Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that one of the top recurring mistakes candidates keep making in the interview process is giving the same old canned answers that they THINK potential employers/recruiters/managers want to hear. And they’re wrong.
See, if you really want to get hired, (and I’m going to take a shot in the dark here and guess that you do), you have to strike a fine balance between telling them what they want to hear without sounding like a drone, and letting your personality and unique “brand” shine through.
Talking about how badly you want to work for the company or stroking their ego by calling them ‘amazing’, ‘cutting edge’ and ‘innovative’, while it’s a nice compliment, won’t do anything to get you the job, because it doesn’t tell them anything they don’t already know. They know who they are. But what they want to know is who you are, and what you can do for them. It’s okay to reiterate your interest in the organization – that’s important – but not quite as important as making a clear and relevant connection between your skills and experience, and the objectives and needs of the role and the organization.
So what do I mean by “personal brand” in a career sense? The same thing that I do when I talk to my creative small business clients. And if you’re a creative already, then you already know plenty about brands. But I’m going to reiterate anyway, so bear with me.
Your Personal Brand: A unique message that gives the other party an idea of who you are, what you bring to the table in terms of your skills and experience, why you are unique, and why what you have is of value to them.
Here’s my personal brand: “I’m a creative soul who has always been passionate about art, creativity and how those things interface with who we are professionally. My experience working with creative professionals and with small businesses has helped me combine and focus my expertise on helping other entrepreneurs and creatives build businesses and careers that resonate with who they are on an artistic and personal level.”
So you can see how it’s apparent 1) who I am on a personal level as it relates to what I do professionally, 2) what I’m bringing to the table in terms of my experience and skill working with a particular target audience, 3) how I am unique in terms of my business and my focus, and how I plan to use it to help others, and 4) the value that I bring to those people in terms of helping them strike a personal-professional balance as entrepreneurs and creative professionals.
Many people make the mistake in the interview process of feeling like they should hold back in fear of being overly honest, of seeming cocky or overly confident, and err on the side of being safely modest. I wouldn’t doubt that inexperienced (and even some experienced) entrepreneurs do the same thing – hence why 50% of small businesses fail in their first year.
If you’re too embarrassed, insecure or modest to communicate your value and sing your own praises when your target audience is staring you in the face, no one is going to want to hire you because they won’t understand the value that you have to bring to the table.
Your job as the interviewee is to tell them, in a professional, straightforward, confident (but not cocky) manner, why they should hire you. Because if you don’t tell them, how else will they know? That’s what your personal brand is all about – positioning yourself positively as unique, as valuable, and as someone they must have on their team!
So start here with some practice (and you never know who will see it and want to chat…). Comment and tell me about your personal brand – who are you, what are you bringing to your role, what makes you unique, and what irresistible value are you keeping from the rest of us who would love to have someone like you on our team?
The venue is all yours…
About the Author: Dana Leavy founded Aspyre Solutions, focusing on small business development and career consulting. Her mission is to support creative and socially-conscious small businesses, through career transition coaching and business consulting for creative professionals and entrepreneurs.
Dana has helped hundreds of professionals in advertising, marketing, design and other industries execute effective career plans to find and DO the work they are passionate about. She has presented seminars on navigating careers, transition and work-life balance to several colleges and universities, and her advice has been featured on MSN Careers, Fox Business News, NewsDay, CareerBuilder.com, GlassDoor and About.com.