Star Quality & How to Shine in Job Applications

This Q&A Wednesday falls on what would have been Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday. Arguably the most charismatic actor to grace the screen this landmark anniversary got Angel HQ thinking about personality.

Indeed it’s top of the HR agenda. In May language solutions provider Education First (EF) spoke at LinkedIn’s ConnectIn event about their focus on personality and values over CVs when recruiting.

What’s more the EF president said that 90% of the company’s hiring mistakes occurred when they veered from this practice. Wow!

So, with personality becoming ever more important when applying for a job, how can you put yourself out there without looking ‘out there’?

We asked our specialist consultants what they thought.

1. Photographer Cecil Beaton said Marilyn was like a “bouquet of fireworks”, but we how can we express our personalities on an online application?

Your personal interests can set you apart from the competition and give prospective employers a great insight into your personality. Tweet: Your personal interests can set you apart from the competition. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK http://goo.gl/4IO1X3
That means anything from that blog you write, to that voluntary role, to your book club membership can paint a personality picture.

If you’re in a football team, for example, it suggests you’re probably sociable, team-friendly, motivated and fit.

With that in mind, make the most of your hobbies, don’t just list, ‘reading’ and ‘watching films’ as interests, get more specific and even use examples to demonstrate expertise or skills.

2. Are there some hobbies or interests we shouldn’t share?

Obviously, there may be some interests you want to keep to yourself, but in principle consider what the recruiter is looking for and then tailor your response accordingly.

Emphasise the interests and hobbies that will resonate most with the company you’re applying to.Tweet: Emphasise the interests and hobbies that will resonate most with the company you’re applying to #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK http://goo.gl/4IO1X3
If the culture is one of shared yoga sessions and meditation spaces you might not want to boast about your cage fighting prowess, for example. Concentrate on more sympathetic interests.

But, never be tempted to misrepresent yourself on a job application and say you’re a hot yoga fanatic just to fit in.Tweet: Never be tempted to misrepresent yourself on a job application and say something just to fit in #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK http://goo.gl/4IO1X3

3. You mean saying you’re a hot yoga fanatic just to fit in is bad?

Well, it’s wrong on various levels. First, lying on your CV or application is a no no.

Second, if you’ve discovered a company’s culture is at odds with who you are, the chances are neither of you will be happy once you’re there and living it day to day.

Remember the Devil Wears Prada? Anne Hathaway’s non-fashion-loving character found it hard to take the seemingly ridiculous demands of working for Runway magazine seriously because her heart wasn’t in it – although of course she learned a lot about herself in the end, Hollywood style!

Remember: it’s not wrong to not be the ‘fit’ a company is looking for – it works both ways.Tweet: Remember: it’s not wrong to not be the ‘fit’ a company is looking for – it works both ways. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK http://goo.gl/4IO1X3

4. With that in mind, should we show our personal style in applications?

How you present a CV or application will depend on the sector and business culture.

While some recruiters want a black and white application, without any flourishes, others will be into infographics which illustrate details in an interesting way.

Again, how you present your details depends very much on the recruiter’s brand. If they’re using infographics on their website, for example, they’ll be more likely to respond positively.

5. Some say video can be a great way to stand out. What do you think?

A video can create a connection before you meet a recruiter – something which will definitely set you apart from the masses of generic applications.Tweet: A video can create a connection before you meet a recruiter. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK goo.gl/4IO1X3
You can use video in many ways from a kind of ‘about me’ introduction on your social media sites to YouTube thought-leadership pieces.

6. So social media can enhance applications?

If you’re short-listed for a role you’ll more than likely be Googled. That means your social media sites must be top notch.Tweet: That means your social media sites must be top notch. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK goo.gl/4IO1X3
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, for starters.

And, use this as an opportunity to further enhance your application by writing a compelling headline and a summary which reflects your personality as well as your professional qualities.

7. What about during the interview?

Right. Personality-based interview questions are often asked to give recruiters an insight into how you think and work.

Examples of personality-based questions could include:

What are your hobbies?
What is your favourite TV show and why?
What is your proudest non-career achievement?
Who do you admire?

The key is to give an answer which showcases your personality in some way.

So avoid this:

Interviewer: “What’s your biggest weakness?”
You: “I’m a perfectionist”

Everyone says that!

8. So how should I set myself apart?

Set yourself apart by planning potential answers.

Think of yourself as a product. What are your USPs (unique selling points)? Why would this person pick your product off the shelf? How do you fit their needs?Tweet: Think of yourself as a product. What are your USPs? How do you fit their needs? #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK goo.gl/4IO1X3
Make a list of qualities you want to be remembered for and use these words in the application and in the interview itself.

And, clarify your answers, especially if you get asked the ‘weakness’ question.

For example:

“I get really nervous speaking in front of other people. Usually this isn’t a problem, but sometimes I’ve kept quiet in meetings and not shared my insights. However, I realised this can affect my work, so I’ve been learning to speak up which has improved my performance and resulted in improved productivity for my department overall.”

This shows you’re able to recognise issues in yourself and work to address them. No-one is perfect, it’s just being able to showcase your flaws and qualities in a considered way.

9. What about after the interview?

If you don’t follow up interviews with a ‘thank you’ or ‘great to meet you’ email then you’re missing a trick – it helps cement you in the recruiter’s mind.Tweet: Follow up interviews with a ‘thank you’ email – it helps cement you in the recruiter’s mind. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK goo.gl/4IO1X3
And, some suggest sending a follow up video for optimum impact and personality enhancement!

10. Any last thoughts?

Personality and professionalism aren’t mutually exclusive, together they can make you an extremely desirable hire.Tweet: Personality & professionalism aren’t mutually exclusive, together they can make you a desirable hire. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK goo.gl/4IO1X3
Now over to you:

Have any thoughts on what you’ve read? How do you showcase your personality in your job applications and on social media? Got any burning questions we could put to future Q & Angel guests? As ever, we want to hear what you’ve got to say!

Some next steps:

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