To Get Hired, be Authentic
Having spent an embarrassing portion of my misspent youth trying to be someone I wasn't, I probably have middle-age to thank for being perfectly comfortable with being myself. Now that I've gotten to know me better, I kind of like the person I've become.
What does this have to do with getting hired? Plenty, actually. Bear with me, and read on.
Back in the late 1990s, I worked for a small start-up that was a delightfully multi-generational, ethnically diverse group of people. What we all had in common was a driven work ethic and a shared admiration of our CEO, so none of us had difficulty being our authentic selves. Then we were acquired by a Fortune 50 company and had to integrate with new colleagues with whom we shared nothing.
I wanted to get ahead in this company, where the management were all Ivy League grads and members of a club that my original colleagues and I didn't belong to. I started hanging out with the Fortune 50 guys, wearing the designer "dressed for success" clothing they wore, adopting their lingo and basically wearing a large Wannabe sign around my neck. Do I have to point out that I never got promoted there?
I left, and re-joined my former CEO in a new company and had a great career from that point on. Being myself. Owning my personality. In other words, being comfortable with my Professional Brand.
Fast forward to today. I am a job search & career coach, and I write resumes and LinkedIn profiles for my clients. Additionally, I have been an occasional conference speaker and podcast guest, and do you know what the podcast and conference hosts have told me? That my brand is well-articulated and evident to everyone I speak with. And my job is to do that for my clients.
The best way to accomplish this in a resume and on LinkedIn is for job seekers to present themselves in the first person. That's right - construct a brief narrative that articulates who you are and the value proposition you offer an employer. You have a story to tell about yourself that differentiates you from every other human being.
Consider the Accounts Receivables Manager; I've had many clients whose profession this is, and when they list their responsibilities, they all sound pretty much the same. After all, AR is basically the same function the world over. It's my job to identify what makes each person unique, so I can write a summary that starts off their resume with that person's authentic brand.
Sometimes I get pushback from clients who are so accustomed to those hackneyed third person resumes. You know the ones I mean: "Results driven professional, highly successful in leading teams to excellence. Team player...." It doesn't get more generic than that, does it? Feeling safe with the familiar, they hesitate at first, and then discover that they love having a resume and LI profile that sounds as if they, themselves, not a stereotype, are talking.
That's what you're aiming for. A recruiter searching LinkedIn for someone in your field will encounter plenty of professionals in your area who do what you do. Listing your hobbies or volunteer activities is not enough to differentiate you. You've heard of the "elevator pitch," right? Your resume's summary of qualifications and the summary section of your LI profile should resemble an elevator pitch in that you are talking directly to the person you want to interview you. Recruiters should come away from viewing your LI profile page feeling as though they have spoken to you on the initial phone interview.
So don't hide your authentic self - whether you are a policy wonk, a tad eccentric (although professional!), a lover of what you do. Cultural fit is something that everyone wants to achieve, and it sure didn't happen when my company was acquired by the Fortune 50 folks. Being authentic allows recruiters to identify early on individuals who they think will mesh, so give it a try.
Would you like some help crafting your professional brand for a resume and LinkedIn profile that earns you interviews? I'm Lynda Spiegel, founder of Rising Star Resumes, a career coaching and resume writing service. With 15+ years’ experience as a human resources professional, I leverage my experience to help professionals in a variety of industries achieve their career goals. Bragging rights earned as a Wall Street Journal Expert Panelist. Email Lynda@risingstarresumes.net or in the U.S. or Canada call (718) 897 – 5074