Madeline Mann is an HR & recruiting leader who has built an audience of over half a million people and is known for her award-winning job search YouTube Channel, Self Made Millennial. Her career content has led to thousands of success stories, and her work has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, Harvard Business Review, New York Times, and more. She previously led Talent Development at Inspire, an LA-based clean energy company, as well as worked in HR at Scopely and Gem.
Here are some questions we will be answering:
– What does the recruitment process look like on a recruiter’s side?
– Why do certain candidates stand out and why do others blend in?
– Why do some recruiters ghost candidates and what do we not know about what happens behind the scenes?
– How do you balance applying to roles and scheduling informational interviews?
– How can candidates best prepare for interview questions?
– How to master LinkedIn and beat the algorithm when posting content?
– How to build a personal brand?
Connect with Madeline: www.linkedin.com/in/madelinemann/
Check out Madeline’s website: www.madelinemann.com/
Follow our Host, AJ Eckstein, on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-aj-eckstein/
Get 1-on-1 Career Coaching: www.careercoachingcompany.com/
*Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this podcast are of the host and guest and not of their employers.
“If you notice something is easy, that means it’s easy for everyone else and therefore it is way harder to stand out.” – Madeline Mann
Welcome to the Final Round podcast, where our mission is to help you knock out the competition and land your dream job. My name is A.J. Eckstein, and I’m a recent college graduate, a strategy consultant, a five-time intern, and the founder of the Career Coaching Company. I have a passion for helping people achieve their career goals through non-traditional career advice.
Have you ever wondered why only a few people get past the final round interview and land the job offer? Join me in the ring as I speak with recruiters at top companies to learn the secrets why certain applicants get “knocked-out” and others are still standing after the final round.
The Final Round podcast is brought to you by Career Coaching Company. They offer one-on-one live tailored coaching from recent grads who work at leading companies across multiple industries like consulting, investment banking and much more. Now, let’s jump into the ring and get you past the final round.
Our guest today is Madeline Mann, an HR and recruiting leader who has built an audience of over half a million people and is known for her award-winning job search YouTube channel, Self Made Millennial. Her career content has led to thousands of success stories and her work has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, Harvard Business Review, New York Times and more. Now, let’s welcome, Madelyn Mann.
Madeline: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Of course! And I thought a great place to start would be with your background. I saw that you actually started as a singer/songwriter then moved to be an HR leader then a recruiting leader then an entrepreneur and now you are a career youtuber. So, we’d love it if you could talk about that journey and maybe why you chose to dedicate so much of your time to posting really helpful career content.
Madeline: Yeah! So, I was in college and I was totally lost. I thought I was going to be a journalist until I started doing some research into what it takes to be a journalist, living deadline-to-deadline, looking at the number of jobs that were opening up for the career that were dwindling and all that, and I thought, ‘Oh, dang! Okay. This isn’t really aligning with my values.’ So, I started studying Psychology, but again, I was like ‘What does someone do with a Psychology Degree? That’s so broad.’
So, I met with dozens and dozens of people of all different professions, human capital consultants, school psychologists, therapists, human resources professionals, market researchers, all these different roles and I ended up landing in human resources that being something that really aligned with all of my values. I went to the tech industry and I ended up becoming the head of an HR department at a growing tech company and seeing all the behind-the-scenes conversations that were happening of who was getting hired, who was getting promoted, why did certain people stand out when others fell to the bottom of the pile? I really kind of took my psychology background and analyzed every single situation, took really meticulous notes and really studied what were those triggers that led to incredible results even if someone was under qualified or not the perfect fit or whatnot. And I thought I have to help people.
So, I just thought, ‘Let’s do a YouTube channel. Let’s put this out into the world.’ And so, my intention was always just to have this as a hobby, but it ended up getting so much bigger than I could have ever imagined. And so, now it’s a full-blown business. We’re helping thousands and thousands of jobseekers every week; every month and it’s just been an absolute pleasure.
