Brand Yourself!

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Imagine you’ve just finished applying for the perfect job or internship. You want to stand out in a pool of hundreds–possibly thousands–of applicants and an interviewer asks you, “What makes you unique?” A good enough answer could solidify the job and a bad one means you may not have a shot at the position anymore.

In my college career, nothing has helped me more than creating a personal brand for myself. What exactly does that mean?

Creating a personal brand means focusing on your unique, creative skills and interests and applying them to your everyday life (especially when it comes to searching for a job or internship). Personal branding is not always easy. Here are some suggestions for developing your own unique brand and utilizing (and loving!) it:

Figure out your interests. Do you love baseball? Are you a great cook? Are you the friend that all your other friends go to for advice? Everyone has their own skills–it’s just a matter of figuring out what they are. If you’re anything like me, brainstorming is key. Take a notepad or laptop and brainstorm your top 10 favorite things to talk about. Then narrow them down to the top 5. There may be a way to combine them into a unique brand–like an advice-giving friend who also makes baseball-inspired recipes (I’d definitely be interested in that!).

Find your creative outlet. The next step to creating your brand is finding a place to channel your creativity in a fun way (never brand with boredom in mind!). There are so many websites and social media outlets to create your brand. If you love images and want total creative freedom, try a Tumblr account. You’ll be able to post photos, quotes, short blog entries and pretty much anything else in your own special format. Tumblr has grown rapidly over the years–check out a few sample blogs online to see if that’s something you’d be interested in! If you love words, look into Blogspot, WordPress and other traditional blogging outlets to express your thoughts. As a WordPress user, I love how I’m able to showcase the two things I love–writing and photography–side-by-side on my blog. Search for a place where you know you’ll be able to display yourself in a fun, professional and creative way. That’s the best part!

Spread the word! Now that you have your focus and your format, time to spread the message that you have a brand! Use traditional outlets like Facebook, Twitter and e-mail to alert friends and family but also have the bigger picture in mind. Employers love to see links to personal outlets on networking sites like Linkedin. Also, be sure to mention your blog, website and brand on your resumé so you immediately stand out while applying for a job or internship. Don’t forget to update your blog or website frequently after you start–it’s no fun to view an empty blog or a website that hasn’t been updated in almost a year. Keep material fresh!

Hopefully creating a personal brand will be a snap! Best of luck and brand away!