspects of your background that you are a good match for the role)
Showing the company how you can add value to the organization through having the necessary skills / experience to solve problems, and take the company forward
JobSpot: What do you think is one of the most effective ways to break yourself apart from your peers, who have similar skillsets, credentials and work history?
Clare: Nobody is going to be completely the same as you, so work your differences to your favor. This partly comes down to knowing what your personal USP is – the aspect that sets you apart (personal characteristics which are aligned to the company / role) NB this takes good, objective analysis and...
showing real enthusiasm for the role. If you have done your research, know where you can make a difference, understand the challenges and opportunities of the job, then you can project your positive attitude throughout your application – on CV, particularly in your covering letter, and at interview. We'd all rather work with someone who's excited to have the job, excited to bring value to an organization, and a pleasure to be around.
JobSpot: After applying for a position, or turning in a resume – what should the followup steps be, and when do you become a pest and stop being a candidate?
Wait. Don't bombard the company with a follow-up email or phone call. They're likely to have a huge quantity of resumes to read and assess, so taking up their time to ask how yours is doing is counter-productive.
There may be occasions in which you follow-up (if you've left off a vital piece of info, perhaps, or if your info has changed enough to make a difference) but this stage is really out of your control, so stop obsessing over it and go off and do something else instead. Keep looking for good opportunities, keep networking, and keep your cool.
If a recruiter has hinted you'd be a good match, it's worth following up after a decent period (after deadline for applications has expired) as they have direct communication with the employer. How has your application been received? How are you placed regarding other candidates? What sort of timeline is there?
JobSpot: What do you feel about the role of personal branding in a job search?
Clare: It's important to know what defines you in terms of your career and personal goals, and where your strengths lie, so you can better target your ideal position, organization or sector. I've found this to be a useful quote on personal branding:
"Personal Branding links your passions, key personal attributes, and strengths with your value proposition, in a crystal clear message that differentiates your unique promise of value from your peers and resonates with your target audience." (from 10 Steps to Help Define Your Personal Brand Online - Keith Robinson.)
- At the same time, you also need to make sure that your brand (= your professional image) reflects how you want people to think of you.
JobSpot: Can you tell us about your book, Getting a Job in a Recession?
It covers the whole process from search to successful interview; with advice on understanding your skills and values, networking, writing a resume / covering letter, preparing for interviews, and salary negotiations.
I'd like to thank Clare for giving us an insight into the career search, there is some really great information in there from the follow up to defining your personal brand. You can reach Clare on Twitter, @clarewhitmell or visit her blog, Job Market Success.
A qualified business communication trainer, Clare Whitmell blogs CV writing and job hunting tips on www.JobMarketSuccess.com and is a Guardian career expert on http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/clare-whitmell-Greg