To be successful in the job market you have to understand what you are selling in order to be able to market yourself successfully. It’s important that you understand what makes you unique and how to communicate that to employers. One way to think about this is: If your name was a brand, what would your brand say about you?
Marketing is often seen as a business-related activity, but it is at the heart of every successful job hunt. Whilst you’re at university you are developing your own individual brand. When employability is viewed in its crudest form, we are all products attempting to sell our skills in the job market.
Building your brand
The ‘I Brand Employability Model’ below highlights the fact that being a successful graduate is not just about your degree; it’s about actively developing generic employability skills, so you can develop rich examples to include in your applications and interviews.
So how do you build your brand and subsequently market your skills? University is not just about your degree, the extra curricular activities are just as important. Ask yourself the question: Every year over 300,000 students graduate with a degree: what makes me stand out?
From day one at university you need to think about how you will complete your course, but also how you will become a successful graduate. The difference being that to be a successful graduate is not merely limited to your degree, but includes developing additional skills which make you more marketable and as a result increase your employability. You need to actively engage with your career development and ensure that upon graduation you have developed a brand that employers will want to buy.
Your extracurricular activity is what will separate you from the numerous other graduates in the market place. Being active within the Students’ Union, doing voluntary work, playing sports and getting involved with other activities will speak volumes to employers, and will show self-motivation, commitment and drive.
Top five tips to build your individual brand
- Join an existing society within your Students’ Union or start your own society. Become an active member of a society and take on one of the following roles: president, marketing coordinator, treasurer or event manager. Each of these roles will help you to develop valuable employability skills.
- Volunteer, even if it is only for one hour a week. Over the course of a year this will amount to 52 hours of volunteering, which will emphasise your ability to commit to a worthy cause.
- Find out about enterprise activities at your university. This is the perfect opportunity to develop your entrepreneurial skills.
- Sports provide the perfect opportunity to develop leadership skills, teamwork and motivation.
- Don’t use lack of time as an excuse– make time, it’s your future.
How to market yourself successfully
Once you’ve developed these skills, it’s important to understand how to communicate them to employers. A great CV or application form depends on how well you can market your skills, but it’s also about recognising the skills you have developed. Many students often don’t recognise the transferable skills they’ve developed and how relevant they’re to the world of work.
Top five tips for marketing yourself successfully
- Self-assessment. Use the generic employability skills highlighted in the ‘I Brand Employability Model’ to develop examples of these skills in both your degree and your extracurricular activities.
- Elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a summary of what’s brilliant about you. It should be concise and to the point, but communicate an interesting fact about your skills. Make sure you know your speciality; what makes you unique?
- Networking. Networking provides the perfect opportunity to market yourself. Building a network is invaluable as it provides links to individuals and organisations who may be able to help you find an internship or graduate role. Find networks related to your field or career interests.
- LinkedIn. Building an online network provides the perfect platform to network. It also gives you the opportunity to join forums and discussions that will help keep you abreast of changes in your industry. LinkedIn can also make it easier for you to research companies and identify who in your network is connected to the company.
- Alumni. You are not the first to graduate from your course, so build links with other alumni. Former students understand how hard it is to compete in the job market and thus can often help you to navigate the pitfalls. You can also use alumni to help identify different routes into your sector of choice.
It’s not just about marketing yourself; it’s about having a product to market. Your marketing strategy will only be as good as the product, so take the time to graduate with a brand that employers will want to buy.