Building your Brand

SO YOU’VE JUST GRADUATED AND YOU’RE READY TO GET OUT THERE AND START LOOKING FOR WORK. GREAT! NOW PAUSE FOR A SECOND AND READ THIS BEFORE YOU START FIRING OFF APPLICATIONS.

What Is My Brand?

Think of your personal brand as your professional identity. If you look at each job application and interview as a sales pitch, you and your brand are the products you want to sell.

YOUR BRAND SHOULD INCLUDE:

• What drives you, and what you bring to your work
• A sense of what you’re passionate about
• What you want to achieve

Some of these things can be challenging to figure out, but don’t worry – your brand isn’t set in stone. Goals change, and as you try your hand at varied work, you’ll get a better sense of what you like and what you don’t like.

Writing the Pitch

If you had one chance to impress an employer, how would you do it? Imagine you’re in an elevator with someone who can give you your dream job, and you need to make the case for why you should get the gig before the end of the elevator ride. This is where the elevator pitch comes in.

An elevator pitch is short and sweet – after all, you’ve only got the time it takes for the elevator to go from the lobby to the employer’s floor. Start by writing it out, and keep it to one page. Read it out loud afterwards, timing yourself as you do so. It should only take between 30 seconds and a minute to make your pitch.

HERE ARE A FEW QUESTIONS TO KEEP IN MIND AS YOU DEVELOP YOUR PITCH:

• Is it straightforward and easy to follow?
• Does it highlight your skills?
• If someone asked, could you provide clear examples to support everythingyou’ve said?
• Did you identify yourself? It sounds silly, but remember to introduce yourself right away. It’s easier to remember a face when it goes with a name, and vice-versa.
• Did you thank the employer for his or her time?
• Did you provide a call to action? Is there a clear next step for the employer?

Once you’ve written everything down, practice it with friends and family. Make sure you’re ready to make your pitch when the opportunity arises. You can also use an elevator pitch as a starting point for cover letters, and it can be boiled down to a clear, one- or two-sentence statement on a resumé.

Hitting Refresh on your Online Presence

Are you still using the same email address you created in middle school? If so, it’s probably time to update your image.

FOLLOW THESE QUICK AND EASY TIPS TO REFRESH YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE FOR THE JOB HUNT:

• A prospective employer doesn’t want to field emails from swaglord420@hotmail.com or kawaii_gurl_xX@hotmail.com – so get a new one! Stick to Gmail if you can, and make sure your new address is related to your name (johnsmith@ gmail.com, for example) or your career (janedoewriter@gmail.com).
• Is there anything on your Facebook profile, Twitter feed, or Instagram account that you wouldn’t want an employer to see? If so, delete it or update your privacy settings so it’s only visible to you.
• Run a Google search on your name. Again, try to delete anything you wouldn’t want your boss to find. If you can’t delete it, bury it with good stuff – join online communities that relate to your interests and contribute in a positive way.
• If you want to take your online presence to the next level, consider investing in a domain name. Sites like Wix and SquareSpace make it easy and affordable to set up a personalized website.

Most employers understand that today’s youth have grown up on the Internet. Nevertheless, it’s important to regulate your social media presence and exposure. After all, it’s has never been easier for that embarrassing photo to wind up online.

Getting LinkedIn

So you can Tweet like a pro and you know your way around Facebook and Instagram? You’re pretty much a master. But you keep hearing about LinkedIn, and you have no idea where to start. That’s okay!

LinkedIn isn’t as much a social network as it is a professional one. LinkedIn’s platform allows you to connect with your professional contacts and prospective employers while staying on top of trends and developments in your field. It’s also a great way to build a network of people who can endorse your skills and speak to your experience. But how does it work?

YOUR PROFILE…

• Keeps users informed about your professional life
• Highlights your strongest skills
• Incorporates elements of your personal brand
• Details your work experience and employment history
• Identifies who you are and what you can do

Starting out on LinkedIn can be intimidating, but if you take a bit of time here and there – even intermittently – you can easily develop a strong and fleshed-out profile. The information you share on LinkedIn informs personalized job suggestions generated by the site, and can be a valuable tool in refining your job search. LinkedIn is also connected to numerous applicant tracking systems, and even boasts a job board that can help you apply ASAP.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE, CONSIDER JOINING SOME OF THE COMMUNITIES AND GROUPS ON LINKEDIN. THESE COMMUNITIES…

• Allow peers and colleagues to connect and communicate
• Serve as a reference pool for advice and information in your field
• Allow you to expand your professional network and get in touch with prospective employers

Brand Power

By now you’ve learned a few easy steps that can make a difference in building the strength of your personal brand. It’s time to get out there and try it for yourself!

PROFILE PIC TIPS

Your profile picture is going to be the first thing people see when they look at your LinkedIn, so it’s important to get it right. When selecting your pic, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

• Don’t use a selfie
• Make sure you’re dressed professionally
• Smile!

When in doubt, try to find a good photographer to help you out with a decent professional headshot.

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