Career Tip #7: Connect to a Visible Brand


Sometimes it’s helpful to have something recognizable on your resume.

My first interview with Dell in early ‘99 was for managing Dell’s Small Business site. I was a finalist with someone who had no online experience. But, she had worked at Coca Cola and Deloitte. So, the small business division ended up choosing her. Fortunately, they liked me enough to refer me to the Consumer division for a peer position. I was hired and  enjoyed a prosperous career at Dell. What happened to her? Well, long story short, she didn’t receive her two year appreciation certificate.

Did you go to a well-known school, work for a well known company, work on a visible project, or work for a well-respected person? If so, you have an advantage.

This is a tip that goes under the “do as I say, not as I do” category. Prior to Dell I helped launch and grow three startups you probably n ever heard of (User Group Connection,, Telepost). I appreciate what I learned from these companies, but the names didn’t help open doors. I’ve seen less talented people get through the door because of the brands listed on their resume. As unfortunate as that is, it’s an obvious advantage considered for a job or promotion. 

4 Responses

  1. Pete says:

    For the record, I have heard of ThirdAge and believe it was a concept before its time.
    I’d like to offer you a corollary, 7.1 perhaps. Big brands may offer training, but no guarantee that the outcome is a well-qualified individual. I think there’s something to be said for “corporate congruence.” That applies to culture, size, region, timing, maybe some other factors…

  2. Sam Decker says:

    Very good point Peter. I’m not claiming large corporations with good brand names output stars. However, to the quick read (or the myopsy of an HR department) I’m asserting that you have an advantage of being ‘perceived’ as a star if the company is a star. Smart hiring manager should know better…but then again, there are only so many smart hiring managers!

  3. I also agree with the rule, but I bridle at the explanation.
    I did my time at Accenture, and I went to a great school, and both were very helpful in getting interviews.
    But I believe that everyone (especially innovators) should do a few years at a brand company for two reasons:
    1. You will find out whether you are someone who can work for a big company or someone who can’t
    2. You will understand the deep frustration of policies and procedures as well as respect their necessity.
    I see too many interviewees that have no experience at a lumbering company and it is like they are half-cooked. Learn you are not the center of the universe and you will be better at becoming a master of the universe.

  4. Sam Decker says:

    Matt…I love the point that by working for a large company you learn the lumbering procedures. Inevitably you will work inside or outside those procedures…as small companies want the business of big companies. So that’s invaluable experience.
    My point in this article is less about experience and learning, but more about perceived experience and opening up doors. Reality is “Accenture” gets more attention from a resume than “Roche Consulting”. Although, if there was a Roche Consulting and I were in the market for a consultant, I can tell you Accenture wouldn’t be getting my business!

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