Those of you who have been following along with my tips and resources for personal branding know that there’s one last piece to go: having talked about the concept in general and then focused on both in-person conversations and an online presence, I today want to concentrate on establishing your personal brand on paper.
You round out your personal brand by highlighting your qualifications in writing, mostly by showing involvement in extracurricular activities relevant to your purpose/passion, showcasing volunteer experiences and giving evidence of paid work positions you have held. You generally achieve this through cover letters and your resumé. Now, I won’t give you specific tips on how you can create the best resumé or the best cover letter — there are plenty of resources online for you to refer to, and, as always, York’s Career Centre has a lot of in-person assistance to provide in that regard as well. Registering for one of their upcoming two-hour workshops on the topic (held November 8, November 24 or December 6) will surely propel your skills forward. What I will give you here, however, is advice on how to become meaningful on paper.
One of the most important things to do when creating a cover letter or resumé is tailoring: it is very important that you find, and enhance, the unique feature, the particular twist, of each job or extracurricular activity to which you apply. I know from personal experience that this can be hard to do, especially when you are applying to multiple similar positions.
For a cover letter, I recommend that you make a personal connection. Try to find the name of the person to whom you are writing, instead of simply addressing it “to whom it may concern” or the “hiring manager”. Of course, I recognize this is not always possible, but you should at least make an effort to try and find out. You might also think of whether you have any connection to the person to whom you are writing, or their company. Have you perhaps been to one of the company’s conferences or events? Have you used their products or services? Do you know someone who works in the company who can speak to your skills and character? These things can all make a difference!
For your resumé, I recommend that you create a longer base piece that includes everything you have accomplished. For the accomplishments, make sure you are:
- Steering away from simply relaying job duties/responsibilities;
- Quantifying as much as you can;
- Being as specific as possible, using concise but vibrant language;
- Adding how you have made an impact in a particular activity.
When the time comes to apply to a position, consult its requirements and duties and use those to narrow your base resumé to a focused and specific one. Then, if appropriate, add some creative touches. For example, when applying to the position of writer for the YUBlog, I realized the importance of graphic design for this role. Instead of sending in a standard black-and-white document, I used a software to create a coloured and aesthetically appealing graphic resumé and cover letter.
I also recommend getting someone to look at your paper assets. I had my base resumé edited by numerous people who had varying skill sets and who knew me from various parts of my life. It allowed me both to avoid silly mistakes and to receive multiple perspectives on improving my resumé.
Another paper asset I recommend is a business card. Remember when I mentioned the elevator pitch and the exchange of contact information? Not only does a business card make these interactions more efficient but it also helps you build your personal brand. My personal business card is grey and white, with a few graphic elements to help it stand out. I received many compliments on the appearance of my card, in addition to often being remembered by people as the “young women with the nice business card.”
I hope that the preceding series of post has helped you understand what a personal brand is and how you can create and market your own. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a brand vision and how much it has helped me personally. With that said, it is also very important to remember that your personality already exists and that a personal brand simply means transferring this unique personality into a package you can present to others. Your personal brand is not something you should be creating or fabricating in hopes that it will resonate with others. It should simply provide a way to express and showcase your genuine self.
Have any questions or further ideas? I’d love to hear from you! You can comment below or reach out at @YorkUStudents with the #YUBLOG.