How to Get a Job Using a Company's ORM

Put a company's online brand management to work for you when you apply for an opening.

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Lee Odden of TopRank Online Marketing is an expert in advising companies on how to manage their online reputation (ORM: online reputation management).

He advises companies to monitor, optimize and engage about their brands, products, company and key executives. You can find out more about this topic here.

As far as the online reputation management discussion goes, you know much of it by know: Be careful what you say and send to others because "it" will always be "out there." Younger job seekers have been warned about their online reputation, how companies are Googling them, and sometimes withdrawing job offers.

Let me offer up a slight twist: If you are a job seeker, you can use a company’s ORM to your advantage. Here's how:

First, some givens. Resumes are undervalued by hiring managers, which is why each one gets about 30 seconds of time.

Next, companies make hiring decisions based on two things: Will this person help me solve some of the problems we have around here? And, is he or she likeable enough? You might be able to elaborate on these two things, but generally, it’s those two things.

It’s not just me saying this, one of the best headhunters in North America, Nick Corcodilos has been saying the same thing for years. Yet, when I advise job seekers to find a problem that their "target" company is having and work on solving it, they get all glassy-eyed on me.

Generally, these glassy-eyed job seekers have three questions:

1. How do I know now what problems they have?

2. What do I know about fixing a problem?

3. What if I am wrong?

Using Lee’s methods to monitor a company, (i.e. Setting up Google and Yahoo alerts, RSS feeds and social media via tags) you can discover all sorts of problems or issues. Some of what you will find are simply rants by unruly customers, but others will give you a very clear picture of the topics that people inside the company SHOULD be discussing and working on.

Then, just like you were working on a term paper, study the issue and figure out what you would do to help the company fix it. (Note: if you just want to send your resume out to 100 companies each day, and hope you get a job, keep doing that. How’s that been working for you so far?)

Then in your cover letter, briefly summarize your solution to the issue, being as specific as you can be.

Here’s the final little secret: Most hiring managers will not care if your solution is off the mark. The fact that you were thinking for them, even as an applicant, will move your resume to the top of heap.

G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, and his blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com or at JobDig.com.

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