The 5-Step Graduate’s Guide to Shaping Your Personal Brand

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Author: Marissa Lyman

It’s college graduation season! Soon, the bright, young minds of tomorrow will be tumbling into the workforce like a flock of lost ducklings. If you’re reading this as a seasoned ‘grown-up’—don’t stop now! The tips below can help you market yourself at any stage in your career, especially if you’ve blocked out what it’s like to be the low (wo)man on the totem pole. But for all the recent grads—congratulations! The tips below will help you navigate your new personal and professional independence by building a solid base for marketing your personal brand.

The transition from college to full-time worker bee or full-time job hunter can be overwhelming. Suddenly there aren’t tests to measure success, all of your friends aren’t a dorm hall away, and there are no guaranteed three-month vacations. It’s easy to feel like everything is beyond your control. That said, while you don’t control the job market, the size of your first paycheck, or your boss’s moods, there is one thing of which you are the sole proprietor: your personal brand.

When it comes to branding, there’s a lot that a new grad can learn from marketers: no matter what the shifting factors are around you, YOU, and only you, are the owner of what messages you release into the world about yourself. And how do marketers make sure these messages resonate? They listen and engage! Whether you’re beginning work days after graduation or starting out funemployed like I was, read on for how to best market your number one asset: YOU.

Step 1: Know Your Audience…and Act Accordingly

There is a time and a place for Grumpy Cat memes, and while my dream is that everyone’s workplace will accept them with open arms (and use them in marketing collateral), that is likely not the case. Get a feel for your environment and your coworkers and respond accordingly. You’ll find that the “professional” world is less buttoned up than you’ve been made to believe, but take your cues from those around you before you come to work in your jammies.

The same goes for social media (though you have more flexibility to wear PJs while posting). Checking your messaging across LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram and adjusting privacy settings accordingly is especially important during the job search. Think of LinkedIn as an ongoing interview with every possible employer, so make sure the image you’re putting out there is a professional one. It’s OK to use Facebook as a personal platform, but within the context that potential employers will likely check you out there as well, now may be the time to untag those misguided freshman year adventures. Twitter makes it easy to keep your posts private, but tweets can also be a great tool for networking and commenting on trends in the industry, which will market you as someone with smarts. Marketers will tell you that nowadays with the strong digital climate, personal branding and social media go hand-in-hand, so make sure to put your best foot forward on every channel.

Step 2: Know What You Don’t Know—Yes, Exactly

“We did no industry research and asked no questions—we just jumped in and started doing things,” said no marketer EVER.

Keep this in mind during your first job: no matter if you double, triple, or quadruple majored, you’re going to encounter things in a corporate setting that you just didn’t learn in school. It might be practical, like your company’s expense system, or it might be political, like an unspoken rule that you’re not supposed to eat any of the food provided during the first 15 minutes of a business presentation. Whatever it is, it’s OK that you don’t know it…yet.

So ask the question, even if you think it’ll give away how green you are. Better to ask and come off as a newb than to make a misstep that makes you look incompetent. Brand marketers know to ask questions and do their research, and you should, too!

Bonus tip: Before you ask, see if Google knows the answer. Google often does.

Step 3: Make Personal (and Professional) Connections

The term “networking” makes me think of awkward corporate speed dating, so I prefer “schmooze”. Schmoozing implies mixing and mingling, witty banter, and the occasional cocktail or canapé (sample networking script: “Why yes, I LOVE duck paté—almost as much as I love working overtime and exceeding expectations”)! It means say ‘yes’ to your local alumni club football tailgate and ‘yes’ to volunteering for a friend-of-a-friend’s charity. And it means ‘yes’ to grabbing a drink with coworkers and ‘yes’ to picking the brains of other professionals from inside and outside of your industry. Most importantly, schmoozing is essential for relationship building and marketing yourself; you’re listening for common interests, points of connection, and professional wisdom. How can the big boss promote you if he or she doesn’t know who you are or that you both share a passion for jazz flute? How can your friend-of-a-friend pass along a potential job opportunity if they’ve never met you and don’t know what an all-star you are? Brand marketing leads to brand recognition, and positive brand recognition leads to positive results.

Step 4: Own It (You)

From applying to jobs to your first major error at work, your personal brand marketing strategy should be built on honesty and ownership. Think of all the companies whose brand crises could have been avoided had they just been transparent about internal practices or apologized for a slip up in a timely fashion.

Imagine yourself as a mini version of the marketing departments at these big brands. No lying on résumés! No making excuses! These sound like no-brainers, but you’d be amazed at how often these simple principles are ignored. In one of my past jobs, I witnessed an exec-level candidate have an offer rescinded because of fabricated credentials, and I also saw an entry-level co-worker admit to having lied about her skill set while interviewing (she was let go a few months later).

Key take-away here: Keep and maintain control of your personal marketing messages by owning your narrative.

Step 5: Ask for Feedback

What do good brand marketers do? They listen to their customers’ wants and needs and adjust accordingly. In the absence of tests or end-of-term projects, it can be hard to measure how you’re doing professionally. For those of you still looking for a job, pass along your résumé to a friend, sibling, or former professor to get honest feedback on how you’re presenting yourself. If you’re employed, ask for general feedback on a regular basis outside of your company’s standard review process. You’ll not only be able to track your progress, but you’ll also come off as proactive and eager to learn. Double win! Goal setting and measuring growth are also two handy things to carry in your toolbox as you work toward one of the magic words of employment: PROMOTION. Other magic words include: Pay Day, Bagel Day, and Work-Sponsored Happy Hour.

