Whether You’re Going for a First Job at a Fast-Food Restaurant or an Internship at a Lawyer’s Office, You Need a “Brand” to Stand Out From the Competition
Let’s face it, in today’s economic situation there’s going to be even more competition than usual for entry-level or “first” jobs. If there are 20 teens, for example, applying to the same one job, how can you increase your chances of being the one teen hired?
By creating a unique brand that sets you apart from the other job applicants.
What’s a brand? It’s a public persona composed of pieces of information about you that are all on what we writers call “the spine of the story.”
Confused? Let’s take an imaginary teen, Joan, who wants a job for this summer before going to college in the fall. She applies at Pearl Fine Art Supplies, whose tagline is “the world’s largest discount art supplier.” (FYI: That tagline is Pearl’s brand – positioning that sets Pearl apart from other art supply stores.)
Joan has the usual teen resume: she’s babysat for the neighbor’s kids, gotten good grades in high school, and had an unpaid internship at a local veterinarian. What could possibly make her different than the other 19 high school graduates applying for the same summer job?
It just so happens that Joan decided to apply to Pearl because Joan has a love for drawing. She’s been a frequent customer of this particular Pearl store, where she buys drawing paper, color drawing pencils, and frames for her artwork.
Now this is not likely to be information that will appear on the resume she’s handing in at Pearl. So what can she do with this information to create a brand for herself and stand out from the other job applicants?
She can take one of the Pearl drawing sheets and cut it to the same size as her resume. Then she can do a color-pencil sketch of a scene from the inside of Pearl and sign her name and date the drawing before attaching the drawing to her resume.
Next she can attach one additional sheet of paper with some of her observations from being a regular Pearl customer for her art supplies. (The attached drawing demonstrates that she really does drawings.) She might include praise for the times the employees have helped her find what she’s looking for, and a constructive comment that she wishes the drawing pencils were more clearly labeled to help price-comparison shopping.
Joan has now created for herself a brand as an art supplier consumer who has thoughtful insights into Pearl’s products and product displays.
If you were the local Pearl store’s hiring manager for the one summer job opening, who would you hire? One of the 19 teens, all with almost identical resumes, or the one teen who has demonstrated clearly that she knows and cares about art supplies?
Now obviously if Joan had applied for a summer job at a sports store, she couldn’t use this brand, and she might not have anything in her areas of interest that could fit a sports store brand.
So what’s your first step? To figure out what your brand can be (you might have more than one potential brand if you have varied interests).
Your second step? To apply to jobs (or internships) where that brand can help you stand out from the competition.
If you follow these recommendations to create your own brand appropriate for the job to which you are applying, you should have a much better chance of getting that first job or internship this coming summer, regardless of the economic situation.
This is a guest post from Phyllis Zimbler Milller, the president of Miller Mosaic LLC, an online marketing company that helps book authors and small businesses build a brand through utilizing a marketing-focused website. You can access more of her articles at http://www.millermosaic.com