Turn your dull CV into a persuasive marketing tool!
‘Professional branding’ might just sound like recruiter jargon, but it’s actually a very useful tool in your job-seeking journey.
In this current job market, there is tough competition between graduates with similar achievements. To stand out from the crowd you need to market yourself effectively.
You need to understand your unique selling points in order to present your individual skills, abilities and attributes in a clear and distinctive way. In other words, you need to establish a brand for yourself.
What is a brand?
A brand is defined by ipo.gov.uk as: "A sign which can distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors”. It is a clear message and image which people can understand.
For example Apple is a brand. Its unique selling point is offering stylish, high quality technology products that are both innovative and easy to use. People are familiar with the brand and what it represents. And although it has rivals, it stands out from competitors because no other technology brand is quite like it.
Professional branding works on the same principle. As an individual, you have a unique set of skills, qualifications and experiences which could potentially make you stand out from other applicants. When presented together correctly, these individual skills are what make up your brand.
Your CV is the tool by which you can market yourself and your brand to employers. Think of yourself and the other candidates as competing products – your CV should be the packaging which explains what makes you the person worth choosing.
Identifying your brand
Thinking about your unique selling points will help you to create an engaging CV with a clear message.
You should focus on a range of different attributes in order to get a well-rounded perspective on what qualities you have.
Your natural areas
What are you better at than other people? What can you do easily that other people can’t?
Your usual roles
What do you usually contribute to different tasks, for example whilst working, in university, or in your personal interests? Are you a leader? Do you come up with creative ideas? Do people approach you to sort out problems?
What have you excelled in? What awards have you won? What milestones have you reached? What do you really like doing?
How would other people describe you?
Getting some perspective from other people will help you to better understand the personal and professional qualities you have, and how to equip yourself for particular challenges.
Implementing your brand
You will need to build your brand once you’ve identified your strengths and the qualities that you can sell to an employer. Start with your CV and then consider the other ways in which you can publicise yourself. This will result in what is effectively a full-blown marketing campaign for your skills.
Your CV is your branding statement, in which you outline everything that you can offer. Since this is the advertisement for your abilities, it needs to be a well polished document featuring everything an employer might need to know. Everything from the skills you list, to the font you use, is important.
It is vital that you tweak your CVs to suit the job for which you are applying. You need to adjust your marketing campaign so that it brings attention to all the particular skills which might be relevant for that specific position.
Don’t include unrelated information – otherwise the brand will be diluted, and the employer will fail to see what makes you special.
Social media is a great way of cementing your brand. Many employers will search for potential employees on Twitter and LinkedIn before inviting them to interview. You should use this to your best advantage. If an employer can see a clear consistency in how you present yourself across a range of platforms, they will be further assured about the kind of candidate you are.
Social media savvy graduates are increasingly sought across a range of sectors. You can reinforce your brand in who you follow on Twitter, and who you connect with on LinkedIn. If, for example, you’re searching for a job in journalism, it is essential that you demonstrate your ability to network, by forming social media links within the sector.
Progression of your brand
You can take your brand to the next level in a number of ways. A relevant website, blog, email signature or video CV, all of which are consistent with your CV, will add another branded layer to your job-seeking efforts.
It would also be worth producing a compacted version of your CV to use for speculative applications.
And whilst they do not seem to be as popular anymore, it is useful to have business cards to hand out to contacts.