Whether your plans for 2016 include searching for new IT gigs, advancing your career by acquiring additional IT certifications, or going after an Academy Award, a strong personal branding strategy is essential to launch you into the next season. While you may not be able to spend the millions of dollars on your personal branding campaign that Hollywood invests in the Oscars each year, you can gain valuable insight by seeking self-promotion and marketing tips from the film industry experts. Keeping these 4 tips in mind at your next IT interview will help you to improve upon and spread the word about your professional reputation by focusing on those unique attributes and soft skills which make you the right fit for a new gig.
Thoughtfully Craft Your Promotional Language
The way you present your skills to an interviewer can be just as important as the fact that you have them. Just as Oscar campaigners can be banned from the awards show for using slanderous language against their competitors, you must avoid language that compares your knowledge to that of other IT pros (i.e. “just as good as” or “better than”), and focus only on promoting what you have to offer. On the other hand, be weary of language that could minimize your accomplishments, or draw attention away from their value. Keep in mind that whether or not you’ve earned a college degree is much less important than the skills you’ve acquired over your career. Those without a college degree must confidently exhibit these learned IT skills, and likewise, those with a degree should not focus only on promoting themselves as a college graduate, but instead should emphasize the skills learned while in school, or better yet, independently.
Furthermore, try to hone in on a few key IT skills, and one or two primary soft skills in conversation about your qualifications. While it’s still important to list your many skills on your resume and online profiles, your “brand” will be much clearer and more memorable if you concentrate on a few key traits that make you a top consultant in your area of IT.
Be Savvy With Social Media
While this includes maintaining a positive social media image by abstaining from any posts that aren’t work-appropriate, your social media savvy should also entail active engagement with professional sites or online portfolios, such as LinkedIn. Oscar campaigners make a point of interacting with and posting on social media sites to leave a positive impression on voters. Likewise, it’s important that your profile usage contributes positively to your personal brand. Show hiring managers that you are a thought leader by engaging with industry news, articles, and sharing your ideas. Your interviewer is likely to look over your social media sites, and when they do you’ll want them to notice that not only are you up to date with and employing the use of popular brands and technologies, but also that you’re online personal branding is consistent with your in-person impression.
Remember that most successful consultants (no matter the field) promote themselves through social media. So while you may have a consulting firm to help you search for opportunities, it’s important that you maintain a professional edge by remaining plugged-in to this promotional platform. You’ll reap many benefits by weaving your professional IT brand into your personal online content.
Strategically Reference Your Previous Experiences
While Oscar nominees and winners are always quick to remind the Academy of their previous accolades, they must be careful to ensure that voters are focused on their present, rather than past performance, and that the actors are considered separately from the film as a whole. Your personal branding efforts also require a cautious approach when referencing previous experience. Focus on using “I” instead of “we” language when describing past accomplishments in order to help your interviewer get a better sense of the work you individually contributed while working on a gig.
Additionally, be aware of the way you discuss the previous clients you’ve done work with, and make sure that your client’s corporate brand does not overshadow your personal brand, or that of your IT consulting firm. Your firm likely has a longstanding and strong relationship with your interviewers. Leverage that reputation to your personal brand’s advantage, by asking yourself “why is my firm proud to have me on their team?” Answering that question is both a great way to begin thinking about your personal brand, and a great way to market yourself in an interview.
Exhibit Your Soft Skills By Telling Stories
One of the most important and political aspects of Oscar campaigning is the effort made to ensure that a film’s acting talent wins over audiences to their nomination cause. For Hollywood, this means participating in talk shows and interviews where actors and actresses are able to showcase themselves as people distinct from their characters. While IT skills and accomplishments are certainly the “core” of your brand, your personality also plays an important role when it comes to marketing yourself to an interviewer. Not only is it important to tell stories during an interview that exhibit your IT skill sets, but also search for stories that will tell an interviewer about your soft skills and personality. For example, to answer an “overcoming obstacles” question, search for a time when your IT skills helped you to overcome a problem, and your easy-going personality kept everyone calm while you worked on the solution. Your hiring manager liking you and wanting to work with you is an important prerequisite to receiving an offer.
As with your promotion of IT skills, stick to a few key soft skills that you’d like to highlight in these stories, rather than all of the soft skills you possess. This will leave a stronger impression of who you are in an interviewer’s mind, and give him or her specific qualities to reference when thinking about your conversation.
The ultimate goal of your personal brand is to establish for both yourself and others who you are as an IT pro, and to promote yourself to an interviewer with a clear and concise message that rivals and improves upon the efforts of Hollywood. Professionals with a strong personal brand have mastered the “tell me about yourself,” interview opener, and never struggle to share with a friend what they accomplish professionally. One way to get started is to think about how you normally introduce yourself, and build on key qualities from there. Your elevator pitch is like a nominee’s red-carpet speech – it should be well executed, and exude your personal brand. Share what makes you great, and start reaping all of the professional “awards” that the new year has to offer.