Improve your Personal Brand — for students!

By Ayman Siraj ‘18

Winter Break is almost upon all of us. At this point, some of us are steaming ahead studying for finals. While for many of us, the thought of getting on the flight back home is enough to keep us from studying efficiently. Whichever boat you maybe on, the festive season brings with it a sense of reinvigoration. How does the college student make for a productive holiday? Here are five suggestions on how you can work on self-branding over the holidays:

LinkedIn Profile Makeover

LinkedIn is the holy grail of proving yourself to the professional world. It is where potential employers go to check out applicants or scout out talent. It is imperative that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, just as much as your Snapchat story is updated! Okay maybe not that updated, but you should think of LinkedIn as a live update of your professional pursuits and as such should update whenever there is an event in your professional ambitions that show you are a more qualified candidate. Most of us scramble to improve our LinkedIn profiles before recruiting season begins and often that is not the most thought out representation.

This infographic is a great step by step process on how to make sure your LinkedIn profile is as shiny as a new Ferrari. It should take the best part of about 1.5–2 hours to give your LinkedIn profile the makeover it deserves.

This how your LinkedIn Profile should be rated by the end of your makeover.

Build a Personal Website

The job market is competitive and at a competitive school like USC, that competition is amplified even more with so many qualified candidates. How do you set yourself apart? A personal website is a great place to start. A personal website is the best way for personal branding! You can customize a website to your desired profession, unlike LinkedIn which is just a standard format. Are you a coder? Show off your coding skills through a coded website. Are you a photographer? Well you don’t need to know coding to get a portfolio website going. There are many website builders that will let you carve out a stunningly designed website.

Even if you are not in the job market, your website can be the one shop destination to attach products and tangible output to your skills. Think of yourself as a business, and your audience as the customers. What value can you provide to people coming to your website? Websites are a great way to get freelance work as well! People are more likely to believe in your ability when they see what you have worked on in the past.

This is a screenshot of my website.

Get yourself a Business Card

In college when we make new friends, the default next step is, “Hey, could I find you on Facebook to keep in touch?” or “What is your Snapchat handle?”

This cannot however be done at company information sessions or recruiting events. At such events students often talk to a company representative and exchange email information or LinkedIn contact information. It feels very one way to me personally. At the same time the student’s resume is what is supposed to go the other way to the company representative but when it is not a career fair — it almost feels like the resume is just being stuffed down to the representative. Exchanging business cards is a great way to end a conversation and there is no reason as to why a student should not have one as well: “Thanks for your business card. It was a pleasure talking to you, here is my student business card and if you think you see a potential role for me at [insert company name] you can reach out to me as I am super excited to get an interview opportunity. I hope it is alright to follow up with you regarding our conversation.”

Marshall Students order | Rossier Students order | Price Students order

It is interesting that a few USC departments offer student business cards and most do not. I will dig into why that is the case and update this post if I get any news.

Sample Student Business Card

Family Resume Review

USC has some great career development resources. The Career Center and various departments hold resume improvement workshops and have walk in resume review hours. There are also sessions where company representatives come in and hold one on resume review sessions with students. All that advice is top notch but we students often forget our greatest resource — our parents and family. They have trodden our path before and can give us honest and actionable advice on our resume. Often career services is diplomatic in how they give us criticism but our parents and family can lash out if the resume is not up to standard. Okay maybe not lash out, but you get the point — they can be more upfront with criticism. Also, you may never know if a family member knows someone who might be looking for someone with your skillset — it is a great way to give your resume exposure in a circle that is not considered important when it comes to professional ties — the family!

Email Signature

In the world of instant messaging, writing an email message is a drag. Both in terms of length and maintaining the professional tone. We millennials must do it whether we like it or not. A great way to make for an effective email is to have an email signature added in below. The main components of an email signature for a student should be: Name, Major, Expected Graduation, Contact Number & a link to your LinekdIn profile or personal website. Here’s an example:

Tommy Trojan
Hype Relations ‘18
t: 213–123–9999
w: linkedin.com/in/tommytrojan

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