Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Do QR Codes Belong On Résumés?


Very occasionally I see QR Codes on résumés.  I am open to the idea, but I doubt that currently they are of any use.  Maybe they will be appropriate in a few years, but certainly not now.

QR Codes were invented in Japan and originally were for the auto makers.  They were/are for use on mobile devices and provided a link to more content on the advertiser’s web site.  Subsequently, they have expanded beyond automotive into many products and services.  We see them now in various print vehicles – magazines, bus shelter ads, transit, etc.  Ironically, few mobile phones actually have a code scanner pre-installed, but of course they can be downloaded.  

So what are they doing on résumés?

I strongly doubt that too many HR people are actually scanning QR Codes on résumés to enter a candidate’s web site. (I downloaded a scanner and looked look at about half a dozen résumés I received that contained these codes. I found that the codes were mostly misused because they connected to a website that  only showed the résumé – few candidates other than creative people who have portfolios on line actually have a real website that gives any additional information.  And résumés should contain a link to the portfolio, which can be accessed through any computer.  I did see one account manager who had case histories, but they were long and boring and I did not bother to read them. After doing this download, I uninstalled he reader.)

I also strongly doubt that there are any companies that have scanner capabilities for résumés in the HR department.  Certainly there are none in the advertising business and, I am willing to bet that there are few, if any, in all of marketing. The technology is too new and has simply not been that successful or necessary.

In fact, a quick Google scan of the use of QR reveals that there is considerable controversy about its success.  At the least, QR has not achieved its promise.

I suppose that QR codes on a résumé may communicate that a candidate is digitally proficient and advanced, but beyond that, because they have no real application, they are useless; they may actually work against the candidate since they are impractical and don't connect to anything useful.

QR codes on résumés is pure vanity and, at least at this time, serve no real purpose.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Five Things To Help Get A Job When You Are Not What The Company Is Looking For

What do you do when you have an interview for a job you are able to do, but do not have specific experience?  Maybe a friend got you an interview or it is with someone you know.  I have written numerous times about the bugaboo of category experience.  It is the bane of every advertising and marketing person.  Too many companies demand that new hires have exactly similar experience, which is why so many really good people get stuck in one category.

I have recruited for all categories of advertising and marketing people.  Some of the smartest, most strategic people come out of single categories – tobacco, pharma, automotive, alcoholic beverages, tech, to name a few – and they have a devil of a time transferring their excellent skills into other categories.  The irony is that many of these people are not only qualified by their previous experience, but may be far better marketing and advertising people than others who already have the category experience.

So what do you do if you have an opportunity to get an interview in another category where you have no experience?

Here are several ideas.

You must make connections  
It is imperative that you do your homework.  Telling an interviewer that you would like the job and that you can do it is not enough. It is essential to understand the similarities and differences between what you have done and what you might do. You must communicate and show that understanding. 

You must demonstrate that you can do the job
Once you have explained your understanding of the company’s needs, you must be able to show them that you can do the job.  Giving case histories and explaining how you solved problems and issues which are similar will go a long way.  A good example is a recent new business candidate who made a PowerPoint presentation about himself that demonstrated his ability to sell in a category he had never sold in before. It got him the job against competition who came out of the category.

You must show enthusiasm for the job and the category
Your attitude should be infectious.  You cannot sell yourself by droning on and on.  You have to show genuine interest – even in a preliminary interview with human resources.  HR people generally look for the people they are told to find.  You have to give them the ammunition and strength to go to the hiring manager and tell them to see you.  I can think of one pharma person who was up for a job handling a major brand of liquor.  He spent a weekend doing store checks and made cogent observations about the brand and the category. He presented his findings to the HR manager and did well enough that she tot him a second interview with the hiring manager.  It was clear he wanted and could do the job.

You must communicate your uniqueness and your ability to differentiate yourself
If you can show how what you have done in the past is relevant to this potential new job and you can give examples of what creativity you can bring to the party, you will go a long way towards getting the job.

You must provide the hiring manager with the comfort to tell his client about you
Unfortunately, FOC (Fear Of Client) drives many people.  You must give the people you are talking to enough ammunition to have the confidence to tell their client (or manager) about you.  One thing which works successfully is to ask what you can do that would demonstrate your ability to do the job.  Perhaps it is a continuation and expansion of the initial research you did (store check, perhaps).

Before being passed on to others in the interviewing chain, you should ask if you should adjust your resume.
I can’t promise that if you do these things it will actually get you a job, but if you do them and do them well, it will definitely put you into their consideration set.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In Defense Of Companies That Don’t Respond To On-Line Résumé Submissions

I have a confession.  Occasionally, I post jobs on one of the job boards, almost always anonymously and always very specifically describing the background we are looking for.  I am shocked at the responses we get.  Most are totally irrelevant.  

When we do a listing and say people must have recent advertising agency experience, 90% of the résumés received have zero agency background; another 9% might have worked at an ad agency back in the early 1990’s.  Our listings always post the salary, yet when the résumés we receive have some  relevancy, most will be too senior or too junior.

I have written before about people who are too senior stepping back to take a more junior job.  Generally, these people are desperately out of work.  Stepping back rarely happens because most of the time the person applying for the job is more senior than the person they will be reporting to.
A few weeks ago, someone came to see me who had a great advertising background. In the course of her conversation with me, she complained that she applied for several jobs listed on the job boards and received absolutely no responses.  She was very angry about the rudeness of companies.  I went back and looked in my files.  She had actually applied for one of my few listings about five months prior, but there was nothing in her background that had anything to do with what I was looking for at the time, so I had not responded.

And why should anyone respond to an irrelevant submission?  We all know that the candidate simply presses "submit" on their computer and hopes for the best.  When a company gets hundreds of responses, a polite auto-response, "we have received your submission and if your background is appropriate, we will get back to you" might be in order, but failing that, responding individually takes valuable time.  In addition, it is disruptive to work flow and takes time to answer each person who sends a resume; especially if the resume is irrelevant.  

Unfortunately, screening résumés is a job given to the most junior person in the human resources department.  It is difficult for them to make connections to determine the relevancy of the responses, so they are only able to put exact square pegs into exact square holes.  If someone is looking for a summer intern and the job listing asks for specific experience, it is difficult for the résumé-screener to determine the relevancy of experience at companies they may not know.  (I always advise people I meet who are working at a company that may not be familiar to put a descriptor after the company name on their résumé.)

Now, in fairness, some companies do job board listings that are so generic that they invite a huge response.  I can only assume that in those cases the screener knows what he or she is looking for. On the other hand, job descriptions on the job boards are perfunctory at best;  and just because the listing asks for specific background doesn't mean the candidate actually has what the company is looking for.  I remember once looking for someone who worked in advertising who had soft drink experience.  I received a response from a sales person who had worked for one of the major beverage companies, but had no ad agency experience.  He must have sent me three or four follow-ups and was very angry at my lack of response.

However, when applying on line, I understand that the people who submit resumes are playing the odds and hoping that there is always a chance that it might result in an interview. It is easy to press “send” whether one’s background is appropriate or not.  But when one does that, they have to know that the chances are slim that there will be a response. 

That said, there is absolutely no reason to be angry at the lack of response.
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