Accepted vs. Rejected Candidates
Well, that’s such an incredible journey. I think the one thing that has been common with all of the guests we’ve had on the show, all of them being recruiters or leaders and talent acquisition is they don’t go into college thinking that I just want to work in HR, I want to work in recruiting. It’s something that you kind of fall into with that passion to help people. I remember one of the guests that we had from the Boston Consulting Group, he was actually moving boxes as a contract role and then got an opportunity to dive into recruiting.
Everything that you mentioned about really wanting to empower others with their careers are so remarkable and I’ve watched and I’ve been consuming your career content and it truly is game changing. You said that throughout your journey in HR and talent acquisition, you started to notice some triggers or some reasons why people get offers and other people get rejected. Can you share what those items are?
Madeline: Well, I would say I’ve welded them to 15 competence triggers. There’s not enough time to get through all of them, but maybe I’ll give you one. So, I would say that one of the most important things is someone who really knows what they want. So, when a candidate understands exactly what their next step is going to be, why this company is the right next move and also, they really understand exactly what this role presents and how they can address it, those things really make a big difference because what so many people do is they do what I call hitchhiking through their career. They aren’t sure exactly what they want their next step to be, but they just know it’s not what they’re doing now. And so, they apply to so many different jobs and they’re essentially sticking out their thumb and saying, “Okay.
Whichever company drives by and picks me up, that is going to be where I go next.” That’s why I call it hitchhiking because you’re not really in control of your journey. What a huge competence trigger is to companies is when you walk into the room, you know what you want, you know why you want it and companies then actually start to sell you on the opportunity when they detect that in you.
As good as that sounds, I think there are a lot of candidates who are just lost with their career search. What are some ways in which you can start to refine what are those professional interests and what would you do if you have multiple career interests?
Madeline: I think you do exactly what I did, which is you take the time to understand what are your strengths, what are your values and what is the market demand? And you then go talk to people in all different careers that fit those criteria. You might not know if that career fits that criteria until you actually talk to people. I think one thing that I noticed all the time with job seekers is they’ll say, “Oh, okay.” What career path do you want to go? “Oh, I’m going to move into this career path.” And I asked them, “Okay. How many people in that path have you talked to before making that decision?”
And the most common answer I hear is zero. To make a move in any career path without having extensive conversations is so reckless in your career. We want to be sure footed. And while we don’t know exactly how it’s going to be until we take a role, you actually can understand what that role is going to be like, as long as you are clear on your strengths, values and the market demand and then you’re taking the time to really get to know people in those career paths to see if there’s alignment.
What is it like on a Recruiter’s Side?
And I love the analogy of not trying to hitchhike for companies and just wait for a company to drive by and maybe they select you, maybe they don’t, but actually maybe find that bus station or call that specific Uber to find the job that you actually want, have the roles actually reverse and then they want you versus you trying to go for them.
So, I think that analogy, those points are so great and really trying to not only figure out what you want to do, but don’t just take it for yourself, but actually speak to people in the industry, right? Set up coffee chats, set informational calls and learn what it is that they actually do day-to-day and that’s what you do through coffee chats. I want to dive deeper into the behind the scenes of recruiting. I remember that when I was a candidate seeking an internship or a job, I just felt like you obviously know what recruiters do at a high level, but you don’t know what happens on the backend. So, what would you say in terms of job applications, interviews and offers, what is it like on a recruiter’s side?
Madeline: One thing that is so important to know is that a recruiter’s goal is to make sure that the hire happens, it’s a high-quality hire and then it happens in as expedient of a timeline as possible without sacrificing quality. And so, a lot of job seekers will complain about recruiters of, “Oh, they don’t get back to me or oh, they keep rejecting me,” what not. Actually, the recruiters, it’s in their best interest to accept your application to push you through to hype you up to these hiring managers.
