Reader Request: Your Personal Brand

Happy Wednesday, everyone! After sharing a small glimpse into my career in this post a few weeks ago, I received a request from the most caring mom of 4 boys that I've enjoyed getting to know over the past few months through our weekly emails. One of her sons will be graduating from college in May so she asked if I could provide insight into what recruiters and organizations are looking for in recent graduates? In addition, what could her son do right now to set himself apart from everyone else?

Knowing that my passion is university recruiting, I was thrilled to share my thoughts with her and each of you as well. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I would be happy to help in any way!

ONE. Develop your personal brand
Developing your personal brand is vital to your success. In today's marketplace, it's tough to stand out. I can promise you that good grades and lots of extracurricular activities won't guarantee that you'll land the job that you have been dreaming about for the past 5 years.

Many people ask me, what is your personal brand? It is your reputation. It's about sharing who you are to what you do and how you do it. It's what you're known for and how people experience you. When you are interviewing think of these four questions and try to share your answers throughout the entire interview process -

  • What are your unique strengths, skills and attributes?
  • What will make you stand out in the eyes of potential employers (among the sea of interested candidates)?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • How do you choose the career that's right for you?

TWO: Your first impression
We all know how important your first impression can be in a variety of circumstances but it is extremely important during the interview process. I recently read an article on LinkedIn that stated, "33% of bosses know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone." WOW.

THREE: Be prepared
As a Recruiter, I can say with confidence that the biggest and most common mistake made during interviews is not being prepared. You have to conduct research on the company, understand the role that you are interviewing for in great detail and be able to review and explain the qualifications that you have for the particular role.

I recommend thoroughly researching the company, which means more than just the company website. Some of my favorite tools for this type of research are LinkedIn's Company Profiles and Glassdoor. Then, put your search engine to work to try to find information about the following areas -

  • What is their company's reputation?
  • Who are their competitors? 
  • How is the organization doing financially?
  • What are their leading products, solutions or services?
  • How does the company present themselves online or in their social media outlets?

Having all this knowledge will set you apart from the pack and allow you to ask meaningful questions that will lead you to the right company.

FOUR: Be cautious of time
A study was conducted by a group of Career Development teams across the country, they found that the average length of an interview is approximately 40 minutes. During the interview, you have to ensure that you highlight ALL that you have to offer. For students that includes -

  • Coursework {and projects within the courses}
  • Professional Experience {part-time, summer, internship, or volunteer experience}
  • Technical Skill Sets {technical in regards to your particular concentration/major}
  • Leadership 
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Hobbies and Passions
  • Unique Attributes 

FIVE. Be able to speak to your resume
Your resume is a critical piece to your personal brand. Take time to make sure it is p-e-r-f-e-c-t. Every company, recruiter, and hiring manager receives hundreds upon hundreds of resumes for each role so make sure it is easy to follow, it encompasses every detail of who you are, and that every detail/bullet point adds value.

Once you have been selected to interview, you should be prepared to briefly explain your experience in approximately 1-2 minutes. Consider these few minutes, your personal elevator pitch. After your elevator pitch, you want the person interviewing you to already know that you are a rock star! Because if you aren't then I promise, I will find someone that is.

As the interview continues to progress, you will want to feel comfortable expanding on any {and all} details that have been listed on your resume.

SIX: Don't always focus on you
I know that we have all heard it a million times over the years but it is the truth...
When you interview, I highly recommend that you take time to learn about the interviewer. You will be surprised at the amount of information that you can take away about the team dynamic, company culture, work environment, etc. when you ask just a few questions about the person sitting across from you.

SEVEN: Interest, Enthusiasm and Passion
There are two quotes that always stand out to me when I think about showcasing your interest, enthusiasm and passion during the interview and throughout your entire career. I challenge students that I meet every day on-campus or at our recruiting events to find a job that makes you excited to get up every morning! You are going to spend a large portion of your life working so make it count.
EIGHT: Ask for the job
Many applicants think that submitting an application, writing a cover letter, and showing up for the interview is known as "asking for the job." WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. You have to reiterate your interest in the job as often as you can during the interview process because it is the only way that we know that you are truly interested.

At the end of the interview state that "I feel confident that my experience, skill sets and passion would be a good fit for the job and I would be like to learn more about the next steps in the interview process." Bam! You asked for the job.

But it doesn't stop there. Make sure you collect contact information from each person that you spoke with so you can follow-up within 24 hours with a personalized thank you note. Don't hesitate to ask who is the best person to stay in touch with during the post-interview process so you can continue to express your interest in the role once you leave the interview.


  1. I'm so proud of you. What well-written insight that's applicable for everyone... entry-level, mid-level, and experienced job seekers. Thanks for the wonderful reminders and spot-on leadership on this topic. XO, Big Sis

  2. Awesome tips!! Really enjoyed reading this and I'll definitely send this over to my little sister who is working on trying to get an internship this summer!

  3. Awesome tips!! Really enjoyed reading this and I'll definitely send this over to my little sister who is working on trying to get an internship this summer!

  4. These are excellent tips...that's a really fascinating statistic about how quickly bosses know whether they want to hire someone (though, I guess that's about the same amount of time it took me when I was single to realize whether I'd like to go on a second date with someone, haha!).

  5. This is such a great post and so helpful for kids getting ready to enter that phase of life!

  6. This is so wonderful of you to share all your knowledge!!! I know many many people will find this useful!

  7. These are great!! I love number 8 because it seems so obvious but it's hard to remember to do that blatantly. And that info about the time is great! I haven't ever heard that before!

    Sara Kate Styling

  8. This is so good and can really be applied to all kinds of situations! Bookmarking this for future use!!


Thank you for following along! Your comments make me smile. Xo, Stephanie