What Potential Employers Want to Know Most Is Not On Your Resume
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Evan Varsamis, the CEO of Gadget Flow, a platform that helps people discover, save and buy awesome products. Varsamis is a 25-year-old entrepreneur with a big vision for humanizing that process. Every product on the Gadget Flow site is personally curated and customized, and Varsamis pushes that value into the company’s branding and social media as well.
“We have a specific person dedicated to Twitter, one for Instagram, one for Pinterest,” he told me. “Ecommerce is so noisy and crowded so we try to stand out by bringing humanity back into a world of automation.”
With so many choices in the marketplace, consumers are increasingly drawn to exceptional value, trustworthy brands and incredible experiences. But exceptional companies don’t make themselves -- they require exceptional employees.
And the classic way of sorting prospective workers -- via resumes -- makes it extraordinarily difficult for companies to find those standouts. It also makes it difficult for the standouts to find the amazing companies that value them most.
The result is a hiring system that rewards mediocrity. On paper, the clock-in-clock-out type looks as good as the standout. The two employees may have the same experience, the same job title and perhaps the same job responsibilities. The resume hides the passion you bring to your job, the creativity you bring to problems, your can-do attitude and your ability to execute under pressure.
Resumes are great at one thing -- framing you as a replaceable cog in the machine.
The shift away from resumes.
As companies strive to stand out, they look for better ways to find those exceptional employees -- the indispensable workers that marketing guru Seth Godin calls “linchpins.”
One of the easiest ways to do that? Google search.
Already, 75 percent of HR departments are required to search job applicants online and 70 percent of them have rejected candidates based on something they found.
Simply put, the resume -- and even the cover letter -- are no longer enough. Companies are looking for more information and actually making hiring decisions based on that additional information.
At Gadget Flow, human interaction is everything. So when they look to hire, they research the applicant online to see how active they are on social media and how great they are at interacting with their audience. "Being able to hire passionate people who are active on Snapchat or Instagram or Twitter is a huge advantage," Varsamis said. "It’s better than spending thousands on marketing; those employees become our biggest brand advocates.”
At BrandYourself (where I work) we also research our applicants to see what kind of presence they maintain online. The nature of our work is to help people look great online, so what better way to gauge applicants than by checking out their own digital footprints?
It all comes back to providing exceptional value. You can’t break through the noise with employees that just follow the rules and do the bare minimum day in and day out. Those kinds of employees are easy to replace but not great at innovating, solving problems and taking a company to the next level.
Breaking through the noise.
Startups and big businesses everywhere are already showing interest in providing exceptional value. So how can you meet them halfway? As a linchpin applicant, how can you break through the noise? How can you make your value known to the companies that care?
If you can get a few extraordinary letters of recommendation from people your employer knows or respects, that goes a long way. So does an impressive project that employers can see or touch.
But those aren’t always possible. One way that’s completely within your control is building up a stellar online reputation.
Companies are already looking you up online. You spend hours perfecting your resume only to forget the very next place employers look -- the internet. Why not spend some time actually differentiating yourself online and crafting a killer personal brand?
When employers do a quick search, imagine how much you’ll stand out when they find your huge following on social media. Imagine how impressed employers will be when they see an active blog that’s so compelling and insightful that they feel obliged to follow up. Imagine how valuable you’ll be when they find you’re a published author on big-time publications.
At the end of the day, a company’s employees can be its most important asset or its biggest liability. Resumes help organizations usher in an endless parade of average employees. This is bad for the company, bad for business and bad for consumers.
If you’re a linchpin, don’t let yourself be defined by a resume. Take the hiring process to the next level and prove your worth. Get your employers -- and clients -- excited about the value you provide.Is any employee truly irreplaceable? Probably not. But if you can demonstrate that you’re so valuable, so risky to lose, so difficult to replace, you can get pretty darn close.
Ryan Erskine is a Brand Strategist at BrandYourself and a leading expert in personal branding and online reputation management. He empowers individuals and businesses to develop their personal and corporate brands, take control of their search results, and position themselves as thought leaders in their industries. He's completely rebranded online images for everyone from c-suite executives and entrepreneurs to middle market professionals and college graduates.