Recruiters are often trying to work with hiring managers, the ones who are bringing on this role to help them understand, “Okay. Your ideas of the job market, you’re asking for 20 different things. No human has all 20 of those capabilities.” Really helping them to understand the market, helping people to get through the pipeline. And oftentimes when recruiters don’t respond, it’s because they haven’t gotten an answer from the person who’s actually the decision maker. So, I think there’s a big misconception thinking that the recruiters are the decision makers when really, they are the ones who are the catalyst pushing the process along, getting both hire managers and candidates excited. And their goal is yes, we want to make a match, we want you to be at our company.
So, I think that that’s an important mentality because once you know that as a job seeker, you realize, “Okay. First of all, I need to stop trying to get in front of so many recruiters. I should start getting in front of hiring managers.” And second of all you realize that if you build a relationship with the recruiter, that that is the mutually beneficial relationship, like they’re rooting for you, that they’re not necessarily against you.
And I think you discussed the theme of recruiters being your friends. I remember a recruiter we had from Google, she said that so many people think that recruiters are against you, they’re not on your side and if they ask you a question, you can’t be honest with them. Would you agree that recruiters, their best interest aligns with those candidates trying to get those roles?
Madeline: Absolutely! They turn around after they talk to you and they try to sell you to the hiring panel. Ultimately, they are not the decision makers. So, you also need to be making connections within the company. Their goal is to fill the role as quickly as possible while still maintaining quality. So, it’s not good for them to just reject you or cut out all these candidates. They try to make it a wider pool, whereas typically the hiring manager will make the pool more narrow. They’ll have very strict criteria. Often because they’re not touching the job market as tangibly where the recruiter will know, “Hey, I can see these transferable skills. I can see that this role is difficult to find. So, I am going to open the pool a bit more and except maybe some more diversely talented people.” So, I really think that it is a partnership
And you said that a lot of candidates spend too much time trying to reach out to the recruiter when in reality they should spend a lot of time also trying to speak to the hiring managers or the people on the team that you’re applying to. What would you say is a good balance? Do you think that you have to speak to a recruiter of the marketing team before you speak to the hiring manager or is it something that it’s not necessary? How do you balance the recruiter versus the hiring manager with coffee chats and informational calls?
Madeline: I would skip recruiters all together. I think you should go straight to the decision makers or people who are influential on the team. And of course, if you have an in with the recruiter because you know them or you met them or you have something in common, that’s great. But I just think that they get the highest volume of messages. They’re not the ultimate decision maker. So, you want to kind of skip over those barriers and go towards people who will be your teammates and also who will potentially even earn a referral bonus if you get hired. So, they’re also incentivized in other ways.
You mentioned a referral bonus. And I know for some companies they have this and that employees of the company can refer people outside of the company. And if that person gets hired, there’s an actual bonus that you get for helping with recruiting efforts. Is that a common practice across most companies?
Madeline: I think it depends on the industry. I come from the technology industry and it’s extremely common. Typically, thousands of dollars that these folks will get if you refer someone. So, it is a lucrative practice for those employees. So, you’re doing them a helpful favor to really get to know them and put your hat in the ring and allow them to refer to you.
And that’s so great to hear it because I think a lot of people believe that when I’m reaching out to people like hiring managers or let’s say past interns or people who are analysts, whatever it may be, I’m doing them a disservice. I’m taking time away from them. But if you truly are a good candidate and you’re able to get a referral, then they’re able to get compensated for their time. So, it’s almost you doing them a favor and having that mentality that it’s okay to reach out to people and ask for a few minutes of their time.
Madeline: Exactly! And it’s all about making it feel good for that person too. I get so many messages where it says, “Hello! Get me a job. Here’s my resume. Please refer me,” and that won’t get you a referral. But if you notice people and you notice their backgrounds and what makes them interesting and you get to know them as people, that is when this gets fun and they’re happy to refer to you.
