Develop your personal brand

When reading today’s issue of the Reno-Gazette Journal, the article titled, “Tips for developing your personal brand” caught my eye.

The author, Matt Tarpey of Career Builder, does a nice job in providing simple suggestions to position oneself to potential employers. He presented four basic tips:

  1. Identify your passion
  2. Prepare an elevator pitch
  3. Network
  4. Get your name out there

These are strong tips, and I’d like to add more to truly help job-seekers position themselves for ideal employment opportunities. As you identify your passion, start by understanding your interests. What do you like to do? What classes interest you? Do you like to talk to people or would you prefer to work independently? Are you a 9-to-5er or would you prefer to dedicate more time to your profession? Answering these questions, and more, will help you understand you, how you operate, what drives you to succeed, which direction to take, etcetera. Your passion is embedded in truly understanding yourself.

Before you can prepare an elevator pitch and network, you really want to know which fields, industries, and positions you’re most interested. With this information, you’ll be able to target employers, associations, and leaders with which to research, connect, and build relationships. The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is completely true. By making connections with key leaders, you’ll understand more about potential employers, their hiring needs, key decision-makers, and the positions they’re seeking to fill.

When working with job-seekers, one piece of advice I try to impart is for them to try to land an interview without the use of a resume. This requires meeting people and sharing your story. Taking advantage of networking, as the article’s author suggests, could result in many opportunities…potential job offers, references, invitations to events, etc. Networking opens many doors with both short and long-term effect. While you’ll likely need a resume, the quest to make incredibly strong connections could result in greater chances to secure interviews.

Another tip offered by the author is to get your name out there. Before you do this, I strongly suggest you take a close look at your social media. Start with LinkedIn, where you need a presence. Only about 57% of college students have an account, yet a very small percentage actually leverage the professionally-driven social media tool. I would then look at your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and others. Be sure to screen for improper content and visuals. Remove photos and posts which can be potentially damaging to your quest to land a job. I follow one simple rule – if my mom wouldn’t approve of the post, it’s likely not acceptable to others. If that doesn’t sway you, just know that employers are scanning your social media. As soon as you show interest in a position, it’s quite possible they’re researching you on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure your social media is clean.

I offer one more suggestion to help you develop your personal brand. I believe I have a keen ability to read a person within 15 seconds. Many recruiters with whom I talk feel the same way. First impressions speak volumes to making strong connections, engaging in meaningful conversations, and securing job interviews. Make sure you know how to dress in every situation, shake hands firmly, look others in the eyes upon greeting, and maintaining positive body language. These simple suggestions will set the tone for outstanding conversations.

As a job-seeker, you are your best salesperson. Implementing these tips towards developing a personal brand will set you apart from other job and internship-seeking candidates.