Viewpoints: Marketing Yourself
College of Business
There are many on-campus career related events coming up in the next two months that are ideal opportunities to promote your skills and experience as well as to connect with employers. In order to take full advantage of what these events offer, it's wise to present yourself in the best way possible. As you plan your success strategy, keep in mind the art of marketing yourself is more than printing out a resume on impressive paper, wearing a professional suit and showing up.
I’m guessing you have already been told by several people across campus that you should attend at least one of the upcoming career events and maybe you have taken that advice to heart. But, have you thought about what you do to get ready beforehand and what you’ll do when you get there? Do you know what you will say and who you will talk to? Above and beyond what you will be wearing, there are many things to consider and work on before setting foot in such an event.
A lot of what I am writing about refers to the branding of oneself. While it is never too early to build your professional brand, the sooner you think about it, the better your chance of success when it comes to job searching. If you are a first-year student, never fear. You have a little more time to think about and develop your brand. As a graduating senior, a review of what you can bring to the table will positively assist you in your job search efforts.
So, how do you promote yourself? Creating your personal brand is one method. Personal branding has everything to do with your image and how you present yourself. Firstly, throw modesty out the window! Many job seekers ask me if it is okay to brag about themselves on their resumes and in an interview. My response? Definitely! Although it’s not exactly bragging, but simply speaking confidently about yourself. This is branding. Branding is how you set yourself apart from others who have similar skills, education and experiences. Feedback from recruiters tells us that many job seekers don’t promote themselves enough.
One of the foundational ways to promote yourself is with your resume. Your resume, otherwise known as your marketing piece, is crucial to your success in finding a job. A resume should showcase your spectacular experiences. It should go without saying, but make sure someone you trust looks over your resume for any typographical errors. Recruiters are turned off by a resume with any kind of mistakes. Having another set of eyes reviewing your resume is therefore greatly to your advantage.
Have a professional review it for content. Is the information relevant to the type of work for which you are applying? Let’s say you want to work in an accounting firm or an advertising agency, but you only have lifeguarding experience. You'll want to give some thought to other experiences – inside and outside of the classroom.
Another way to promote yourself is to be prepared and knowledgeable about the company you want to talk with. Attending a Career Fair event where there are many organizations means you’ll need to set aside time for research. Research? Sounds like homework, doesn’t it? Well, you're right! Preparing to market yourself takes work and is very similar to getting ready for a test... only, you already know the questions. Make sure you find out what the company does, where they are located and what type of positions they typically hire. You run the risk of major embarrassment and a poor impression if you ask the company: “So, what do you do?” or “Are your offices in Iowa?” You can easily find this information on their website or by talking with current or former employees.
Now that you've done your research, what do you say? My suggestion is to utilize the information from your research with your introduction. Tell the recruiter your name, major (or area of interest) and why you came to talk to them. Keep it professional. Express your knowledge of the organization, why you are interested in the company or position, relate your background to the organization, and be open, honest, and enthusiastic.
All of this sounds something like: “Hi, my name is Tammy. I will be graduating this spring and I’m interested in human resources. I’ve had a couple of internships in Human Resources and when I researched your company, I saw that you have openings in the rotational program. Could you tell me a little more about that program?” A genuine smile and shining personality doesn’t hurt either. At this point in the conversation, it is a good idea to offer your resume if they haven’t already asked for it. Before you move on, ask the recruiter what the next step is. Don’t be afraid to ask: “When should I expect to hear something?” or “Would it be appropriate for me to follow up with you in a week?” This opens the door for you to get their contact information and utilize it for follow up.
Oh, and remember that professional suit I talked about at the beginning? Wear it! I’ve seen t-shirts, baseball hats, pajamas and prom dresses at career fairs. Don’t go there. Dress as if you were attending an interview. This is your first impression on the employer and you want to look professional. You will stand out, in a positive way, if you dress appropriately. Recruiters will be able to tell you’ve done your homework and know how to successfully promote yourself.
Tammy Stegman is a Career Coordinator in the College of Business Career Services office at Iowa State University.
For More Information
For information on all career-related events happening on the Iowa State University campus, please contact the Career Services office for your college. A listing of the individual offices can be found at: http://www.career.iastate.edu