And you said that if you have an in with the recruiter, speak to them, but if not skip the recruiter and go straight to the decision maker or the hiring manager. How do you find the decision maker for the role that you’re applying to because a lot of times they’re not listed on the job application?
Madeline: Right. And it’s a guessing game for sure. What you want to do is look at things like obviously the company name, the location and the department that this role is under. Then you search on LinkedIn. When you go to the company page of a company on LinkedIn, it says like, ‘Click See All of Their Employees,’ or whatnot. And you can typically search within there the title of the department or similar titles that you think would be the boss of the role you’re interviewing for. Once you find that it is a guessing game, but it’s a game that you don’t really have any risk of losing.
So, let’s say I accidentally reached out to the boss’s boss and not who my boss would be. Well, fantastic. That person can be my into the company, that person can introduce me to the hiring manager, that person probably is really interested in me in this role joining the team. Even if they’re not the direct hiring manager, they’re likely very invested in growing the team. So, I really think that you just need to take some context clues and then go for it.
Balancing Your Time when Recruiting
Going for it, reaching out to people, but not just doing a blind outreach, but to actually go through LinkedIn’s advanced filtering tools and trying to find people in that department and not just anyone in the marketing department, but go super specific if you can to what that marketing role is and try to guess and then have that in guide you to the right person. What would you say to someone who is unsure of how to balance their time between applying to jobs and then scheduling networking coffee chats?
Madeline: I would say if you’re having trouble balancing the time, then stop applying to jobs and just focus on the coffee chats, because that is ultimately what is most likely to land you the job. I think people spend too much time applying online. You can absolutely land jobs that way. And I don’t think that that’s a strategy that you need to completely obliterate, but you should be measuring your progress in your job search by interactions, interactions with people, not by number of job applications.
So, there’s a much bigger importance on the networking side and the coffee chats versus just rapid fire applying, like easy apply on LinkedIn to just hundreds of roles?
Madeline: Completely. If you notice something is easy, that means it’s easy for everyone else and therefore it is way harder to stand out. So, if something starts to feel a little bit more difficult, that means you’re onto something that is going to have such a lower barrier to entry.
And I’m so happy you brought that up, because I basically live my life by saying that you should always do what other people are not doing and that’s a way to stand out. And would you say that’s the same thing in the job search and that you should do what other people aren’t doing, the things that are not that easy, the things that take more time like tailoring an email or researching a company in detail. Do those things really resonate with recruiters and hiring managers?
Madeline: Those are perfect examples. It is incredible how few people do those things if you are taking it one step above, you are now in the top 5% of candidates instantly. So few people actually make that additional effort.
And it’s amazing because it doesn’t take that much time. Of course, it does take more time than just sending a blanket email, but I have received responses where you can see that people resonate with that and I’m sure for you, people try to connect with you on LinkedIn, they probably never added a note, right? You probably have thousands of people just waiting to be accepted and you’re saying, “They didn’t put the time in, I’m not going to put the time in,” but on top of that, for the smaller group of people who add a note, it’s probably something super basic. They don’t even know who you are and just say, “Hi, Madam, I would love to connect.” Would you agree?
Madeline: Yes! I see we have multiple connections and are in the same industry. Would you like to connect? Yes, it’s the same message over and over again. And it’s amazing how even just someone writing something like, “Hey, Madeline, your YouTube channel changed my life. It’s been an incredible resource. I would love to connect.” That is so simple and I connect with that person versus the one who just said, “Hi! We have similar industries.” You know that’s a mass message.
And I would say it goes even deeper and that people reach out to me saying, “Hey, AJ! I love the Final Round podcast,” and those are great messages right there tailored. But there are people who I would say our hyper tailored that they say, “Not only do I love the Final Round podcast, but the episode with Madeline Mann and that quote about you shouldn’t be applying to jobs with your thumb up on the side of the road trying to hitchhike, like that was my favorite quote,” you know they actually listen to it and if you want to go out of your way to help that person when they ask for 10 minutes, 20 minutes for a coffee chat you’re saying of course, why don’t you ask sooner? So, I do think that it’s the little things that get noticed because they just don’t know that it’s the little things that get you past those next rounds.
