I just hired a paid marketing and communications intern for my corporate and personal branding company, BrandingPays LLC. (Congratulations, Pinky—her real name!) Within two weeks of posting my job opening on LinkedIn, I had more than 200 resumes from across the United States and some from other countries. Early on, I carefully looked over each resume. But after the first 25 resumes, I narrowed the time for a first-pass evaluation to about 10 seconds. Based on my experience, I’m sharing six easy tips for personal branding on LinkedIn that can dramatically increase your chances of being hired:
- Expand job titles on LinkedIn profile. Before I reviewed the resume or cover letter, I looked at the email from LinkedIn which summarizes your current position, past positions and education. For instance, if you put “Summer Intern” for your job, it doesn’t say much. But, if you change it to “Intern, Marketing Coordination, Blogger and Special Events,” you now have my attention. Also, LinkedIn lets employers do filtered searches on the job candidates. Since this is keyword based, you need to have the right personal branding words appear in your LinkedIn profile.
- Write a good cover letter. I decided that those who could not take the time to write a thoughtful cover letter were not that interested in the job. It’s amazing that less than 10 percent of candidates bothered to include one with their application. What I looked for is an understanding of my business, the ability to match the job requirements with the candidate’s skills and aptitude, and some clues to their personality—like being upbeat and confident.
- Customize your resume. A strong resume in my mind is not just one that demonstrates good experience, but one that markets the candidate well—crucial to personal branding. I appreciated seeing my position as the job objective at the top and a summary of qualifications that matched the job requirements. Summarizing your strengths up front is key! Don’t make recruiters or hiring managers work to figure out why you are a good candidate. If the job has certain technical requirements, you need to list all that apply. I went through the resumes quickly checking off the requirements I wanted.
- Know the company. Your personal brand is on display from the first moment of contact. When I introduced myself in a phone call to one candidate, she asked, “What is BrandingPays?” She obviously hadn’t researched my company, which ended her chance of getting the job. On the other hand, Pinky, who got the job, had studied my LinkedIn profile, my website and spoke knowledgably about blog posts I had written.
- Show your passion. If it is true, tell the hiring company that this is your dream job and why. Show your interest by following up with emails, offering to send samples of your work, and saying that you will rearrange your schedule to accommodate an interview. Hiring executives like myself want to see evidence of a candidate’s interest in both words and actions.
- Find a connection. You may not always have a recommendation from someone the hiring manager knows. But, it certainly helps. I got a LinkedIn message from a professional acquaintance recommending Pinky. When you have two candidates with equally qualified backgrounds, the one with the recommendation and personal connection will almost always get the job. It’s a matter of trust. However, you can forge a connection with your interviewers by studying their online profiles and finding commonality such as places they have lived, schools attended, sports, films, and hobbies or interests. People are human. We like it when someone shows a personal interest. It makes us feel special and connected—a key to branding, in general, and personal branding, in particular.
These are just my take-aways from my recent experience in hiring through LinkedIn. What advice do you have on how personal branding can enhance the ability to be hired for a job?