Entering the world after graduating college can be scary. There are so many new things to worry about, the biggest of which is landing your first job. One way to make that burden a little easier on yourself is to amp up your personal brand.
When you make the transition from college student to recent grad, your brand needs to reflect the change. Here are the aspects of your brand you need to consider during the transition:
Define your goals
Up until this point in your career, your goals have been short-term: gain new skills and land an internship. After graduation, the game changes. Now the goals you’re chasing are more long-term and involve landing a “real” job. Your brand needs to reflect this change.
Think, where do you want to be in the next few years? Was the first thought in your mind a city, company, industry, type of job, or something else entirely? Whatever the case may be, decide where you want to go and make sure your brand expresses this desire. Use your brand outlets like your resume and social media to explicitly explain these goals.
Highlight your best qualities
The next step is to figure out your best skills and accomplishments that will help you achieve your new goals. Think about all of your experiences during college. Between classes, internships, volunteering, and student organizations, you have put together a lengthy list of strengths to add to your resume. Decide which of these qualities make you unique. What combination of your skills and accomplishments sets you apart?
Once you determine your best qualities, you need to integrate them into your brand. Make sure your name becomes associated with them. For example, Jane is the one who writes blogs about animals, or Jack is the guy who led a group of volunteers on a huge project in the city. You want to become known for what you have done, so potential employers can imagine what you will do for them.
Evaluate your outlets
Now you need to implement your goals and strengths into every outlet you have. Your social media profiles, personal website, resumes, cover letters, and even your look are all part of your personal brand. Incorporate your post-grad ideals into all of these outlets.
For example, you need to update your goals in every personal summary you’ve ever written. Your Twitter, LinkedIn, and blog bios, your cover letters, and the personal information on your website all need to reflect your post-college desires.
Additionally, you need to make sure to emphasize those qualities we talked about throughout these outlets as well. Your prime accomplishments should be discussed in your cover letters, written about on your website, and broken down in your resume. If you want to be remembered by potential employers, you need to engrain these things into every aspect of your brand.
Boost your network
Finally, there is one piece of the post-grad brand update that you will hear for the rest of your career: networking. Now that your livelihood actually depends on your job search, you need to make sure to build a strong network to help you succeed.
It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and actually reach out to professionals who can help you land a job. Think about the goals you selected. Target people to network with based on those goals. Reach out to people in your ideal city, company, or industry.
A great way to start reaching out is to think about the connections you already have. Does anyone you know already know someone in that city or company? If so, ask them to introduce you. Another route is to tap into the alumni network of which you are now a member. College grads love to help other grads from their alma maters. Take advantage of this by reaching out to fellow alumni in your ideal companies.
Once you’ve gone through the easier networking routes, you can also take it a step further by reaching out into uncharted waters. LinkedIn makes this really easy. Find someone who works where you want to work and ask to connect with them. Explain that you’re a recent grad and you’d like to learn more about their job at X company. You’d be surprised how many people are happy to connect with you just because you asked.
Stepping into the world after college graduation doesn’t have to be the most frightening experience of your life. If you take a step back and evaluate your goals, skills, and network, it will be much easier to set yourself up for success.
What advice would you give to recent grads for amping up their brands?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.