Madeline: I completely agree. Exactly! And it really doesn’t take that much effort to just say something. I always say in the emails you send, especially in the job search and networking, if that sentence could be said by anyone to anyone, you need to delete it. As you know, “I have skills in time management and I am driven.” Anyone could be saying that sentence but saying like, “AJ, I can help you with your podcast because I have relationships with XYZ people and based on your previous guests of this person, this person, that person, I see these people also fitting in great on your,” like being exactly as you’re saying like being specific, being actionable and just taking that extra step to go deeper.
I want to take a quick pause and tell you about Career Coaching Company. Are you still searching for your dream internship or job but are having trouble landing an offer? Career Coaching Company offers one-on-one, live, tailored coaching from recent grads who now work at top companies like the ones you’re applying to. Be sure to check out their website at careercoachingcompany.com to see how their team of coaches can help you land your dream job. Now let’s jump back into the ring.
So, as much as I think there will be a small set of those people who are going to be the cream of the crop of candidates who will send tailored outreach messages, who will send tailored thank you emails, who will do the research for interviews. There will be a time that you will get ghosted by a recruiter. I know you posted around Halloween. I think there’s a YouTube video where there’s a little ghost that did a cameo in one of your videos and said that, “At the end of the day, it will happen that a recruiter will ghost you.” Can you talk about why that happens? Is it intentional? What don’t we know that happens behind the scenes that we should know?
Madeline: What you should know is that it’s a whole disaster behind the scenes. Companies send out a job description, it starts changing by week one of them interviewing people, it starts shifting, someone leaves the company. Now we need to add skills to this or should we hire two people or should we just hire a more senior person who would take over both roles? There are so many conversations that happen that delay this whole process. On the other side as a job seeker, you think, “Oh, it’s interviewed for this role cut and dry. They explained it to me,” but hiring is so nuanced and companies are so afraid of making a mis-hire.
Companies are optimizing to reduce risk and while job seekers are optimizing to shorten the amount of time that it takes to get a job and that they’re expanding on all these applications. And those two dynamics are opposed because risk slows things down. It makes them question things. It makes them bring more people into the conversation which then increases the amount of time. It’s completely unpleasant to be ghosted and so demoralizing. So, I completely acknowledge that. What’s happening with the recruiters is that they have all these balls up in the air. They’re trying to get answers. Often, there’s people on vacation so they can’t do the interview. The requirements are changing, the hiring manager has a product launch next week and has not been answering emails, has not been taking interviews. So, we can’t move forward in the process. All of this is to say it has almost nothing to do with you.
Following Up with Recruiters
So, if it has nothing to do with you, is it okay to still follow up? How do you balance that fine line between following up and being proactive and then following up too many times and being annoying to the recruiter and it’s a turn off to the hiring team?
Madeline: When you think about what type of person would I like to hire? Would I like to hire someone who sits on the sidelines, who waits for things to come to them, who isn’t very passionate or would I want to hire someone who is proactive, who’s making things happen, who shows their passion? Companies want to hire candidate B. One way to show that you are like candidate B is to follow up, is to be proactive, is to be that person who’s saying, “Hey, helpful reminder here, I’m still very interested in this role. Let me know if you need anything else from me.” I’ve seen incredible results. I even have these free email templates on my website where there are follow up email templates that have just landed people not only interviews, but offers because companies love to see you follow up in the right way and it really just goes to show that you are someone who prioritizes this opportunity and really wants it.
On the topic of follow ups and maybe how to follow up on a job application. I know that a ton of our listeners have either heard of LinkedIn Learning or maybe have even taken a course on LinkedIn Learning. What’s so amazing is that you actually taught your own LinkedIn Learning course and the topic is how to follow up on a job application. Can you share with us what this course is about and maybe a few key takeaways?
