At this early stage in your career, you’ll often be competing against people with greater experience, longer CVs, and more impressive job titles.
So how do you manage to stand out?
By using personal branding to package yourself as the solution that your potential employer needs. As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos famously said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Here’s how you can make sure they’re saying the right things about you, by applying the five C’s of effective personal branding.
You need to be clear about what you can offer potential bosses right now. But you also need clarity about where you’re going – this will help you take the action you need to take now, in order to start becoming the successful, five-years-from-now, version of yourself.
Begin by picturing your ideal work day in five years’ time. What work are you doing? What impact are you having? What organisation are you working for? What are people saying about you? Go into as much detail as you can.
Now, who would you have to be today, in order to embody that person? What action would you take? Which people would you have to engage with? What support would you need? What would you have to do to make people say the right things about you?
Experts believe that up to 93% of communication is non-verbal. You may be doing things that contradict the engaged, confident impression you’re trying to create, such as dropping eye contact, slouching, or sub-consciously checking your phone or fiddling with your hair. And now that so many interviews are being conducted online, little give-aways like these will be magnified. So practise your interview style, in front of the mirror or with a friend. Once you know what your body is doing, you’ll have much more control over what it is communicating.
You’re probably used to short, snappy forms of communication such as texts or social media posts. Whilst this is helpful in many ways, you also need to be mindful of context.
“I often receive e-mails from students that are ambiguous or come across as curt because the senders wrote them as if they were texting,” explains professor of marketing and author David Hagenbuch. “Brevity can be a virtue, but Gen Z needs to ensure that all of their communication is context-appropriate, clear and complete.”
Consistency goes much deeper than simply being known for doing the same thing; consistency is about trust and reliability. It’s about people knowing you will always deliver.
“Ensure that your personal brand promise stays consistent, both online and offline,” advises intergenerational leadership coach Fyiona Yong. “You have to demonstrate consistency across your communication, gravitas, and appearance.”
Your social media feeds are one of the first things potential employers will check. Just as curators in a museum carefully choose which objects to display about a certain subject, so you should show facets of your ‘brand’ that will reassure potential bosses that you are a productive and reliable employee. It might even be worth setting up new, professional accounts to demonstrate your interest and knowledge in your chosen career field.
You can find out more about how to use social to succeed here.