Monday, June 11, 2012

Introductions and Personal Branding

Welcome to our RIT Alumni Virtual Job Club! This 10 week program will allow you to stay connected to fellow RIT job seekers and get information that can help with your job search – all without interrupting your busy summer schedule to come to campus! We invite you to participate fully in the Club; do the assignments, comment on the blog postings, and ask questions of our career experts; we’re all here for your career success. 

We’re going to start this series with a discussion on personal branding, and its importance in your job search. Before you put together your marketing tools – resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile – you should do some self-assessment, to determine what sets you apart from the competition. This then becomes the basis of your personal brand – what you’ll be using to sell yourself to prospective employers, as companies use brands to sell their products (think of Nike and Coke). 

To help determine your personal brand, consider the following:
 • What are your core strengths and areas of expertise? In what areas do you excel? Examples could include performing analysis, leading others, identifying problems, managing conflict, communicating. 
• What have you accomplished; what are your notable achievements? What problems have you solved in previous experiences? 
• What is your value; what do you have to offer employers? Think of the adjectives you use to describe yourself, and think of how others would describe you. Examples: collaborative, flexible, forward-thinking, visionary, genuine, self-aware, creative, efficient. These are your brand attributes.
• What are your weaknesses? Be cognizant of any weak points as you put together your brand. 
• Who is your target audience? Research your targeted industry and career field to determine where you will best fit, and what those companies most want and need in a candidate. You can then include appropriate key words in your branding statement. 
• What differentiates you from your competition? Why should employers choose you over other candidates? What value do you offer, and what can you offer that other candidates can’t? 

Once you’ve determined your personal brand, incorporate the elements above into a concise branding statement that gives a clear summary of your unique and desirable set of qualifications. This statement, and all elements of your personal brand, can now be incorporated into your marketing materials, giving people a consistent message about who you are and what you have to offer. Don’t forget to include your brand in your resume, cover letters, 60-second commercials, interviews, your LinkedIn profile, and when you network with colleagues. Take the time to determine what your brand is, and a branding statement that describes your brand, and you’ll be in a better position to marketing yourself – and your unique value – to your future employers! 

Tell us what you think – have you defined your brand, and developed a strong branding statement? Did going through the process of defining your brand help focus your career interests and help you see how you can better sell yourself? Is your brand clearly reflected in all your marketing materials? If not, start your self-assessment, and work on developing a branding statement that clearly identifies your unique attributes and value. 

Your homework for this week is to first, post below and introduce yourself to the group; tell us who you are, and what your career and job search goals are. Second, share your personal branding statement with the group if you’d like.


  1. I'm Matthew D. Wilson, developer and manipulator of software. That means I enjoy creating and shaping the programs and algorithms that run our daily lives. I've discovered that I'm not well motivated in a commercial business environment and so I'm trying to direct my job search toward the non-profit or governmental arena. I'm finding it slow going, though, due to a long absence from the work force and a lack of relevant references.

    1. Matthew - this comment is from Paul Sigas, an RIT alumnus with over 25 years of experience in the recruiting sector:

      My interpretation is that you are asking for some help in finding a job in the
      not- for- profit or government sectors. If this is true, the very first thing you need to do is to make your intro (like this blog) a positive.

      Let’s eliminate and/or change some like this:

      I'm Matthew D. Wilson, developer and manipulator of software. That means I enjoy creating and shaping the programs and algorithms that run our daily lives.
      My past experience has been………….
      I am seeking opportunities to apply my skills in the not-for-profit or government sectors in areas such as ……………
      In the non-profit sector you will need to do an extensive networking campaign and be patient. A resume update and focus may be in order. If you would like to chat more about networking let us know. I will need someone else to talk about government employment.

      Thanks for writing Mathew.

  2. Hi, I'm Meghan Lima. I'm a recent graduate from RIT in the area of Film/Animation Production with a minor in theatre arts. Right now I am production management intern for a not-for-profit theatre company in CT, but not getting paid right out of the gate makes me worrisome with college loans right around the corner. I would love, more than anything else to work on the production side at an animation company.

  3. Welcome to the virtual Alumni Job Club Meghan and Matthew! We look forward to reading your continued comments and feedback throughout our virtual summer program.

    Have either of you taken a look at your personal brands yet? If so, have you been able to successfully incorporate that into your resume, cover letter and social media sites? When considering my own personal brand, I found it very helpful to review past letters of recommendation and LinkedIn endorsements to see how other people viewed me and what skills and traits rose to the top of their mind when they thought of me. From there I could clearly see what my core competencies were and hone in on those.

  4. Hello everyone, I'm Valerie A. Johnson,"Jack,(actually Jill, of many trades" and "master" of some. I worked for many years as a laboratory technician and then as a Quality Analyst for a major beer company. My experience includes the laboratory analysis, supervising, designing training and training others, leading process improvement projects etc.

    My education includes a BS in Biology, a undergraduate certificate in Quality Management from RIT, a Diploma in Brewing Science and Technology, continuing education certificates in Leadership and Management and Human Resource management; and most recently, an AAS in CIS Web Technology.

    Out of the above, it is somewhat difficult to come up with a single "brand" to incorporate it all. I have been unemployed or underemployed since being downsized in 2009. I have been spending my time tutoring both for money and as a volunteer while finishing up my Web Technology degree.

    I am interested in getting away from the laboratory analysis aspects of my previous experience and focusing on: administration, process improvement, training design and development - especially web base training design.

    I am glad to meet everyone here and am looking forward to our club meetings.

    1. Valerie, you've got a lot of varied interests, which can make a concise branding statement difficult. Have you done some informational interviews with people in your targeted field to get an idea of key qualities? This may help you put things into focus.

  5. Welcome Valerie! We are glad to have you here.

  6. I have neither letters of recommendation nor any LinkedIn endorsements.

    1. This could be a good first assignment for you, Matthew. Think about who you could ask to recommend you on LinkedIn (assuming you have a LinkedIn account). Think about former supervisors, teammates who have worked on projects with you, both at work and in the community (volunteer groups such as the Boy Scouts, and community groups with whom you're involved). If you're not currently involved, this would be a great time to start; it's a good way to make connections. You're interested in the non-profit sector, so volunteering would be a good way to get your foot in the door.

    2. I suggest that if you do not have endorsements yet and have worked in the past, that you should take a look at what your supervisors or other reviewers have said about you on your performance appraisals. I actually summarized some of the comments and used that as a jumping off point for the people who I have asked for endorsements and as a reminder for the people that I list as my references.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Great suggestion Valerie! Past performance appraisals are a great source of information regarding your core competencies.

    5. Mathew,

      This is some good advice. You WILL BE asked to identify references during your job search. So having them available and "preped" is a good idea.
      Also, these people are part of your network and may lead you to your next position. They want to help just need to make it easy for them.
      Performance appraisals are frequently overlooked. Mine these for accomplishments that can then lead to skill identification. They can also provide valuable info on how to answer the "What are your weaknesses?" question.