Branding Your Candidate Presentations

We can take it for granted that your firm’s stationery makes a statement about what your firm represents. It’s your brand. It serves a very important functional necessity. It tells the public and, more importantly, your clients how to get in touch with you and what to expect of you. But in the intense pace we set for ourselves, it’s easy to overlook what seems obvious to us. Little details can easily be skipped because they’re taken for granted. Minor things shouldn’t make a big difference, but those little things can and do in fact make a difference. They can spell ultimate loss no matter how many good intentions on the part of everyone. Many times that loss can be the candidate you’ve presented. Your brand should be on every piece of material you use to present your candidate. Consider it a form of viral marketing ó of the candidate and you. Let’s suppose you have a situation. Two of your clients want to fill several positions. In the past two weeks, you’ve received resumes from several pre-qualified candidates. Three are stellar for each situation and you faxed the resumes to the clients. The problem is the clients say they never received your presentations, though in fact the resumes did reach them (they’re not trying to avoid your relationship). How could this have happened? Some of the factors affecting this mystery are:

  • Each client desperately needs a recruiter because they are simply too busy to do all of the work themselves.
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  • Your paperwork is buried among the other pending matters on their respective desks.
  • Your fax cover page got separated from the rest of the presentation package.
  • You didn’t include your firm’s logo and contact information on the candidate’s materials.

Your client knows what to expect of your firm and is loyal, but they can’t tell what you sent to them compared with another recruiter if your information is not on the presentation package. For all they know, the resume reached them because the candidate made an independent submission. This definitely calls for some curatives. What to Do First of all, make certain your firm’s information is on every document that constitutes any stage of presenting your candidate. At a minimum, your firm’s logo and phone number will brand your candidate’s presentation. Whether you fax, email, or snail mail, the cover material accompanying the presentation can easily become separated. Just as with second-page stationery, there needs to be something on each piece of your presentation package that lets the client know it came from your office. As with any other materials, you want your presentations to be viral in nature. They should make the client easily come back to you. Veteran and new recruiters alike get caught up in the flurry of the recruiting dynamics and forget about this crucial part of branding. If their administrative staff is new to the recruiting industry, they perpetuate the omission of that important mark that keeps the client aware of the association between you and the candidate who’s being presented. How to Do It Part of the overall presentation package includes the fact that you are the presenter. So your brand also needs to be on the writing samples, background reports, and assessment results. Your and the candidate’s names should become synonymous to the client. There are a number of techniques that will help. The purpose of this article is not to make you a guru of the mechanics involved in placing your branding on materials. Instead, you want to glean from this some ideas about putting your brand on the materials so that your client knows who made the presentation. Here are just a few: 1. Brand your faxes. Many find the most expedient method for transmitting documents is via facsimile. It’s so easy. Just push those pages into the machine, dial up the number, and push the send button. Yes, it is nice that the fax machine puts those leader lines at the top of each page with the sender’s fax number and other information. But it’s better to rely on your letterhead for making certain that information is legible and definitely part of the page. Send the materials on your letterhead. Or make certain your fax has a half-inch strip with your firm’s contact information and your name. An alternative to cutting, pasting and photocopying is to merely do a temporary paste of the candidate’s materials to a copy of your letterhead, then fax that version to the client. This is an alternative, but it’s a bit imprecise and labor/resource intensive. The point is ensuring the client is impressed with the candidate and knows how to quickly reach you to arrange for the next step. 2. Scan documents on to letterhead. Another way to handle putting your firm’s mark on your candidate’s materials is to scan the documents onto a copy of your letterhead. You then have both the original hard copy as well as your branded version always available. One printout of the scanned version can then serve as the master presentation document. This is much faster than the imprecise cutting and pasting. It avoids the possibility of machinery getting clogged with paper jams from gumming gone awry. You then have a stored document with the right information ó and your brand ó ready for use at a moment’s notice. 3. Use online document sharing. Online document storage and sharing, or knowledge management, is a subject all to itself. Suffice it to say, its day has arrived, and you would do yourself a good turn to consider using it. If your office has such a system, you can very economically store the presentation copies in your client’s folder and then share the documents with the client, complete with the firm’s branding at the top. The beauty of this solution is that the client receives a secure package that they know is from your office. Whenever they want to access the candidate’s materials, they need to do so from their folder from your office. And while they’re reviewing the candidate’s information, your name and contact information is discreetly at the top (or bottom) of every page. The additional benefits here are that you reduce paper while maintaining an organized, easily accessible database. Your costs of storage and handling are reduced. Your image as a firm using cutting-edge tools to efficiently manage you work is increased. 4. Email it. If you don’t have an online document sharing system, it’s still possible to send the candidate’s materials to the client via email in at least two ways: (1) by copying and pasting the information into the body of an email or (2) attaching the branded documents to a cover email. The downside of copying and pasting is its labor and resource intensive nature. We’re talking about ways to impose your brand on the materials so that a positive image of efficiency, quality, and 21st-century technological knowledge are the end result. There are far more things that you and your administrative staff can be doing besides keyboarding your candidate’s materials into an email. We’re looking for ways to increase ROI and decrease labor intensive non-recruiting and placement functions. 5. Cut and paste. A final, rather archaic and imprecise ó but effective ó method of getting your branding on the package is to cut and paste the candidate’s material onto a plain sheet of paper. Then photocopy the mock-up onto your second-page letterhead. The beauty of this is that you have ready-made identity with the look and feel of your established image. The problem is this photocopying and re-photocopying can become expensive in wasted paper and photocopier ink. It’s also extremely labor intensive. There are better techniques. This one says you’re running on a start-up shoestring and may not be able to deliver in many other ways. It’s Your Identity The client can readily contact you about your candidate if your information is on every piece of their presentation materials. No matter which of the pieces the client is viewing, they know both the candidate’s information as well as who presented them and how to get in touch with the presenter. As you can see from the above suggestions, the more sophisticated your tool for presenting your candidate with your brand, the more technologically astute and efficient your firm appears. This then implies a better quality of candidate and service from you. You get remembered for the quality of your service, the content you presented, who you are, and how to reach you. You develop loyalty.

Yvonne LaRose (ylarose@recruitandretain.net) is a California-accredited consultant and freelance writer. Her column, Career and Executive Recruiting Advice, is read by professionals from all parts of six continents who rely on her advice, previous board experience, and insights on business management, recruiting, and career development issues. Former producer and host of "Legally Speaking," a bi-weekly legal news radio program, Ms. LaRose's 15 years of writing encompasses various media, including print. Her online writing appears at such places as HR.com, AIRS Directory, Workforce, ITWorld's Managing the IT Pro, and SmartPros. She has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Savoy Professional Magazine, The New York Times Job Market, and SmartPros. Yvonne helped author the e-book "The Last Job Search Guide You'll Ever Need: How to Find and Get the Job or Internship of Your Dreams." Her contributions deal with professionalism, how to handle criticism and the qualities of a good resume. For more information on her book, visit http://hop.clickbank.net/?entrances/lastguide.

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