First-Time Job Seekers: Brand Yourself to Stand Out

By Jessica Johnson

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Entering the job market for the first time can be a scary undertaking. College prepares us to go out into the “real world,” however, the thought of taking what we learned in the classroom and applying those skills to finding a job can be a bit overwhelming. What can you do to make yourself more marketable to employers? Build your personal brand.

So, what is a personal brand? A personal brand is the total experience of someone having a relationship with who you are and what you represent as an individual and as a leader. Think about what that means to you. Let it simmer. Your personal brand should represent the value you consistently deliver to those you’re serving. This doesn’t mean creating awareness for your brand with self-promotion or showcasing your achievements and success stories. Managing your personal brand requires you to be a role model, mentor and voice that others can depend upon.

Crafting Your Personal Brand

1. Focus on what makes you unique. What do you do really well? Do you have good people skills? Are you outgoing and friendly? Or, is research and analysis your strong suit? Articulate what you’re good at, and be as specific as possible.

2. Think about where your passion lies. Do you love to work outside therefore the thought of a desk job repulses you? Are you into sports? Government? Research? Social media? Use your passions to guide you into a career.

3. Leverage the work experience you have. While you may have limited work experience, think about the roles and responsibilities you’ve earned. Did you do an internship? Were you the head of a club or committee in college? Consider the skills and talents it took to succeed in those situations, and spell out the responsibilities you had just like they were paid positions.

4. Create an intentional network, and leverage it. Write down the names of professors you worked closely with, students you got along with (those who will land jobs) and colleagues and mentors you met during your internships and community service. Stay in touch with your network, and let each of them know what type of position you want.

5. Create your online brand. If your social media activity got a bit silly and crazy during your college years, clean it up now. Remove posts and photos that a potential employer might not find appealing. Post content and comment on posts that reflect your interests and career passions. Start building your online brand today! Create a LinkedIn page. Learn about writing your own blogs; platforms like WordPress and Joomla make it easier than ever to promote yourself to your target audience. Commit to posting a couple times a week on topics that your audience will find interesting and educational, but that also highlight your unique skills and experience. You can even create a website or a professional video that describes what you stand for and highlights your skills, knowledge and professional accomplishments, showcasing your overall value.

6. Use social media to your advantage. Social media offers many tools for job seekers. Take a look at who’s in your network, research companies you’re interested in working for, seek out hiring managers so you can build a rapport before meeting them and learn about the industry that attracts you. Information online is plentiful and available. Use it.

7. Finally, become your own marketing agent. Start observing everything you do, from your image to your spelling to your social media activity. If you were a hiring manager at your dream job, would you hire you? Be sure to promote your brand in person too. Join and participate in industry groups, give talks at conferences and offer to spearhead an important project that highlights your unique talents.

Keep putting yourself out there, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. You’ll be scooped up by a great company before you know it.

About the author

Jessica Johnson is a recruitment consultant at WilsonHCG. She started her recruiting career as a staffing assistant for a temp recruiting agency and was quickly promoted to recruiter. Before becoming a recruiter for an RPO, she also gained four years of experience as an agency recruiter. What she enjoys most about recruiting is being able to speak with so many different people and give advice to candidates about how to approach their job search and what to do to be more marketable within their industry. Jessica graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey, with a bachelor’s degree in communications. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter


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