When you apply to a job through a job board, how does it affect your personal brand?

Do you think that applying through a job board makes you look like a superior candidate?

Most candidates don’t think that it makes a difference how they apply for a job – because hiring managers hire the most qualified candidates, right? If that’s what you think, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

It didn’t use to matter, when there were candidate shortages. Employers were so starved for candidates who had minimum skills that it didn’t matter how you applied for the job. That changed in 2007 when skilled candidate shortages turned into job shortages … and it still applies today.

Today it definitely makes a difference how you apply for a job, because how you apply affects your personal brand.

7 ways a job board application affects your personal brand:

  1. You brand yourself as poorly connected: If you were connected, you would have gone through your connections to get introduced to the hiring manager. When applying through a job board, you give the first impression that you don’t know anyone in the company and that you have few (or no) industry connections. Recruiters, HR reps and hiring managers don’t view job board applications as their first choices for many reasons, including that the company isn’t your first choice – if it was your first choice, you would have invested the time to build company and industry relationships, creating necessary introductions to the hiring manager.
  2. You brand yourself as timid: Some employees create their own opportunities and build their own doors. When you apply through a job board, rather than building your own doors, you’re waiting for one to appear. Employers looking for a can-do, self-starting candidate rarely find those attributes through job boards.
  3. You don’t brand yourself as a creative problem solver: As a job seeker, the first problem you’re trying to solve is getting through HR and getting the hiring manager’s attention. Applying through job boards isn’t a creative way to solve this problem. Since nearly everyone tries to solve it, you make it tough to stand out by using the same approach. Instead, by networking your way to the hiring manager, you give the impression that you can think out of the box to find creative solutions.
  4. You brand yourself as unexcited about that specific opportunity: Recruiters, HR reps and hiring managers expect that the candidates who are really excited about the opportunity offered will find a way to get themselves introduced to the hiring manager. It takes effort to network your way to a hiring manager, only those candidates who are truly excited about the opportunity take the time to build (or find existing) connections to the hiring manager.
  5. You brand yourself as passive, not active: When you apply through job boards, you approach reaching a hiring manager in a passive way. Because job board applications are passive, by design. Think about it – when you apply through a job board, you send in your resume … and then wait. This is one reason why few hiring managers, recruiters or HR reps appreciate it when you’ve applied via job board (passive) and then try to follow up via phone/email (active).
  6. You brand yourself as a follower, not a leader: When you apply through a job board, the entire process is following instructions … even though you know the instructions are dysfunctional and inefficient for everyone involved. So you look like someone who can follow instructions, rather than someone who will take charge and improve inefficient processes.
  7. You brand yourself as a plan B candidate, at best: Plan A candidates are applicants the hiring manager already knows: Internal transfers, past employees and people who have networked their way to the hiring manager. The hiring manager bases the job requirements on plan A candidates. Hiring managers choose job board candidates when their budgets are too low to snag their plan A candidates, when they can’t convince plan A to leave their old jobs, when they can’t arrange an internal transfer, or the plan A candidate doesn’t pass background screening. Then they look at candidates from job boards or who applied through the company’s website … plan B.

You can make the best impression, or just an average impression … it’s your choice.

So now that you can see how your application method brands you … will you choose to be an A candidate? Or the candidate considered when plan A doesn’t work – second choice.


Phil Rosenberg is President of http://www.reCareered.com, a leading job search information website and gives complimentary job search webinars at http://ResumeWebinar.com. Phil also runs the Career Central group, one of Linkedin’s largest groups for job seekers and has built one of the 20 largest personal networks on Linkedin globally.