So, What Did We Learn?

  • Understand your audience.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know.
  • Connect and engage people every chance you get.
  • Don’t sit on a throne of lies.
  • Proactively track your progress.

And if I can leave you with one more lesson, know that it’s all going to be OK. There aren’t really any wrong answers to your early career decisions; whatever choices you make will have upsides and downsides and a ton of valuable life learnings. Just know that no matter what you choose, you’re still in control of marketing YOU.

What’s your strategy for branding yourself in the business world? Let me know in the comments below!


The 5-Step Graduate’s Guide to Shaping Your Personal Brand was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership. | http://blog.marketo.com

The post The 5-Step Graduate’s Guide to Shaping Your Personal Brand appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.


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The Graduate’s Guide To Blogging

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In terms of bagging yourself a graduate job in the digital industry, writing a blog can be a great way to show a prospective employer your writing style, tone and pitch – all of which could naturally tie in with the writing style of their business.

As a recent graduate entering the world of blogging I understand that writing your first blog can be quite daunting. I know before I started at Bubble Jobs,I read loads of different blogs every day but I was quite nervous about actually plunging in and writing one of them!

I remember my first day as a Digital Marketing Executive and being asked by the lovely Amy (our tech-savvy Digital Marketing Manager) to write a blog about entering the graduate world after finishing University. A slight panicky feeling overcame me at the thought of my very own writing being out there for the world to read (and criticise).

So I thought I would share what I’ve learnt over the past month about writing a blog for the first time. I’m going to give you some honest top tips – follow these and you’ll be on your way to being a fully-fledged blogger in next to no time!

1) Think Of An Eye-Catching Subject

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It’s all well and good wanting to write a blog but if you’ve no idea what you want to talk about, then you’re going to struggle (trust me). Sorry for stating the obvious, but before I got a job I avoided them like the plague because I felt like I had nothing to talk about! But trust me you do!

Have a good think about your experiences you’ve had during Uni or in your job search. You might have some top tips for dealing with exam stress, managing with your work-life balance, planning an essay or creating the best first impression at an interview.

If you manage to get a clear subject to talk about then you’ll find it a lot easier – rather than trying to write a blog about a really general topic that may end up being a little bit boring!

You also need to make sure that it’s relevant; your employer won’t really want to see that you can write about your latest fashion fix or how to win your favourite Xbox game. People do blog about things like this and there’ no harm in it at all – but for the purpose of bagging yourself a job it needs to be relevant! If you’re struggling to find a subject have a look at our blogs and get a feel for what you may be able to blog about.

The Graduate’s Guide To Blogging image shutterstock 1017491502) Find Your Writing Style

Once you’ve found which subject you want to talk about, it’s time for the scary part – writing the dam thing! You need to establish your personal voice, which may be harder than you first thought. Only a few people actually write personal diaries now because we now use social media to express our views and let’s face it; a lot of the time social media is used to express what you’re having for tea that night or what you’re going to do with your friends.

The aim is to be informative yet informal – people don’t want to read a blog that reminds them of their essay they wrote for their boring finals – they want to be amused but also come away from it with some new information.

So try and use an engaging tone that the reader can relate to, because most of the time someone is reading your blog because they can empathise with what you’re writing about! So make it concise, informal, interesting and bursting with information. This is something that I found quite difficult to start with but trust me you get better as you go along.

3) Find Your Blogging Platform

You’ve written your blog and now you need somewhere to put it. There are a few options to choose from but you want to try and make your life as easy as possible when you’re first starting out. At Bubble we use WordPress – this is a straight forward platform that makes the process as simple as possible for you. But have a look round and see what platform suits you – Blogger.com and WordPress are probably the platforms for you if you’re a newbie though.

4) Give It A Punchy Title And Meta Description

Unfortunately not every man and his dog are going to be waiting eagerly for you to post something – so you need to get people to click on your post. You can do this by giving it a title with exactly what your blog is about. Think of key words that a reader may type into Google and try to base your title around those words.

Also you need to make sure you have an amazing Metadescription! Now, now don’t panic – a Metadescription is dead straightforward – it’s simply a tag that is used to describe your blog in short form and is used by Google in the organic search results. Make sure it’s short, snappy and to the point – you want people to be able to scan it and get the idea of what your blog is about straight away.

5) Use Tags

When I first saw that tags were used I was a little bit overwhelmed because I only had a basic knowledge of search engine optimisation (SEO) at that point. But don’t worry, it’s really quite simple – tags are used to group together similar content to your blog and also help people find your blog.

Have a read through your blog and think about what someone would search for in Google to find your blog. For example if you’re writing a blog about what to expect in an interview you could create tags that say ‘interview tips’ and ‘interview techniques’. If you want to know a bit more about SEO have a look at our post that gives you ten quick SEO tips.

6) Get Your Blog Out There

We now live in a world where communication is at our finger tips – so use it! Share your blog on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google + and Twitter. This way you’ll get more people reading your blog – and not only will this make you feel pretty good, it will allow you to get some feedback too!

There are also lots of different sites that allow you to be a guest blogger – these websites will have an established following already and if you can put your blog on there you could get yourself more coverage. So do some research and have a look at the different paths you can go down! Check out our blog on how to approach guest blogging requests.

Right so there you go… the beginners guide to writing a blog. Find your voice and get writing – but don’t expect your first blog to be perfect – practice makes perfect. Good luck and have fun!


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