That’s the potentially multi-million dollar question.
And the answer to it lies in designing your own personal brand.
What is a personal brand?
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” That was how he defined personal branding. Quite simply, it’s how people perceive you. And it’s in that where you must first define who you are. And defining who you are helps potential employers remember you when they are thinking of who to hire from the pool of interviewees. It also helps them CARE about you.
Using what you’ve got
When Barbara Corcoran, the real estate mogul, first started out as a broker-at-large in NYC, she followed her mother’s advice, “Use What You’ve Got”. With a non-existent budget for wardrobe, she chose one, standout, expensive jacket, and wore it everywhere. That hot pink designer jacket became her trademark, and everyone knew her as the pink jacket broker. Not long after, she was known as “The Queen of Real Estate”. Barbara’s mom understood how the world works, and how to make the most of what you’ve got. How can you stand out?
Think about it
A big mistake that people make when branding themselves is not really giving it the thought it deserves. It’s whatever that thing is that you’re good at that needs to be marketed. If people have ever called you witty or quick, funny or smart, an expert on the laws of physics – those are all part of your brand which can make you a standout.
Explore deeply about the type of brand you want to present to the world and construct for yourself. Once you discover your core strength; once you know your career path and where you want your goals to ultimately take you, it’s then time to get into the fun part: creation.
She’s “Geeky Chic” and he’s “Preppy with a dash of suave”
Who are you? What is your “Virtual Voice”? You want both an online and offline presence that reflects the brand you are creating for yourself. This is how others will see you and remember you. Social media profiles (such as Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn) will make up the bulk of your digital self, but creating a blog or website can also greatly enhance your reach and expand your network while selling your brand. If you want to be known as “The Geeky Chic girl” or “The guy who gets stuff done”, let your writing style and visuals support that persona.
You also want to highlight anything that makes you stand out in a line of applicants. Don’t just show qualifications and experience, but also show that your brand is not only strong but well-rounded and diverse. Talk a little bit about what you’ve done on campus, any clubs or organizations you’ve belonged to, and any volunteer work you’ve done in the community. Companies are constantly talking about schools they’ve built or environmental programs they’ve launched because it makes their brand look good. The same exact thing applies to you.
That’s not to say that you should have fluff on your resume or cover letter like, “During the semester I successfully scaled Mount Everest while helping NASA deflect an asteroid from Earth”, (though admittedly, that would be pretty cool), but you do want to show interests beyond your job qualifications. You never know if an employer is a dog lover like you.
The job market today is incredibly competitive and ever-shrinking. That is why it’s imperative to show potential employers your unique personal brand. Because at the end of the day it’s always important to remember that people will see you the way you see yourself. And that is one in a million.