This post was written by Pamela Paterson, author of the Amazon bestseller, Get the Job: Optimize Your Resume for the Online Job Search on behalf of the Happy Grad Project.
As a new grad, you may be eager to put yourself in the market, get a good job, and begin your career. But what’s the best strategy to achieve that?
My answer, based on 20 years of helping people find work and writing an Amazon bestselling book on resumes, is to create a clear and compelling personal brand.
What’s A Personal Brand?
According to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” They are the words that are invoked when people think of you—your skills, values, and talents. Your brand is what people can expect from you.
For example, I gave a lecture recently about personal brands to college students. I asked them to give me words that described their professors. Some said hardworking, quality, and committed. Others said disengaged, unprofessional, and unfriendly. I pointed out that all of their professors were qualified on paper, but some of them didn’t spend any effort to create a positive brand. If you lack tenure and are just entering the job market, you need to create a strong brand that tells employers why to hire you.
Developing Your Brand
Your brand will tell employers why you are a perfect fit for the job and their company: how you meet their needs. Your brand must be evident in your resume and cover letter, as well as your online presence (when you Google yourself, what do you find?). Your brand must match the requirements in the company’s job posting, as well as the company values that you find on their website. As an aside, matching the job posting will also help you get through the company’s applicant tracking system, which is designed to screen out poor keyword matches.
Through the job posting and website, and any other online searching you do (for example, of staff LinkedIn profiles), you’ll learn some general characteristics the company looks for in its employees. It could be people who can work in an aggressive, multiple-priority environment, or people who function best in a process-driven government organization. You’ll learn about the “personality” of the company. The closer your brand is to their personality, the better your chances of joining that company.
Know that even companies in the same industry may have different personalities. For example, two accounting firms will not necessarily embrace the same values. A small, local accounting firm that helps clients file their taxes will have a stronger requirement for customer service than an auditor in a global accounting firm who doesn’t have any direct customer contact.
Strengthening Your Brand
Always live up to the promises of your brand.
Imagine that your resume says you are a high-energy person who loves working in a fast-paced environment. Now, suppose HR calls you, and you answer the phone sounding half-asleep. Just like that, you’ve hurt your brand.
To avoid the damage, answer the phone professionally at all times, even after normal working hours. If you do not have your resume and the company job posting in front of you, then ask HR when you can call back, then get organized. Read the employer’s website so you can orient yourself to match the employer’s brand, and know what they expect from your brand.
Brands Develop Over Time
The more experience you get, the more opportunity you have to create and reinforce your brand because you will have a track record that employers can rely on. Follow these tips to develop a better brand:
- Honor your commitments. When you say you will complete a job, then do it.
- Always deliver the best work. Your results from previous jobs will follow you to the next one. Make sure you always deliver top results.
- Be ethical. When people know they can trust you, they will present you with more opportunities.
- Get LinkedIn testimonials. Let other people do the talking for you. What’s more believable: self-praise or other people detailing your accomplishments?
- Build an online presence. Get a LinkedIn account for starters. Share your knowledge in online discussions and give to your network. Don’t do anything online your grandma wouldn’t be proud of.
Get Started Now
Take some time to sit down and assess what you have to offer. Ask yourself such questions as:
- What are my best skills?
- What can I do better than most people?
- Where do I get my best results?
- What compliments do I receive?
- What does the job market and employers ask for that I have?
Creating your brand is critically important as you enter today’s highly competitive job marketplace. It’s worth all the time and effort necessary to do it right.
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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