Madeline: This course was so fun to do. Yes, it’s all about this idea that persistence gets jobs. This course actually came out during the pandemic, which I think was the perfect timing because so many people are afraid to follow up when times are uncertain, when they worry that people might be going through something, when really this was the time to capitalize on the follow up and it’s still will. That strategy will endure over the course of time.
Basically, what the course teaches you is how to have proactive communication. So, the times when a company speaks to you like we should be also making efforts to further the conversation ourselves. I give tips on even if you’re rejected, how to get back in the game and still get in the interview and get the offer. How to follow up exactly on the job application if you haven’t heard back? How to make sure that if you’re between interviews and you feel like maybe you kind of flubbed your last interview like how to also get your redemption? It’s amazing how much happens outside of the interview that can change the game for you and actually help you land the offer.
It sounds like an amazing LinkedIn Learning course. I definitely have to check it out as well as all our listeners. I’ll put the URL in the podcast notes. On the topic of rejection, let’s say you get that rejection email. Is it true that very few people will reach out to the recruiter or hiring manager and actually ask for feedback?
Madeline: Yes, very few ask for feedback. You won’t always get feedback and I’ve learned this from my career. I used to get feedback and people really don’t take feedback well is what I’ve come to find. If you may have lasted longer in the interview process, sometimes they might give you feedback.
Let’s say you ask for your feedback and maybe they don’t respond or they say that they can’t give it to you, it’s company policy. How do you still keep that relationship strong? Maybe you got rejected from the internship but the following year, you want to apply for that full time job, how do you keep that relationship strong?
Madeline: Keep in touch with those people. Really reiterate your interest in the company and keep building those relationships. I’ve had people, I have a coaching program called Standout Job Search and one person he transferred career paths from academia to corporate training and he was such an underdog. He did not have the right experience. He did have transferable skills but he really was the underdog. He got rejected for the role he was going for and I was like really coaching him on, “Okay. Let’s keep this going. Let’s not let this be the last moment that they hear from you.” So, he continued doing informational interviews, building relationships across the company, following them on social media, understanding what was happening with the company and when that role opened up again, he already knew the hiring manager, he already knew people at the company, he was the first resume that slid across the desk. These people who were making the decisions knew who he was and he ended up landing the job. It really is incredible when you have this persistence that you can actually land these things.
And that’s such a great story and that most people if they get rejected, they think it ends there, but it’s just getting started, right? And let’s say you got to the final round interview and got rejected, they still have met you before, you’ve still interviewed with people, you’ve still spoken and connected with people at the company, so continue that relationship and maybe if the role comes up again or it went from internship to full-time job, you should always follow up. I know following up is a big theme in your LinkedIn Learning course. On the topic of interview questions, it may seem from afar, and I know I thought this when I was a candidate that interviewers asked a ton of different questions and they’re always looking for different things, but I saw that you believe that every question an interviewer asks is simply a variation of another question and you can prepare for it. So, how can candidates prepare for those interview questions?
Madeline: When you look at the questions interviewers ask and you look at the way you can answer them, there’s just so many similarities. What’s your greatest strength? What is your greatest accomplishment? Why should we hire you? All of these are basically variations of the same question. You just formulate your answer slightly differently. What you want to do is you really want to make sure that you understand the role, you understand what you bring to the company and this comes with a lot of the research you were mentioning earlier. And you want to understand the talking points that you want to get across in the interview. And once you know those, you’re going to find a way to work those talking points naturally. And so really, when you start seeing that instead of trying to answer the question really literally and you start thinking about, ‘Okay. What’s the pertinent information that I can give here?’ That is a total 180, just complete perspective change and that’s what lands people offer.
So, should you give a different answer if you’re getting the same question or the same variation of a question with different people? Can you give the same answer if it’s a different interviewer?
