Who are you? What are you? Why do you add value to this company?
You’ve got a few options here; look doe-eyed, glance behind you, and back again, and exclaim ‘Who me?’ with a perfectly rehearsed look of surprise. You can avert your eyes; avoid the question, and commando roll out of there. ANYTHING!
Or you could take a minute, think about your answers, and pray for a phone-a-friend option. For my elevator pitch party, and all-star academic wizards of the university sphere: AM I RIGHT?
These are the questions that haunt me. They taunt me during irregular verbs in Spanish class, they slide down the bannister on the way to Admin Law, they’re my neighbours on the bus and full time flies on the wall of my bedroom.
These are the questions that I’ve been told will help me form my own personal brand. A personal brand is shaped by many factors, some more tangible than others and is continually evolving.
The tangible players are things like our appearance, presentation, body language, and include our physical achievements like the degrees we study or awards we have won. Each have their own connotation, perceived by others in a particular way. The intangible contributors are our engrained values, personality, and behaviours. It’s about the way you make people feel, the way you conduct yourself in different environments and whether these will contribute to the ‘cultural fit’ of a workplace.
Upon first encounter, a double degree in Law and Communications plus a Diploma in Spanish sounds complex but exciting. Each aspect implies their own essence of achievement, creativity, dedication, and future prospects. However, it is often the divided pursuit of many interests that can reflect negatively on the efficiency and productivity of students during their studies. University is a breeding ground of choice. The exposure to different activities, cultures, and work experience facilitate an active student life providing countless opportunities. It’s a process of trial and error, tailoring your life to include your ‘passionate’ interests and the ‘right’ interests.
Chloe, a third year Communications/Law student and part time advertising consultant confesses she feels overwhelmed by the idea of condensing all her personal values, interests, and achievements into a succinct personal brand.
"The problem I have with personal branding is being confused by which interest to promote and which not, because to me they are all important yet they are sometimes conflicting".
The Demtel Man and infomercial king, Tim Shaw evidences personal branding in a practical sense:
“If the buyer doesn’t trust the seller of the product or message, however valuable it may be, they will not buy it!”
He emphasises the importance of honesty, integrity, personality and passion. “You’ve got to have a firm handshake, eyeball your client and know everything about your product – would you buy what you are asking others to buy?”
The same applies to employment opportunities and the value you will add to a workplace. If you make it past the first stage of five-second resume scanning (your super GPA and love of meerkats WOWED the recruiter), it’s time to start preparing answers to these questions. Have you researched the company you’re applying for? What are their key values and mission statement? Do they align with your own personal brand?
Perhaps a good start is to look at yourself in the mirror, pretend you’re the employer and ask ‘What’s in it for me?’
Note: Keep an eye out for Personal Branding and Networking Seminars run by UTS Careers and advertised by all faculties. They are free to all students and provide industry knowledge and practical tips for acing your employment prospects.
By Claudia Neal-Shaw