Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking to advance your career, or a college student hoping to score your first internship, searching for a job in today’s job market can be daunting. Since the average job listing attracts over 250 resumes, it’s more important than ever to find a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Establishing and maintaining a strong personal brand is the perfect way to impress hiring managers and ultimately land your dream job. From the initial application to your final interview, a strong personal brand should not only show employers that you’re competent in your field, but also convince them that their company will be drastically improved by hiring you.
Online Profiles Matter
If you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re making the hiring process harder on yourself. LinkedIn is not just an online resume, or a more professional version of Facebook. By building connections with people you know in real life, you can improve your chances of getting in contact with professionals that may already work at the company you’re applying for. 78% of recruiters believe referrals are the best source for high quality hires, and referred applicants are 5 times more likely to be hired than the average candidate.
Given the new found importance social media plays on the job hunt, it’s not surprising that it can also be used against you. 70% of hiring managers admit to searching for their candidates online profiles and screening them for any red flags. While an exhaustive list doesn’t exist for what exactly is considered a red flag, a good rule of thumb is to avoid posting anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read. If you absolutely cannot live without posting explicit content, then make sure your profiles privacy settings are being used correctly to block out anyone you haven’t pre-approved.
Prepare for Your Phone Interview
You’ve made it through the initial screening and you’re about to have your first phone interview with the company of your dreams. While a phone interview may seem like a very small step in the hiring process, it’s your chance to reaffirm the personal brand you built through your resume and online profiles. One of the most common questions asked during a phone interview is a simple, “tell me about yourself.” If you don’t already have a strong and concise answer prepared, then you’re missing out on easy interview points. Instead of rehashing your resume or getting too personal, practice a short elevator pitch that will answer two questions:
Make Sure You Look Professional
After a successful phone interview, you’re invited in for an in-person interview. You only have 7 seconds to make a first impression, so how you choose to present yourself for the interview can literally make or break your chances of getting hired. Presenting yourself professionally is imperative to maintaining a strong personal brand. When it comes to what to wear to an interview, it’s best to be overdressed rather than underdressed. Even if the company you’re interviewing at has a very casual dress code, it’s never okay to wear jeans to an interview. Instead, opt for khakis and and a clean, long sleeved button down shirt. Ladies have a few more options than men, however even in a casual office, attire should remain both conservative and professional.
What you wear isn’t the only way to maintain your personal brand during the first impression window. Both men and women should be cognizant of how to groom themselves in a professional manner. Ladies should keep their makeup natural and simple, taking care to avoid dark colors that are more appropriate for a night out on the town. Gentlemen don’t have to go completely baby-faced to an interview, but they should consider investing in a good razor to make sure their facial hair is trimmed and proper. Interviewees should also practice positive body language during their first encounter with a hiring manager, as slouching or a weak handshake can subconsciously communicate that you’re not a good fit for the position.
Follow Up with a Thank You
After you’ve completed your interview, you can reinforce your strong personal brand through a thank you email. The email should be well written and sent out in a timely manner, as time is of the essence during the job hunt. In addition to showing the hiring manager you are still interested in the job, it can double as an opportunity to cover anything you felt you missed during the interview. However, try to keep the email as brief as possible, so be sure to only include information you feel is of the utmost importance. If your interview consisted of more than one interviewer or hiring manager, make sure you send a thank you to each of the people you spoke with.