A Personal Branding Campaign Is Vital For College Seniors & Graduates
Have you ever wondered what was the exact number of job applications you’ve completed, that have never received any attention or have gotten a reply? If I had to estimate it, the number of applications for me would be over 120. Searching for a new job can be a very depressing process, especially for recent college graduates who need to pay off their student loans and want to start an independent life. The value of a college degree still stands, but it is steadily declining each year.
There are more than 2.8 million college graduates entering the workforce this year alone. That’s only a small fraction of the competition you’ll have to deal with if you factor in the rest of the citizens that are also competing for your dream job (or any job for that matter). So, what can someone do to help increase his or her chances of employment in today’s noisy job search environment?
The Hiring Process
I dread job hunting simply because of all the deterrents that exist that stop me from becoming employed. For starters, there are resume tracking systems that allow hiring managers (at large corporations such as Twitter, Apple, and Google) to sift through thousands of applicants so that only 10 to 20 resumes ever end up on their desks. And get this—the very first thing a hiring manager does today before they even view your resume, is Google your name. That means that online reputation management is now more important than ever before.
Every one of us produces content on a daily basis, whether it is a status update, video, or a photo and all of it is being indexed the very moment we post it (and it never gets removed). Think about it; your name is a keyword that is going to have all the relevant content related to it readily available when someone searches you. Remember that photo you took at your spring break party that you deleted after posting it by accident? It’s still in Google Search’s archives. But don’t fret, there are things you can do that can help you increase your job hunt success!
Why do you need to build your personal brand?
First impressions are no longer made based on face-to-face interactions. Before you are even invited to an interview, you need to pass the “online tests” that are imposed on you. Hiring managers are supposed to acquire the best potential team members possible. To make a good impression, you need to create and manage your own personal brand. Sadly, LinkedIn is not enough to show whom you truly are. Not only as the ideal employee but also, as a really amazing person. Your personal brand needs to be a combination of your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and most importantly your very own personal website (ideally, firstnamelastname.com).
The question that you need to ask yourself before you even apply for a job is “what is my value proposition?” thinking through the eyes of an employer. If you do not present yourself online as someone who can provide added value to their company, they will not waste their time interviewing you. They must ensure that your personality is a good match for whatever team you are applying to join.
There are college students that have honors, several awards, are a part of many clubs and organizations and have completed many internships. At the end of the day, you will always be in competition for the jobs you apply for, so you need to add as many key advantages as possible to get yourself in front of the employment line. It’s time you leverage your online presence to stand out from the crowd.
How to build your personal brand
The first thing you must consider is that resumes aren’t as important as what a potential employer sees online. The most important thing you must do is create a website. You don’t need to learn how to code to create one now; there are many content management systems that can allow you to post content and design your website very quickly (such as SquareSpace and WordPress). The biggest investment you can ever make as a college student is buying a domain and hosting your website.
I have had my website for almost a year now, and it has allowed me to show who I am as a young professional in a much grander way than a resume ever will. What you should think about is how you are currently conveying to an employer (and everyone else), who are you and what makes you so unique. Why are you more of a potential asset to the company than the other thousand applicants who applied last month?
If I were hiring someone, and I saw two resumes with the same skills, job experience, and degree (even though GPA or school doesn’t bring much merit anymore), if one candidate had a website, and the other didn’t—I would definitely giving the first interview to the applicant who has their own site.
What Employers Want To See
Considering that a degree is no longer the only thing needed for your professional success, there has to be something else that you can do to increase your chances of landing the right job. The key to doing so is leveraging what you already use every day: the Internet.
In our culture, all of our attention is now focused on our mobile devices, so we must know how to use this to our advantage. The purpose of creating a personal branding campaign that includes a website, great LinkedIn profile, other Social Media channels, and a resume that speaks to an employer is to show your value proposition. The key to success after college and beyond is to consistently showcase (online) why anyone should give a damn about you.
Building these things is fairly easy; the main issue is committing your time to get these things done. If you aren’t being hired for the job, someone else will be!
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