Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Students: Building Your Personal Brand For A Career In Sales And Marketing

Marketing and sales students – this post is just for you!

With leaves changing to fall colours, many companies have been hitting campus with gusto to find the best seniors for upcoming internships and new grad jobs.

The competition on campus between employers is getting hot as the economy picks up and companies’ hiring numbers increase. A shift is starting, where students will have more power as the number of jobs available increases; however, we aren’t quite there yet. As a student, it is important to play a lead role in choosing your first job out of school and selling yourself to your employer(s) of choice.

Your personal brand

You need to build your personal brand as a sales and marketing student because potential employers want to see that you can apply the basic principles of marketing. If you can’t sell or market yourself, why should they trust you to market or sell their products and services?

First, do a branding exercise to understand your unique value to a future employer. Think about how you present yourself both in person at company campus recruiting events or interviews, and in online spaces.

Things you should evaluate include:
·         How you dress
·         The language you use
·         How you can showcase specific accomplishments
·         How you come across to employers – do you seem credible/real?

Your personal brand - online

Your online personality should mirror how you come across in person. Ensure that, if your future employer seeks you out on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, there is consistency in the things you say you are knowledgeable about or roles you played in extra-curricular activities.

Things like LinkedIn recommendations are very valuable, especially with LinkedIn launching a new student profile option.

In sales and marketing, future employers will likely perform a social media search on their top candidates – think of this as a “reference check.” Make sure that you hide information that future employers don’t need to see (e.g., Facebook photos) and remember that social media is PERMANENT. 

Your personal brand – in person

For in in-person events, network and showcase your personality as well as your interests and skills.

Marketing and sales is a lot about a “fit” in being personable, believable and coachable. When I interview for entry-level marketing roles, I look more for a strong personal impression than wide sales/marketing experience – I can teach you how to be successful, but I can’t teach you how to think critically or have personal credibility.

I want you to highlight your interests, where you think the industry is going, recent highlights at my specific company, and why you believe you fit the company culture. Show you spent some time researching my company online, even talking to past interns or employees, and understanding our culture.

Don’t treat every networking session, interview or online application the same. Most recruiters are very open to telling you the unique parts of their company, so talk to them and ask for a follow-up prep call prior to an interview.

If you don’t meet a recruiter on campus, reach out to them via LinkedIn. Recruiters will highlight great candidates’ applications if you wow them. Consider this reach-out like dating – you only have one opportunity to make that perfect impression that might lead to a relationship (or in this case, a fantastic career)!

Students: As I am now a regular contributor to TalentEgg.ca (Canada's leading job site and career resource for students and new graduates), I will be featuring monthly articles written specifically for students on my blog. I would love your thoughts on what you want to hear about! Please comment below to drive future articles.

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