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Build the Brand to Get the Gig

Seeker Spotlight Series

Mitchell Mcleod

Boston University

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Build the Brand to Get the Gig

Let’s not sugarcoat it: getting a job is damn tough. Endless amounts of writing cover letters, pouring over job listings, and dead-end email chains can leave even the most resolute of us disheartened. But fear not, because the most valuable skill to master while job hunting is very straightforward and effective. A well-crafted personal image – or brand – is your most valuable tool, and most importantly, one that is in your total control.

This brand must achieve three goals: concisely tell an employer about yourself, assure them that you are a strong potential employee, and be unforgettable. Selling your brand is easiest while directly communicating with an employer, but your resume, social media profiles, and cover letters must align with the brand you forge. An important distinction needs to be made before we dive in: crafting this brand does not mean lying and it does not mean acting. It’s simply a selective process on how to present yourself to employers.

The first step is relatively easy: be yourself. Employers want to know the real you before they hire you, so carefully select elements to share. Talk about your hobbies outside of work. Delve into some quirky and memorable anecdotes. Make sure these small windows into your life align with the overall brand you are selling and avoid contradictions. Most importantly, be honest. Never lie or overstate your qualifications or experience. To prepare, think of stories that are funny, memorable and reveal something interesting about you. Focus on crafting a likable – and truthful – person.

Choosing what not to include in your brand is just as important. If you do not have some of the necessary skills listed in the job posting, instead highlight other skills you have that can compensate. Make sure your social media profiles focus on presenting you positively and truthfully for when employers look at them. Don’t post or say anything you are not 100 percent sure about. When communicating, do not bring up anything controversial or divisive; it is always better to be safe than sorry.

The second step is to brand yourself as the ideal employee. While you must focus on relevant experience, do not neglect chances to present yourself as moldable, hard-working, and professional. Being moldable is important because every company’s day to day functions are different. Showing off an eagerness to learn and the ability to adapt can give you an advantage. To do so, note times when your life was altered and share how you successfully responded.

As for hard-working, no employer is going to hire you if you aren’t going to do the work. Speak about succeeding after facing a challenge and the lessons you learned. Being prepared to speak about this in an interview is invaluable, as it shows your potential employer that you are a dedicated worker while also offering them yet another window into your life.

Professionalism is the last part of appearing as an ideal worker, and is not limited to communication. Being well-spoken and polite is good, but is pointless if you don’t follow through. So dress nicely (better than the person interviewing you), show up early (on time is late) and conduct yourself appropriately. Be energetic and always take the initiative while communicating. Your brand must reflect the values a company stands for, so research every company you are applying to and adapt your brand suitably. It takes only one unprofessional action to doom your chances.

The third facet of your brand is to it make memorable. You will not be the only candidate for a position. When a company is looking over applicants, you need to both measure up to the competition and stick out in their mind. So tell stories, make personal connections, and network. Sell your brand, then hammer it home by refusing to be forgotten.

My own brand is as follows: I am a simple man from Montana. I love exercising and being outdoors. I use the experience I have from being an officer within my collegiate fraternity to show off my leadership and work ethic. I am polite and professional, but I always make people laugh. I show off my wide variety of interests to prove my adaptability, and I always share stories about playing football to prove my ability to overcome challenges.

Building your own personal brand is integral to your success. It has nothing to do with qualifications and connections, and its success and failure is one of the few facets that you alone can control. Even if you are not the most qualified candidate for a position, a well-thought-out and memorable brand will stick in an employer’s mind, and just may swing a long-shot of an opportunity into the job of your dreams.

Janae McFadden

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