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5 Ways Your Personal Brand Can Advance You from Interview to Job
In today’s competitive job market, it is not enough to simply craft a stunning cover letter and submit a killer resume. Job candidates – in other words, you – need to have a compelling personal brand to tie it all together.
Just what is a “personal brand?” In a nutshell, a personal brand is who you are, served up with a career-related twist.
In this post, learn about 5 key ways your personal brand can help you stand out during the interview process and net you that coveted new job!
Key #1: Think Like a Brand
At its core, a brand strives for uniqueness. If you think of your favorite soda or smart device, its “brand” is what makes you prefer it over the other options you have.
You can apply the same principles to the interviewing process. Why should an employer prefer to hire you over all the other candidates?
What to do: Research that company. Find out what its own brand is all about. Read up on its corporate culture, community activism, stance on sustainable business practices. Notice where your values and the company’s values intersect. These are the aspects of your personal brand to emphasize in your interview.
Key #2: Tell a Good Story
The world thrives on gripping storylines. The news headlines wouldn’t make much impact if each was relayed, one after the other, like a stock market ticker tape. Rather, the news is retold in the form of stories. Often, people are interviewed to involve a personal interest angle. Pictures are used to help readers visualize events as they occurred. This makes news memorable, sharable and sometimes viral.
In the same way, the story of you can be told in any number of ways. You can use bullet points, long form prose, short stories or a combination thereof. But whatever form you choose, make the story itself a good one.
What to do: Here again, company research will be key. Read up on the employer’s own latest news headlines. Learn about how the company likes to relay its news. Practice crafting your story in a similar format, emphasizing your own relevant “headlines” throughout. This will make you both memorable and eminently hirable!
Key #3: Audit (and Edit) Your Online Self
If you polled every single person that uses social media or the internet today (which is pretty much everyone) you would probably be hard-pressed to find anyone that doesn’t have at least one post or picture they regret. It happens to the best of us.
But when you are transitioning from your student days into the professional workforce, this is a great time to do a little personal branding online “cleanup.” For instance, you can untag yourself from questionable photos and posts. You can edit your privacy settings to limit what others (such as potential employers) are able to view on your social feeds. You can change your profile picture, email address, personal description and other relevant details that may need some corporate fine-tuning.
What to do: Log out of each of your social profiles. Then view them as the public sees them. When you do so, imagine you are a prospective employer that you really want to work for. What would you like to change to ensure you put your best online foot forward?
Key #4: Recreate Your Weaknesses
The days when human beings manually read each cover letter and resume are long gone. Today, computers do much of that legwork before your carefully crafted package ever gets in front of a set of human eyes.
But there is one thing that never seems to change in the interview process, and that is the question about your greatest weaknesses. “So, what would you say your greatest weaknesses are?” “I work too hard.” You can almost visualize how the dialogue is going to go.
The problem is, prospective employers don’t really want to hear about your weaknesses any more than you want to talk about them. What they want to hear is how you respond to the perception or reality of weaknesses in your career. What do you do to ensure your weakness doesn’t bring down a whole team or project? How do you strengthen in those areas? Did you ever get a really bad job review and turn things around so well you ended up getting promoted? This is a big part – an essential part – of your personal brand and what makes you unique.
What to do: Think about some weaknesses – either the ones you are working on now or ones you have overcome. What do you do? How do you tackle deficiencies of skill or knowledge? Whether you return to school, ask for help, hire a coach, ask for mentoring, build a team…..tell that story well and you might just find yourself getting hired.
Key #5: Present Yourself Brand-Face First
There is a great deal of research today highlighting how friendly, smiling people get more and better job offers and more and better raises and promotions. If the personal connection is there, that alone overcomes many other potential obstacles….and is a great aid in successful salary and benefits negotiations.
What to do: People want to work with likable, friendly, fun people. Keep your body language open. Think of your brand like it is at a campaign rally or a meet-and-greet where there is a big “win” – a new job – if all goes well.
If the thought of presenting your job candidacy like a “personal brand” is new to you, remember that this is a process. You don’t just wake up one morning knowing everything about yourself and what you stand for. But the more you study yourself and think about experiences you’ve had, the better prepared you are to craft a brand that is authentic, powerful and overwhelmingly hire-able.