Landing Your Dream Job: Building Your Brand and Promoting Yourself Online
Recently I spoke to journalism and marketing students at the University of Missouri’s Reynolds Journalism Institute on how they can better market themselves online and even find a job before graduating.
Below is a step-by-step guide for students on how to start doing this. These tactics stem from primary marketing principles so they are proven to work. I incorporated a number of these and landed job offers across the country. I was qualified, had options and bargaining power. I eventually landed my dream job with Performics in Chicago.
The steps below are most fitting for marketing, advertising and communication majors — though the principles can be applied to students who will graduate within other fields, including engineering, accounting and teaching.
Understanding Your Current Digital Presence
Are you currently digitally represented the way you want to be? You’ve submitted your resume and made it through the first round of screening. One thing stands between you and a phone call requesting an interview. What does the company do?
They search for you. Can they find you?
-No. You’re graduating in six months and will have a degree in advertising, yet you’re nowhere to be found. They’ve already lost trust.
-Yes! Your Facebook page, with your timeline picture from Spring Break 2012.
Optimizing Your Digital Presence and Making Yourself Visible
1. Build Your Personal Website.
Building your personal website sounds terrifying. It’s not. It’s affordable and with current tools, you can have a professional experience up with about 10 hours of work. If you want to go the free route, I suggest setting something up on WordPress.com.
2. Populate Your LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is amazing. Search engines trust the website, so you can get your name ranked high within a week — if your profile is 100 percent complete. LinkedIn even has a tool to tell you how complete your profile is.
- Provide as much unique content about yourself as possible. Give details about your experience.
- Ask for recommendations. Ask for an endorsement and provide one in return.
- Connect with others: professors, industry professionals and fellow students.
3. Become the Expert
What experts do you follow? When you search for them, can you find their content and content about them? Write about what you know and what you are passionate about. You’re thinking that you don’t know enough to write about something. That’s false. There is something that you are passionate about or that you know about that you could write about. Knowing even 5 percent more about something than the rest of the population makes you an expert.
4. Find websites that want to host your content. Tools: Blogger Link Up, Blogdash, Guestr.
5. Increase Social Proof
How active are you in your field of expertise? Are you following, participating and engaging with the right people and the right conversations? If not, start participating and watch your Twitter following increase.
1. Follow industry leaders
2. Participate in the conversation
3. Share content as you come across it
4. Provide your commentary and opinions
5. Share your content
Ditch the “Dear Sir or Madam” Cover Letter (And Post Your New Cover Letter On Your Site)
Too often I see LinkedIn profiles, personal websites and Twitter feeds that are so “professional” they become boring and uninteresting. Be entertaining and charismatic. You’re in marketing and advertising, not financial auditing. Give an opinion, crack a joke, provide feedback and be confident. If you’ve heard of companies like Starbucks, Apple and Zappos, you’re familiar with the movement of building a culture.
Your first opportunity to tell a company about who you are, what you do and why they absolutely need you is in the cover letter. In 2010, I came across an article that forever changed my first impression with companies. It was scary to do, but I threw my “Dear sir or madam” cover letter out the window and started over. I owned my name, my experience and confidently put it out there. That week I applied with Target and Reuters and had interviews with both in seven days.
I’ve provided my cover letter here as a resource. Steal it, copy it, use it however you want.
Where do I start?
Do two things this week to start and gain traction. There is a little bit of a learning curve to building a website, and fortunately you have time to work on this. If you do anything this week, populate your LinkedIn and start reworking your cover letter.
Need help? Let’s connect.
If you’re a student and you need help with your LinkedIn profile, creating a killer cover letter or creating content around a topic, I am happy to help. Reach out to me on LinkedIn and let me know where you’re getting held up.
Lauren Bradley works in enterprise level account management at Performics, the first global performance marketing company specializing in search; affiliate and feeds; and social and display channels. Bradley has managed various sized clients and has also co-taught Interactive Techniques: Search Optimization at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. Outside of work, Bradley is heavily involved in SEMPO-Chicago helping with event coordination and is a volunteer for the American Cancer Society and PAWS Chicago. To interact with Bradley, follow her on Twitter at @Lauren_Brdley.