“If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”
These were wise words spoken by legendary Mad Men character, Don Draper. They are especially wise in the context of personal branding.
There are many students who have just graduated college this past semester who are now faced with the task of finding employment. With unemployment at 4.9 percent, competition has lessened for many positions and job seekers can be more selective in their employment choices. This doesn’t mean it’s easier to get the job you always wanted. You’re not going to get noticed with the same cookie- cutter business graduate resume that 95% of your peers or going to put out there. So how do you make yourself different? Change the conversation. Create the personal brand that you want employers to see and not what they are expecting. The following are the “Three C’s” of personal branding and they can change the conversation to get you noticed.
One of our favorite stories from last year was the story of Nina Mufleh. Mufleh’s dream job was to work for Airbnb. She tried to get in touch with the company through job postings and emails but had no luck. That’s when she decided to think outside the box. She ended up creating a website for herself that highlighted her knowledge of Airbnb and the travel industry, how she thinks they could improve, and how she was qualified to work at Airbnb. Her efforts ended up getting noticed by both Airbnb’s CMO and CEO and she eventually got an interview with the company.
What Mufleh did was create something that no one else had thought of doing and an opportunity presented itself. She realized that there were other people who probably were as qualified or more qualified than herself on paper and she decided to change the conversation to highlight her knowledge of Airbnb and the travel industry. Everyone has a resume and a LinkedIn. What can you create that someone else doesn’t have? You don’t necessarily have to create a website but maybe start a blog that demonstrates your knowledge in a specific area. If you’re a numbers guy, create a new statistical model or formula. Take an area that you are strong in and display it in a way that is original and creative.
A quick marketing lesson: When trying to create brand awareness, one needs a clear message that highlights their brand in such a way that resonates with the target market while differentiating itself from different brands. Let’s use bottled water as an example. Company A might claim that their water comes from mountain springs and is therefore more natural and refreshing than other brands. Company B may claim that the material used to bottle their water is more bio degradable than other brands and is therefore more eco-friendly. Both companies are selling the same product, however they are customizing their message to appeal to a specific target market amongst bottled water consumers.
This is the same process you should be using when applying for a job. How are you going to customize your message and differentiate your personal brand so that it appeals to the company you’re applying for? If you’re applying for a job in sports highlight your athletic experience and how it coincides with the position. If it is an international job, highlight relevant traveling you’ve done and the knowledge you gained from the experience. Overall, you want to establish a brand that is unique and can’t be duplicated by another candidate.
If you’ve been following our blog series, you already know that we have touched on the importance of connecting and networking in our “Life After Graduation” blog. It is however well worth our time to reiterate how valuable connecting and networking can be. Connecting is what ties the first two C’s together. You can create and customize your personal brand all you want, but if you do not build an audience your brand and message will fall on deaf ears. Humans by nature do not like unfamiliarity. Make your brand known and easily recognizable. Familiarity is what can separate you from another candidate.
Athletes have a particular advantage when it comes to connecting their personal brands. “Athletes get a lot of chances to meet people in their community. Events like fundraisers and booster events are a great way to integrate yourself into the local community and meet people of influence.” says NexGoal CEO Kevin Dahl. “Mingle, get business cards, and follow up with these contacts. You have a great opportunity to be put in front of the people that may hire you. Make a good impression and seize the opportunity!” Putting yourself in situations where you are surrounded by people who have influence can make all the difference in gaining the attention you desire.
Are you ready to change the conversation and get your dream job? Follow the “Three C’s” of personal branding and you will effectively put yourself in the driver seat of accomplishing your goal.
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