Avoiding Brand Burn-Out

Here’s a questions I get asked at least once a week: What’s the best way to get hired at XYZ company if they have multiple open positions that match my skills and experience?

Today the question came from a man in Colorado who’s targeting a state-level department. The department in question has multiple openings, however the positions most relevant to his skills vary quite a bit in their salaries. If he applies for several of these, he’ll unquestionably be compromising his salary negotiations. Who would opt to pay him $100K if he demonstrates a willingness to work for $50K?

The real problem is bigger than this salary issue, though. The real problem is brand burn-out.

Applying for multiple positions in the same organization used to be a viable way to get hired. But since the advent of applicant tracking systems which store one version of your submitted resumes, it’s much, much harder to weave key words into your resume for subsequent positions. Even if this is permitted, however, you still run the risk that multiple people in the company will be exposed to multiple versions of your resume, given the use of cross-functional teams for hiring purposes.

How will a hiring manager perceive you if you first apply for a lower-level role, then later apply for a much more senior role? No matter how relevant your skills, your brand will have suffered a probably fatal impact.

May I suggest a different approach? Leverage LinkedIn and offline networking to build non-HR contacts within the target organization:

  • Identify one or more hiring managers who oversee departments you would be a great match for.
  • Develop at least 1+ LinkedIn connections to each manager.
  • Query these connections to learn more about the organization and deepen your insight into their challenges.
  • Customize your cover letter and resume to match the functions of each department.
  • Prepare a brief 30-second “pitch” of your strengths.
  • Call the hiring manager(s) and deliver the pitch in a voice mail or live. Ask for permission to send your CL/resume as a follow-up.
  • Send your resume/CL.
  • Follow up every 3-4 weeks. Always be prepared to share a 30-second success story in your phone call, VM, or email. Alternate email with phone follow-up.
  • Also make sure you are “following” the department on LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, and Google+. Read any blogs/media they disseminate and comment when appropriate on whatever social media the organization is using.

This approach is more cohesive and on-brand because it enables you to consistently focus on your unique strengths and achievements. Applying online for multiple positions at the same company, on the other hand, is increasingly dangerous to your brand.

Avoid brand burn-out and the perception that you are desperate (read: unemployable) by leveraging online and offline networking to slip past gatekeepers and engage target companies in vibrant discussions about how you can help them solve the challenges they face.

Here’s to a thriving Brand You[TM]!

Cheryl