Branding is all about telling a story. All too often, recent college graduates make the mistake of creating a brand that tells the story of “why I want this job.” A better strategy is to tell the story of why this job should want you.
Personal branding is an important component of thriving in the modern work environment. Employers now have a very easy time learning about potential new hires. Thanks to social media and search engines alone, they can form a very clear picture of you in their heads after just a few minutes of puttering around on the internet.
You want to make sure that you are presenting these people with a well-cultivated personal image. In this article, we take a look at how you can make a brand that will help you find work after college.
Choose a Theme
Resumes are, of course, designed to highlight your qualifications. However, if that is all your resume and application materials communicate, you are destined to blend in with the other people looking into the job. Of course, you are qualified! All applicants are supposed to be qualified and saying as much does nothing to set you apart.
What you need is a theme. All stories have one. The theme shouldn’t be, why you are the best data scientist, but rather, why you are the best data scientist for environmental conservation. Or, why you are the best data scientist for the furthering of civil rights.
Your brand doesn’t necessarily have to have an activism bent to it, but it should personal and true.
This is particularly important in an era where businesses are focused on highlighting their own values.
Ah, so I should create a resume that demonstrates how my values match those of potential employers.
Not quite. It’s disingenuous to create a different brand for every job application you send out. Instead, it’s better to select a value that is true to you and create a resume that highlights how you have lived that value.
Once that is done you can work on finding potential employers who are a good fit. Of course, your stated values don’t have to be a perfect match. The same ballpark should do.
It’s quite easy to want to slip into superlatives and grand statements as you work on how you present yourself to potential employers. Confidence is important. No one wants to hire someone who seems to think they can’t do the job well.
Nevertheless, there is a fine line between being confident and being annoying. Highlight your skills and accomplishments but do it in a way that allows the potential employer to make their own conclusions. Words like “best,” “greatest,” etc. have no place on a resume. Your qualifications should speak for themselves.
There are long-form opportunities for communicating your career qualifications and goals. For example, you might get a few paragraphs on a cover letter to explain yourself.
You should also develop an elevator pitch. Keep in mind that hiring managers may speak with dozens of people before they make their decision. No matter good you are, many of these applicants are going to look pretty similar to you on paper.
If you can explain why you are great in a few sentences, it’s a huge advantage. For one thing, it demonstrates a degree of competence. Good communication skills are a vital component of almost every job.
Your elevator pitch will also just be easier for the hiring manager to remember. No one has memorized Moby Dick but most people know the first lines. That’s what you need—a good hook that inspires people to look for more.
Watch What You Say
Would you talk politics or binge drinking during an interview? No. You would not. However, if you do these things on social media, it’s almost the same thing. Every hiring manager in the world now knows to look online before they make a hire.
While they are surely aware that you hold opinions and have fun, they don’t see evidence of it on your Twitter feed. Why would they when a potential client or customer could do the same and get turned off?
It’s a good idea to make your social media private. Even then, you should proceed with caution as things have a way of becoming public.
If you are feeling really ambitious, however, you may consider keeping a public profile that has been designed and carefully curated to reflect your brand.
This means no politics, no cursing. Certainly no evidence of partying. Present yourself as smart, sensible, and true to your values, and businesses might take notice.
Creativity is key to standing out. Dozens of people may apply for one job. Most of their applications will look identical. Even if the stuff you put on yours is really great, it may fall flat before a hiring manager who has seen too much of the same.
Consider trying to make your resume format as exciting as the skills contained within it. This will be particularly important for people who are hoping to enter a field that requires creativity. If you want a job in marketing, no company is going to want to hire you if they are under the impression you can’t even market yourself.
Equal Parts Humble and Talented
Finally, find a way to talk about yourself in an interview that shows you are equal parts humble and talented. Learning how to describe your skills is a vital part of finding a job and thriving in it. Naturally, the hiring manager wants to know what you are good at.
However, as they think about hiring you, they are most likely also going to be evaluating your personality. No one likes braggadocious people. Say what you’ve done with confidence, but without exposition.
Facts are adequate. If you graduated with honors, say it. If your curriculum emphasized blank, blank, and blank, by all means, share. Just do it in a way that is tolerable.