Madeline: I would give different answers and what I teach is having your story toolbox. So, what happens is that you don’t just have like one accomplishment. You have multiple and especially after you’ve gone through your resume and created that you’ll have multiple things to pull from. And so, it’s really all about having that toolbox to where you have this instant memory to go, Okay. I’m going to pull this story from this, this story from that and so you prioritize your stories. Some of them are going to be like your top hits that you try to work into every conversation, but others, once those stories have been said to the hiring manager, you can do others.
Building a Brand on LinkedIn
I think a story toolbox is so important. I know when I was going through the recruitment process for every single big interview question theme as in a strength, a weakness, leadership, collaboration like you said, I would have that tool box of one to three stories prioritized by the value and maybe the importance tailoring it to the company because if I’m applying to a marketing role versus a consulting role, the stories would change. So, I think for everyone out there, taking Madeline’s advice of having that story toolbox, having it ready to fire off so if they ask you what’s your biggest strength, you say leadership and then they say give me two other strengths, you should have that ready to go, not try to fumble and say I don’t have any other strengths. So, such great points there and thank you for bringing those up.
I want to shift gears for the last part here of the podcast talking about building a brand on LinkedIn. I truly think that there’s not one other person on this planet who has built a better personal brand than you, and I’m sure people have seen your tangerine emojis on LinkedIn or your orange background or just your amazing career content. I would love to know, what are some aspects of your personal brand that others can incorporate into their own personal brand?
Madeline: I would say that you really need to understand what a personal brand is. A personal brand is the way you make people feel when they interact with anything you touch. A similar way of putting it is your personality. So, what a lot of people don’t do is they don’t think about how my About section on LinkedIn is, how is that conveying who I am or making someone feel something? How is the way I’m commenting, posting, what is my objective here? What am I hoping to make people feel? For me, I really want to make people laugh, uplift them, help them feel empowered and give them the tools they need to make these career defining moves and so I integrate that into everything I do and I have a whole course on this called LinkedIn for Thought Leaders where it takes you like A to Z on exactly the different aspects of the LinkedIn platform because LinkedIn does punish and reward certain actions.
So, really understanding that as well, so that you’re amplifying your message, you’re being seen, it’s an insurance policy on your career because if you have a personal brand, you get laid off tomorrow, your business goes under, you have that foundation to stand on. When you have that personal brand, opportunities are all inbound. People find you. There are so many success stories I could go on and on about all the people in my program where they build a personal brand and they never have to job search again. They never have to look for clients again because people see you, understand what you’re about and say, “I want to work with you.”
And I think it goes back to the analogy of hitchhiking for clients or for companies versus having the cars pull into your driveway versus trying to find them. Right? So, I think the power of a personal brand really speaks for itself and I have to ask, how did you come up with tangerine tips, the tangerine emojis, the orange background.
Madeline: My favorite color is orange. I’ve always gravitated towards it. I implemented these really strategic approaches on LinkedIn. My profile started blowing up, scaling super quickly and I was getting tagged everywhere on LinkedIn. What I noticed is that my name wasn’t always tagged and like paragraphs of names and it didn’t stand out. I’m someone who is a bit of an experimental type marketer. So, I thought, “Why don’t I try to do something that would make me stand out?” So, I had never seen anyone do this before, I’m not saying I was the first one, but I truly have never seen anyone do it before.
I put emojis around my name just to see what it would look like and see if that would help people to recognize me. So, many people said, “Oh, that’s so unprofessional.” And I was like, “Yeah, it is kind of goofy, I agree. This is just an experiment.” But then it ended up weaving into the fabric of people saying, “Oh, yeah. There’s Madeline with the tangerines.” And then it was very flattering to see so many people also put emojis in their name because I thought, ‘Okay. This is confirmation that I’m not crazy. It just ended up being just kind of part of the fabric of how people recognize me.
