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You’ve earned your college degree; now, you’re ready to get out there and find your dream job. When it comes to job hunting these days, “out there” means “on social media.” The internet is a primary resource in a recruiter’s toolbox today, so knowing how to present yourself online is key to landing your first post-grad position.
When you’re first starting out and don’t have much work experience, building a strong personal brand to promote your focus areas, skills and talents and highlight aspects of your personality that make you a good fit for your desired industry can seem daunting.
To help you get noticed by employers, make your résumé stand out from your competitors’ and communicate the value you bring to the marketplace, 14 members of Forbes Agency Council offered their top tips to help recent college grads build a meaningful personal brand. Use their advice to refine your online persona and get the job you really want.
1. Demonstrate How You Live Your Core Values
A personal brand is much like a corporate brand. Both have to have a strong set of core values. College graduates should be able to discuss their core values and demonstrate how they live those core values through their personal experience. Of course, it does help if a grad’s core values are in line with what employers want: curiosity, collaboration, empathy and so on. – Roger Hurni, Off Madison Ave
2. Be Genuine And Don’t Try To Oversell
Besides all of the relevant pieces of advice on building your social media profiles, I would add that you’ve also got to make sure they truly reflect who you are and the value you can provide. Don’t try to oversell, but don’t undersell. Don’t cover gaps; work on them! Show who you are and why. Be genuine. That will make you seem more trustworthy than many others. – Jordi Marca, Gotoclient
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3. Build A Purpose-Driven Personal Brand
Purpose-driven brands are more meaningful in the world, and that is true whether you are selling a product or interviewing for a job. Start with your key beliefs and values. Look for the opportunities that give you the most energy and excite you the most. Convey to employers that your career is an extension of your passion and curiosity. I can train people for anything else, but not that. – Sue Manber, Publicis Health
4. Be Different And Let Your Creativity Shine
Most of the résumés I receive look the same. If you are interested in the agency space, whether digital, direct or general, you must let your personality and creativity show. Focus on specific strengths and projects you’ve worked on. Tell a story that weaves in your strengths, such as a breakthrough idea you’ve had or how you solved a difficult problem for a teacher or a customer. – David Hadaway, Altair Data Resources
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
5. Showcase Your Relevance In The Area
Figure out what you “think” you want to do, then package yourself around relevance in that area. Everything on your résumé must speak to why your skills and experiences are relevant to the role. Sometimes, it’s difficult to let go of an irrelevant accomplishment, but it shouldn’t be a stretch. If so, lose it. Beyond the résumé, your relevance will also come through in the Zoom interview. Put thought into your background. Look the part. – Dean Trevelino, Trevelino/Keller
6. Craft A Mission Statement For Your Career
Make sure your personal brand is deeper than surface-level interests and experience. While it may evolve over time, try to craft a mission statement that you would like your career to follow. This, combined with a smart content strategy and use of social media, will create a great personal brand. – Greg Kihlstrom, The Agile World
7. Make Sure Your Online Reputation Is In The Clear
If it’s hard to find you online because you have a common name, invest in an SEO campaign revolving around you, or brand yourself with an easier-to-rank alias. Then, get published. Use your recent educational achievement as a campaign platform for press. You can easily brand yourself by making the right media connections and acting as a source. – Logan Rae, Argon Agency
8. Develop An ‘Elevator Pitch’ About Your Career Goals
Spend some time developing a 30-second “elevator pitch” about yourself and your career goals. Your introduction should be interesting, understandable and concise. Include your strengths, interests and the job and/or field you are interested in. Be memorable and prepared to share your contact information. – Brett Hyman, NVE Experience Agency
9. Have A Way To Present Examples Of Your Work
Personal branding is great, but for most roles, particularly during the hiring or scouting process, actually showing your work is going to be a lot more valuable. Develop a portfolio, make a website with work from your college experience or do whatever makes sense for your field. Be sure to incorporate your personal brand into that work for a greater impact. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO
10. Aim To Make Your Brand Personal, Not ‘Right’
Make sure your social media profiles are either professional or private. If you have been curating your personal brand, this had better be prominent in your public social profiles. Furthermore, make your personal brand personal! The world is full of copycats and brand imitators. Don’t feel pressure to make yours “right.” Make it authentic, make it honest and make it yours. – Bernard May, National Positions
11. Know And Speak To Your Strengths And Goals
Know your strengths and play to them; know your goals and get after them. More specifically, speak to them. When our agency performs personal brand research and execution for clients, we build a strategy from their unique strengths and values. We then craft messaging that conveys those strengths and works to achieve their goals. Make sure your online presence showcases your strengths and goals. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative
12. Feature Your Experience More Than Your Personality
Make sure your personal brand isn’t more colorful (or louder) than your experience. It’s great to have a big personality, but it needs to be crystal clear that you’re a serious professional who’s there to learn and has the experience or education to back it up. At the end of the day, companies are looking for team players who are willing to take direction, so make sure you present yourself as that. – April Margulies, Trust Relations
13. Back Up Your Brand With More Than Just Words
Make sure your brand is backed not only by words but also by actual experience. Agencies are looking for well-rounded employees with relevant education who are clear communicators and have done work similar to what is done in the agency. What you look like on your digital profiles, résumé and in person needs to be strong and congruent. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency
14. Be Humble, Hungry And Honest
As you begin your career, you have a ton to learn that you could not learn in college. Your first jobs will be about practical application in the real world, so be willing to do what is needed to bring value to those you work with. Always be authentic and honest in your relationships and exhibit your passion for what you do. Best of luck in your new adventures! – Jason Wilson, Strategy, LLC
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Author: Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member