Leverage personal branding to get hired for summer jobs

February 14, 2022

Almost 2 million students will graduate with bachelor’s degrees this spring, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s an awful lot of competition for entry-level jobs! Plus, high school students are looking for summer work, often competing with college grads. 

It can feel overwhelming, but you have ways to stand out from the crowd. Most people applying for jobs are going to start with a resume and a generic application form. Don’t be “most people.” Employers want to know basic information about you that isn’t on a resume.

How likely are you to show up? Are you going to follow instructions? Will other employees enjoy working with you? 

Leveraging your personal brand will give you the employment edge.

Let’s start with a simple definition so we’re on the same page.

Personal brand is how people perceive your unique qualities, abilities, and reputation.

People can try to fake an exciting or memorable personal brand, but the phonies can’t last long. Besides, authenticity is what helps you find the best possible fits for your skills and interests. If you pretend to be someone you aren’t, you’ll be miserable in your career. 

Brand strategist Ryan Erskine compares the authenticity angle to a wardrobe:

“If you get a flashy suit vest and suit vests just aren’t your style, it probably won’t make it out of your closet when it’s time to get dressed.”

Entrepreneur.com (July 2016)

Authentic personal branding is what employers are looking for.

To be clear, job listings don’t start out with instructions to summarize your brand. But they are asking for it in different words. You can get a jump on other job seekers by leveraging what makes you you

As you develop the stories in your spikeview portfolio, the things that make you unique will become evident. You’re defining your personal brand as you add new stories, experiences, and accomplishments. Here are some tips to help you turn that content into irresistible material for employers.

Figure out who you are and what you’re pursuing

This is another way of saying “be true to yourself.” If you’re not at all interested in physical labor, then don’t try to position yourself for a construction job this summer. What do you enjoy learning about? What types of careers seem like more fun than work? What do school counselors say you’re good at?

Get active in your areas of interest

If you’re thinking about graphic design, then be an active member of that community. Meet people. Share what you’re leaning on social media. Blog about the history and evolution of typography. Interview an industry icon. The bottom line is that you want to demonstrate your love of the industry. 

Collaborate with others

Working on your personal brand can be a great opportunity to reach out to total strangers. Look for opportunities to team up with others, both peers and experienced professionals. Call it networking or call it being friendly. Either way, you’re laying the groundwork for a reputation that sticks with you. 

Ask for reviews, references, and recommendations

Asking for comments from others can be a humbling experience. After all, they don’t owe you anything. But most people want to be helpful, especially if the request is fairly easy. Be clear and concise: “Professor, would you be willing to write 2-3 sentences about my work ethic in class?”

Show up

This advice applies to all areas of life. Showing up (literally or figuratively) can make or break a career. Be the person who’s reliable. At the start of your career, that’s huge. But you also need to show up in conversations related to your career goals, the stuff you want to be known for. The options are plentiful: podcasting, blogging, video reviews, tweet threads, and so on. Express your opinions with humility and never stop learning. 

Bundle these ideas into your job applications and interviews

Tons of people read self-help books, but few take action. You can do this! The more you build your personal brand, the stronger responses you’ll have when people say “Tell me about yourself.” 

how to answer "tell me about yourself"