With everyone and their mom in college these days, it’s getting harder to stand out from the crowd. In order to differentiate yourself from the other 20 million Americans in college, you must find out what makes you different than the rest.
Simply put, it’s time to brand yourself.
Step 1: Create your own website
This sounds crazy if you have little knowledge of website design/construction, but it’s so easy these days. Sites such as WordPress, Wix, GoDaddy, Weebly and more are super user friendly and customizable. Oh, and I forgot to mention FREE! Attach a domain using your first and last name (this actually will cost a little depending on where you go). It may be harder than it sounds since many domains are taken, but play around with it. Be sure to include in your website a nice picture, resume, any samples of work you’ve done, and contact information. You can include links to your social sites as well.
Step 2: Brand your resume
You should already know what to put on a resume and how powerful it can be. What can you do to brand your resume? If you’re not a graphic design or arts major, you should probably stick to a pretty basic format and keep it clean and professional. But what you can do is create a logo for your name. I’ve seen this done plenty of times. It adds a touch of uniqueness and even a little pop of color. For example, I’ve seen people put their first and last initial with their name spelled out in small letters beneath it. You can be creative without being over the top. Insert your logo and contact info as your header and put your Linkedin/Twitter/website in the footer.
Step 3: Brand your thank-you letters
I’ve been told a dozen different ways to send a thank you letter after an interview: send an email, send a simple handwritten note, send a greeting card, send a card with the interviewer’s alma mater, etc… What if you created your own simple design as your “branded” thank you note? Basically copy and paste the header and footer of your resume and insert into your thank you letter. You can either type or hand write the body. I prefer to write the note by hand although I’m sure both ways are applicable. Its like your own stationary set.
Step 4: Brand your LinkedIn
Upload your personalized resume to LinkedIn. Be sure all info from your resume matches up with your LinkedIn and vice versa. It’s easy to make updates on our profile and accidentally forget update to the hard copy of our resume. For your profile picture on LinkedIn: use a professional head shot or something similar. No family photos and try to avoid cropping your face out of a tagged photo of you at the bar. The clearer, more professional shot, the better! It shows you take yourself and your career seriously. Also, ask for recommendations from bosses and previous employers. The more, the better. It proves that you are who you say you are.
Step 5: Brand all social media accounts
Social media can be tricky. I believe LinkedIn and Twitter should be for professional use and Facebook and Instagram is for personal use, but everyone has their own opinion. First and foremost you should look like the same person in all your profile pictures. While you can make many things private on Facebook, everyone can see your profile pic and cover photo. Keep that in mind.
Another thing you can do is make all your social accounts have the same name. Example: facebook.com/JohnDoe, Twitter: @johndoe, LinkedIn.com/JohnDoe, etc.. This is a trick used to brand businesses, so start thinking of yourself as your own little company!
If you really amp up your LinkedIn and Twitter professionally, that should give potential employers the satisfaction and guarantee they are looking for. Make sure that anything they can see on your Facebook and Instagram is appropriate. Also, post industry-related articles on LinkedIn and tweet about them on Twitter. Be sure to join and follow any groups related to your profession. Be active and professional on these two sites and you should receive good feedback from those recruiters who love stalking you!
Step 6: Brand your emails
This is easy: add a signature to your email! Here’s an example of how to format your email signature: name, job titles, organization titles (president of XYZ), website link and LinkedIn link. When applying for jobs, a simple email is your first impression and it is very important you make a good one! Having a professional signature will definitely help you get that foot in the door.
Step 7: Brand your voicemail
Some of us hate the sound of our own voice, but recording a short voicemail is a great way to step up your game. It allows a potential employer to hear the sound of your best, most confident voice! Make it short and simple. It’s easy to overlook the voicemail but I’ve heard of recruiters not leaving a message if the voicemail is the generic robot lady saying “Hello, you’ve reached 123-456-7891. At the tone, please record your message.”
Step 8: Brand your professional wardrobe
Sometimes it’s questionable about what someone should wear to an interview or on the first day of the job. While it’s up to you to dress yourself, be sure you understand dress code and the differences between business casual, business and formal. For interviews, always dress for the job you ultimately want to have i.e. president, versus the job you applied for i.e. assistant manager. It doesn’t matter what the job title is, who the company is, where it’s located… what matters is you are making a first impression and people will remember you by this. This is all a part of “branding” yourself.
In conclusion, there are many ways to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Used together, these tools will help lead you to that first full time position and will get you at least one step ahead of your opponents.
About the Author:
My name is Mary Robb and you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love writing, public relations and marketing! I am a lifelong learner and continually find ways to innovate and improve existing ideas. I’m also a huge animal advocate and believe in rescuing animals. Music determines my mood and stirs up my passion. Twitter: @MaryERobb or WordPress: MaryERobb.com