Building Brand “You”

How to stand out in the sea of applicants

As you stare at the supermarket shelves or Amazon listings, what makes a product stand out from the other options? Is it the name, the design of the packaging, stories people tell about the product? What makes you stand out to potential employers—and how do they know about you in the first place? 

Evolving and refining your personal brand is an essential step in selling yourself in the job marketplace—especially one as flooded with applicants as the current one. It involves refining your messaging and personal narrative, packaging your skills and experiences, and networking to get your “product”—that’s YOU—in front of the right “customers.” 

Let’s break it down:

What’s your story?

In every interview you’re going to get the “Tell me about yourself” prompt. It seems easy enough, right?  After all, who knows more about you than … well, you? This is your chance to provide your unique value proposition It’s worth crafting your narrative to ensure it tells the most compelling story possible and connecting the dots for the person or team on the other side of you. Use these questions to guide you:

  • What are some of the most pivotal moments in your life? Why?
  • Who are your biggest champions and how would they describe you?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What skills do you most want to grow?
  • What drives you and how do you leverage that motivation in your daily life?
  • What makes you unique?

How are you packaging yourself?

You’ve always been told not to judge a book by its cover. But we all know: The cover matters! So does the color and messaging of the box on the grocery store shelf and the décor inside a corporate HQ.  Now, we know you are way more complex than a product in the store but some of the concepts are the same. As you apply for jobs, many candidates may have similar skills and education, so you need to find a way to package those skills and elevate them with experiences to stand out. That means, instead of explaining what you do, explain how you do it and what the impact is. By focusing on your accomplishments rather than your responsibilities, you’re providing evidence of how you use your skills to create an impact.

How are you getting seen?

In addition to traditional networking, two other ways to build your brand awareness are through mentorships and informational interviews. The first connects you with a career guide or two to provide guidance, answer questions, and serve as a sounding board as you refine your messaging and packaging. They also can introduce you to others who can provide additional career insights and opportunities. Informational interviews provide two-way benefits. You get more information to feed into your internal databank focused on finding the right fit. Plus you get exposure to potential employers as someone who’s showing initiative beyond the typical applicant sitting home sending in resumes.

Taking time to perfect your story and your packaging, and put yourself out in the marketplace all contribute to building brand “you.” 

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By W. P. Carey Career Services Center
W. P. Carey Career Services Center