Making and Marketing “Me, Inc.”
How a personal brand – a single sentence about you – will help you land a job
When you think of Apple, what comes to mind? Most likely it’s the company’s sleek products, like the iPhone, iPod, and Macbook Air (perhaps the delicious fruit pops up, too). Behind each of these products lies Apple’s brand proposition: “Think different.” Apple’s products have revolutionized the way we consume music and make us think differently about computing software and hardware.
As a job seeker, you, too, should have a brand promise: a personal brand. Your brand is a statement that explains not just who you are, but how you stand out from others in your field. Take McDonald’s and Burger King: They both sell cheap, fast, greasy burgers with fries, but they construct different representations of themselves. McDonald’s tagline, “I’m lovin’ it,” promises food you love to eat despite the health risks. Burger King’s most iconic tagline, “Have it your way,” says you dictate what you want, like the king that you are, and the company will deliver. (In another food-related example, even apple, the fruit, has a slogan to set it apart from the other fruit: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”)
Market yourself as if you’re one of these companies (if corporations are people, people are also corporations, right?). Highlight what makes you, a college graduate with a newly printed bachelor’s degree, different from your fellow graduates with the same degree. It’s the difference between saying, “I’m Jessica, and I’m a recent graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in English,” and “I’m Jessica, and I love refining rough drafts of riveting stories.”
Your personal brand should be catchy, pithy, and most of all, authentic and truthful.
Here’s how having a personal brand helps you throughout the process:
Recruiters and companies know the type of person they’re looking for when they post a position. But they have to wade through a sea of hundreds of resumes to find the right person. Prevent your resume from sinking by including our personal brand on your resume in a “Summary” section. It’s like a thesis statement: it declares what you’re about right up front, helps recruiters find you, and shows them that you’re the one they have in mind. Using your personal brand on LinkedIn is also a great way to get picked up on a recruiter’s radar. Instead of putting “Recent graduate of…” as your LinkedIn headline, put part of your personal brand (for example, Jessica’s would be: “Refiner of Riveting Stories”). Include your full statement in the summary section.
Even after recruiters narrow down the pool of candidates, companies have to interview several people. How can you stand out in an interviewer’s memory?
“So tell me a little bit about yourself” is a common interview icebreaker before getting into questions about your strengths and weaknesses. Lead with your personal brand mantra, then elaborate with experiences that reinforce that value proposition. These succinct statements will help an interviewer remember you, and will distinguish you from other candidates.
Networking plays a vital part in finding a job, and people in your networks want to help you. But their connection to your’s alums of the same school, as former coworkers’ isn’t your main selling point to potential employers. A personal brand gives people in your network a clear, succinct idea of who you are, the value you bring to companies, and how to pitch you to those companies. And because you’ve provided your network with an easy way to market you, you’ll be at the top of your connections’ lists when they’re making recommendations.
If you don’t have a personal brand yet, it’s easy to start. Begin making “Me, Inc.” today by completing the sentence “I am passionate about …” Keep editing the statement until you have a witty and honest personal brand that’s no longer than a tweet.
Written by Ashley McDonnell
Would you like some expert help in building and refining your personal brand?
Check out our Introduce Yourself WebClass.