And again, I think it goes back to doing something that people aren’t doing. I think very few people when you started that personal brand, weren’t being as creative as you are with the orange branding and the tangerine tips and getting your daily squeeze of rapid-fire career content, right? So, it all fits into your brand and how it makes people feel. I think a lot of people agree that to have a recession proofing career, you should build a personal brand and they agree that it can help with more inbound leads from clients or even companies.
But actually, building that brand and scaling is really difficult and I wanted to end with a quote from one of your past blog posts and you said that, “Success on LinkedIn doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a formula, a method to madness. When you master that algorithm in psychology, magic happens.” Can you talk about how you’ve been able to master the LinkedIn algorithm and maybe just a few rapid-fire career tips to promote your LinkedIn profile for the candidates listening to the Final Round?
Madeline: It was pretty incredible. It was about 2018 when I started posting on LinkedIn and being a little bit more thoughtful about my LinkedIn profile. I was just posting regularly every week for about a year and just experimenting on the platform. My profile was growing and I was meeting new people and it was really great. By 2019, I wasn’t just posting anymore. I had understood A to Z, ‘Okay. Here are the triggers on this platform.’ It’s a totally different platform than these other social media platforms that you see. And so, I was able to then scale my profile super quickly. I had just a few 1000 connections and I was reaching tens and even hundreds of thousands of people a week and everything changed. I’ve always only gotten inbound clients for all of my programs.
People see me, they understand, they know that this is the right move for them. And then I was getting lots of job offers. I stopped ever having to submit an application and what happens is that companies actually want to be able to find you. They take pride in finding what they call passive candidates where you’re not actually actively applying and they’re finding you on LinkedIn and they’re presenting them to the hiring manager and they seem to feel like that is a higher caliber because if someone is happy and desired at a job that likely means that they’re going to be successful at a new company. That’s a large logical leap, but that’s the way hiring managers think.
So, if you can set yourself up to have an optimized profile, to be posting on LinkedIn, you can then become that passive candidate that is submitted. And that’s really where so much of the job market right now is being handpicked for these roles. I do have a LinkedIn profile checklist as well to really help you optimize your profile. That’s on the front page of my website, madelinemann.com. So, that can really help you to make sure, ‘Okay. Am I hitting on everything? Am I being discovered?’
Such amazing tips and I really do think that you have beat the LinkedIn algorithm. For everyone listening, if you don’t follow Madeline on LinkedIn, you must follow her. She gives such actionable career insight that I’ve even been following for years now. I really do appreciate your content.
And as we wrap up the show for today, the final question that we ask all guests is what is the best piece of advice that you can give to our audience to help them get past the final round interview and land the job offer?
Madeline: For that final round interview, it really is all about understanding exactly how your skills are going to address their pain points. Nothing else. Don’t think about, ‘Well here’s why I need this role or let me tell you about my story and my history.’ No, really making sure that you’ve been asking questions throughout the entire process, understanding exactly what they need this role for and really making sure that your value proposition aligns well and they can start picturing you in the role. A lot of that happens outside of the interview room. It’s all about preparation. The war is won before the battle is even fought. You really have to prepare and then just focus on the company’s needs.
I think tailoring your value proposition to their pain points and thinking about the war is won before the battle aka the interview, such amazing points to end the show today. Madeline, it was an absolute pleasure having you on the show. We really do appreciate your time and thank you for being here.
Madeline: It’s been my absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Madeline gave us so many rapid fire career tips. It is hard to choose my favorite, but the quote that stuck out to me the most was the analogy of how most job seekers are hitchhiking through their careers. They aren’t exactly sure of what job they want so they apply to many different jobs and hope for any car or company to come pick them up. But recruiters and hiring managers want a candidate who knows what they want and why they want it.
So, be in control of your career journey. Subscribe for more episodes like this and make sure to leave a five-star review so that we can continue impacting job seekers like yourself. If you know of anyone who can benefit from this podcast, please send it their way. Until the next episode of the Final Round podcast, keep fighting and I will see you in the ring.