Your Personal Brand – Six Ideas for Standing Out During a Job Search

Part 1 – Before You Get the Job Interview

I have had the good fortune of conducting a few searches recently. I really enjoy the process but have been surprised by the communication I receive from some candidates.

When looking for a job, it is your personal brand on the line. You are representing yourself from email and cover letters to your resume and phone interview – before the recruiter or hiring manager even meets you! Think of yourself as a product in the grocery store and you are competing for shelf space with many other products – some the same and some different than you. Put yourself in the mind of the recruiter/consumer – in this case the person doing the buying/hiring.

It is an employers’ market out there. The competition is stiff, with many more applicants than jobs. Your personal brand needs to stand out and you need to put your brand forward in the best way possible. Even before a recruiter meets you in person!

To some, these may seem elementary – yet in my recent searches these issues have come up more than once:

  1. Read your email, cover letter and resume carefully – I have received all three with typos and worse with the wrong name of the organization. Needless to say, they quickly receive a no thank you email. If this is the attention to detail the candidate gives to job search, what can we expect as an employee?
  2. Think of your job search as your job – Be professional – Set up an email with your name in it – not your wife or girlfriends – not your favorite hobby. Create a voice mail message that is professional. Return calls and leave messages clearly and promptly – including your name, phone number and a good time to return your call. That’s all – not your life story, when you will be on vacation, how excited you are to hear back. Remember to leave your phone number, yes I am repeating myself. Common sense – yet I have received messages without phone numbers. And the question arises – how will this candidate communicate effectively within the organization?
  3. Answer phone inquiries promptly and professionally – If you have call screening and don’t recognize a phone number, assume it is a recruiter calling. Turn down the TV or let it go to voice mail. Take a breath and be ready to either have a conversation or schedule a time that is better for everyone. Don’t share what you are in the middle of, who’s in your house or what you are watching on TV. This chatter may be nervousness, but does not leave a good impression.
  4. Practice your personal elevator speech – This is about YOU. Your skills and experience. Be ready to talk about it in an easy and friendly manner. Why you left your last job. What interested you in THIS particular job. What experience and successes do you have that make you a good fit for the organization and job?
  5. Have some questions ready to ask the recruiter – This shows you thought about the job and why you wanted to apply as well as be considered, how your skills fit the job AND organization. It also puts you in the driver’s seat of the conversation for a moment. This requires you reviewed the website and job posting carefully.
  6. Review the job posting and website carefully – Before applying and any phone or in person interviews. In my searches I have had candidates apply for every job I posted – their skills and experience did not fit every job or organization. Remember a recruiter sees MANY resumes – and MANY resumes from the same person does not help your brand. It shows a candidate who is applying to anything and everything. Focusing your search in your field of expertise is a better strategy than applying everywhere. If you need work immediately, apply for part-time gigs in retail.

Focus your search. Review your materials. Prepare your brand. And best wishes in your search.

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