ASTC Event: Managing your personal brand

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I attended the local Victorian event organised by ASTC (www.astc.org.au) last Thursday (17-Mar). Chris Clarke from M&T Resources and co-founder of yourcareerhouse and has a strong 15 year background in sales, publishing and recruitment.

He shared some really good insights on the recruitment industry in Melbourne and ideas on how to build a strong personal brand leading to more opportunities.

In his presentation, Chris spoke about 3 things:

  • Resume Tips
  • Your personal brand
  • How to manage your recruiter

Resume Tips

It is safe to say that Chris goes through a fair amount number of Resumes. Every single day. In fact, in his experience, a lot of jobs these days see a minimum of 200 applications. A lot of these Resumes are not tailored to the job advert and are very general in nature, making it hard for them to stand out.

According to Chris, a recruiter has only up to 6 seconds to make up their mind about pursuing an application. The Resume should stand out on its own against 100+ other applications. A potential candidate may miss out on a good opportunity only because they cannot sell their skills effectively via the Resume. How do we fix this?

Tailor your Resume
It has probably been said a million times before, but Chris reiterated the fact that you need to tailor your Resume to fit the job requirements. Sure, it may seem like you are spending a lot of time tailor-fitting Resumes in the job search process, but if you really need that job, you will at least need to make an attempt to show that you are serious about it. The first place to do this is to have a Resume that specifically shows your skills match the client/job requirements.

The trick, according to Chris, is to lock away yourself for a good 3-4 hours to create multiple templates of your Resume. Templates that can be used to have tailored or personalised versions of your Resume. Whatever time you spend in a day (working out templates) will pay healthy dividends later.

A short and crisp Resume is a good Resume
Chris shared another insight from his experience working overseas and now Melbourne. He strongly believes Melbourne is a relationship driven city and it is about who you know more than what you know. Unlike in US or UK, recruiters here don’t mind seeing Resumes that go 4-5 pages, so long as they stay relevant. A 1-2 page Resume is great if you can fit everything on it.

One of the most common questions, posed especially by contractors with a lot of projects under their belts or industry veterans is around how much to put on a Resume. Chris recommended putting experience worth the last 10 years on a Resume and then talking about other experience when it comes to face-to-face interviews. Given the pace of technology and innovation across all fields, it is often advisable not to include experience from over 20-30 years, as they become obsolete pretty quickly.

Your personal brand

Chris reckons Linkedin is essentially a digital CV these days. Most of the recruiters or hiring managers turn to Linkedin first to find out more about an applicant before going down the phone or email path. Setting up and updating a Linkedin profile is easy; it is what you put on there and the way you tell a story is what sets it apart from other similar profiles. A good recruiter looks beyond the work experience and sees more of what value a applicant brings to the role.

How do you go about creating/selling your personal brand?
Chris suggests having the following information on Linkedin to add to your personal brand:

  • Treat the summary as an elevator pitch summarising your skills and experience and what value you can bring to an organisation.
  • Instead of merely listing down job responsibilities from previous roles, write a story about who you are as a person. Everyone loves a good story.
  • Mention what you are up to outside your work. Blogs, meetups, volunteering projects, community activities. This clearly shows how you are building your professional equity and becoming a thought leader in your area of expertise.

Manage your recruiter

Recruitment is not a one-way street and there is certainly no master-slave equation these days, says Chris. A good recruitment relationship is bi-directional and beneficially mutual.

Recruiters are essentially filters between clients and candidates and are good at relationship management, which is what makes them the ideal medium.

Working with recruiters
Chris shared some tips on how to get a foot in with your application:

  • After you have applied for a role, you are entitled to call the recruiter 24 hours later about the application. They may not respond right away, but your name will be on their minds when they get to the applications.
  • Sometimes, you could have all the skills, but that does not mean you should get the job. Culture fit is a very important criterion these days, so consider this when you apply for the role.
  • It is perfectly ok to call the recruiter and ask to meet them. This is a good opportunity to meet face-to-face and also explain what you do and what you can bring to the role.
  • You can ask the recruiter questions such as
    a. Do you understand what I do?
    b. How am I looking against other applicants?

Tips to engage with recruiters
Chris recommended the following strategy if you are in the market (or even otherwise) for keeping the job market and opportunities on the radar.

  • Engage with 2 big recruiters to know more about opportunities/openings across bigger organisations. Chris spoke about how big companies usually have a panel of 5-6 recruiters, so your chances may be hampered if you apply for the same role through different recruiters.
  • Liaise with 2 medium consultancies for roles across small-to-medium organisations.
  • Be on the books of a boutique (specialist) agency that specialises in tech writing or complementary areas.
  • Apply to companies directly. It never hurts to contact hiring managers at companies you want to work for directly.

And finally, when you do catch up with a recruiter for coffee, never offer to pay. Recruiters can and will usually expense it, says Chris.

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