If you have read one of previous posts in this series you already know how important it is to actively manage your personal brand. Personal branding can be the trump card of college students and graduates who wish to distinguish themselves from their peers and land the job of their dreams (or at least get on the right track).
Big part of personal branding is making sure that your resume or CV paint an authentic picture of who you are and what are your unique skills and competences.
Most often than not, your first contact with the recruiters will be through your resume, CV or cover letter. First impressions are lasting ones and will definitely affect their decision to invite you to an interview or not. Your goal should be to leave a positive and lasting impression in recruiter’s mind – to make an emotional connection that will make you more than a few letters on a page.
Use this opportunity to convey your brand’s promise and value you can add to the company.
Here are some of the ways to do it:
1. Write a compelling personal branding statement
Instead of writing the same old objective statement or executive summary, invest time to write an original personal branding statement.
I do not recommend objective statement because it focuses on what you want instead of on the ways you can meet the needs of potential employer. Executive summary, on the other hand, is great for more experienced individual and may suite you after a couple of years of working experience.
Personal branding statement will allow you to highlight personal traits, skills and competences that can prove to be valuable to the employer, while being tolerant of your entry-level experience. Personal branding statement is the first thing recruiters read about you and as such provide a brief summary of who you are as a professional – your personal value proposition.
Your branding statement should be brief, 4 to 6 lines at most, and convey:
- Who you are and what your qualifications are – focus on your core skills and competences and relevant experience you have. Mention your educational history, internships or involvement in academic projects and even part time jobs and volunteering activities.
- What are your aspirations – explain your carrier objectives and where you see the company and the position you are applying for in those objectives.
- What are your values – provide information about personality traits that define your working persona and support your objectives.
EXAMPLE PERSONAL BRANDING STATEMENT
Honours graduate of St Luke’s University’s International Marketing program seeking a position in digital marketing office. Offering hands-on experience in digital promotion of a now bestselling book by Daniel Humble and creation of loyalty recognition programs done for UniBank. Holder of Google Analytics certificate. Volunteer coordinator and community manager at TEDxSmallville.
2. Use cover letter to tell your story.
With most companies today using “applicant tracking systems” (ATS) to make their recruiting efforts more efficient, you may think that cover letters have lost their importance. But as USA Today’s article reports, cover letters can still make the difference between getting the job or not.
Cover letters are powerful tools for personal branding. Their tone is not as formal as in resumes and do not have a form you are required to follow. They allow you to add a personal tone to your application.
What most people get wrong is that even though cover letters serve as an introduction to our application or resume, ultimately, they are not about us – they are about putting our experiences, achievements and competences in perspective of how we can provide value to the employer.
Anne Follis, Certified Professional Resume Writer, recommends paying special attention to its opening line because it has to grab attention of the recruiter and make the writer stand out.
“Do you have a favourite quote that expresses your core professional values? Or is there a quote about you from your letters of reference or job evaluations that is particularly glowing and sums up what makes you unique from the pack? Put it at the top of your cover letter. Is there a story in your career history that defines who you are and what makes you stand out? Lead with it!”
Then, continue on with your story. Showcase your knowledge about company’s values and provide evidence of cultural fit. Let the recruiters know you are aware of company’s needs and provide the ways you would address them.
Show them that you are exactly what company is looking for!
It is important to have a strong beginning but it’s equally important to have a strong ending. End on a confident note – say that you are looking forward to future collaboration, as part of this recruiting process or in the future, and let the company know that you intent to follow up.
EXAMPLE COVER LETTER
Dear Miss Black,
“Michael was part of our original team of five that showed the initiative to bring TEDx to Smallville. As our community manager he contributed to making TEDxSmallville a recognised and trendy cultural event. He achieved that through various social media campaigns that focused on building a community of people interested in being inspired to be innovative, to implement their ideas with passion, to achieve their dreams by continuous personal improvement and to look at obstacles as on new opportunities.”
– Quote from letter of reference by Alan Porter, head organiser at TEDxSmallville
My name is Michael White and I am very interested in becoming a part of your team. I have been following the development of your company throughout my studies and it was my intention to contact you upon graduation. When I saw you recent ad for job opening in your digital marketing office I could not pass up the opportunity to apply.
I am aware that your company is relatively young and that, so far, you have not actively used social media as part of your marketing efforts. I can relate to challenges you are facing in that aspect and I am of opinion that my previous experiences have contributed to me acquiring a set of skills and competencies that you may find of value. I have added a quote from a letter of reference by Alan Porter that I think expresses my core professional values and competences the best.
For six months I have worked on digital promotion of Daniel Humble’s book which, due to our efforts, became a national bestseller. For UniBank I worked on creation of loyalty recognition programs that expanded their customer base by 10 percent and raised their sales by 15 percent. Experience and contacts I have acquired in the industry can help me respond to your need of experienced social media marketer that will monitor and drive brand awareness through online marketing activities.
I hope that you will recognise me as a valuable addition to you team. Either way, I thank you for taking the time to read my e-mail and resume. I am looking forward to our future collaboration.
3. Feature your contributions to specific projects or problems.
As the most desirable employer in North America and company with advanced hiring process, Google is often the target of interviews focusing on various advices for people wanting to become part of their community.
“The key,” he said, “is to frame your strengths as: ‘I accomplished X, relative to Y, by doing Z.’ Most people would write a résumé like this: ‘Wrote editorials for The New York Times.’ Better would be to say: ‘Had 50 op-eds published compared to average of 6 by most op-ed [writers] as a result of providing deep insight into the following area for three years.’ Most people don’t put the right content on their résumés.”
He also wrote an article on biggest mistakes people make when writing a resume and one of them is the length. He said that we should have one page of resume for every ten years of experience and that “a crisp, focused resume demonstrates an ability to synthesise, prioritise, and convey the most important information” about us.
Formula given above can help us keep our resumes short and focused on our most important qualities and achievements. This should be sufficient for getting us an interview, where we will have the opportunity to explain everything in detail if needed.
4. Get creative in your resume creation process.
Depending on job position we are applying for, there are several tools we can use to make our resume stand out. If the company is looking for creativity, innovative problem solving or artistic spirit our resume may be the right way to illustrate our skills. The resume you can see on the picture above is made with http://www.resumebaker.com/.
You can find a lot of creative resume examples here. Nowadays people are using everything from infographics, You Tube videos, Prezi to sewing on fabric to feature their abilities in an original and unique way.
But be careful, not all companies would prefer this kind of resume. Most often than not, companies that receive many resumes prefer to get them as standardised as possible. In that case, my advice is to send your resume in .PDF because it maintains its form on all devices and viewing platforms, unless another format is specifically required.
5. Make links to you website or landing page part of your resume.
With rising influence of technology on our lives, including our job search, it is crucial to pay attention to our digital footprint. Our online presence should correspond with what we have written in our cover letter and resume.
I recommend including links to your website or landing page – that serves as your online resume – in your “paper” resume. Having your own website allows you to take control of your digital footprint by organising information available about you in the way that serves you best.
You website can feature links to your social media profiles and detailed information about projects you have worked on in the past. Additional bonus is having a blog where you have the opportunity to demonstrate what your interests are and your knowledge and opinions on industry related topics.
You can also get creative and register personal and memorable domain name for your website or blog.
In the end, I would like to hear your opinions and experiences. Is your resume part of your personal branding efforts? How are you infusing your personality into your resume?
This post is part of Personal Branding for Students and Graduates Campaign. Last week we worked on the foundations of personal branding by providing you with advice on how to analyze your existing brand and start building your desired one.