Not another brick in the wall!

Hello Huskies! The recruitment season is already upon us! Employers are scrambling to find and recruit student talent like you that can help them address their organizational needs and future challenges. As someone who worked as a recruiter for many years, I can tell you that finding the right candidate is not an easy task. There are so many job candidates out there with similar skills to screen through and so little time in which to do it. Wouldn’t it be great if you, as a job candidate, could find a way to stand out from the crowd? There is. It’s called Personal Branding.

You see, no two people are identical. What differentiates you from others is your Personal Brand that nobody else can replicate. It’s that unique combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, experiences, values, and personality traits that defines you and how you generate value. It’s also how people perceive you and what they say about you when you are not in the room.

You all have a unique Personal Brand, but some of you may feel unsure about how to go about leveraging it to stand out and differentiate yourself in the eyes of employers. The good news is that your brand elements and features are already in place. All you need to do is use them to design an Intentional Personal Brand.

Defining and communicating your Intentional Personal Brand will help you:

  • Figure out who you are and what your career interests and goals are.
  • Create a Personal Brand that is relevant and attractive to your target audience.
  • Strategically incorporate Career Readiness Competencies into your Personal Brand.
  • Be more effective in your job or internship search by standing out from the crowd.
  • Provide you with an incentive to continue to evolve your skill set, knowledge, and interests.
  • Help break down cultural (and other) barriers and eliminate bias and stereotyping.

Here are a few practical steps that will help move you in the right direction:

Step 1: Think about and write down:

  • What do you do and why? (e.g., “I am studying mechanical engineering because I am fascinated by innovation and what future technology will bring…”)
  • What are you interested in and passionate about? (e.g., I want to be part of the scientific community that researches and discovers treatments for rare diseases…” )
  • What kind of tasks/projects energize you? (e.g., “I enjoy working on projects that place me outside my comfort zone and allow me to learn new skills…”)
  • What are you especially good at? (e.g., “ I am especially good at analyzing and visualizing data…”)
  • When are you at your very best? (e.g., “ I am at my very best when I am working within a team…”)
  • What kinds of problems do you enjoy solving? (e.g., “I enjoy solving problems that require me to think “outside the box”…..”

Step 2: Think about and write down:

  • What do others say about you? (We sometimes have skills/abilities that we take for granted but others view as our “superpower”)
  • What do others say that you are especially good at? (What do others go to or rely on you for?)
  • What do others think/say that you need to change or improve on? (no one is perfect – we are only human!)

Step 3: Use the information from Step 1 and Step 2 to craft a brief Personal Brand Statement. Your statement should be:

  • 3-5 lines long (It’s a summary of your Personal Brand, so keep it short and sweet)
  • Written with your audience in mind (who are you trying to engage? What do they care about and value?)
  • Compelling (Make it interesting and memorable for your audience)

Step 4: You can use your Intentional Personal Brand Statement in the following ways:

  • Use it for your LinkedIn “About” section.
  • Use it as part of your networking pitch at career fairs and other networking events.
  • Use it as your answer to the “tell me about yourself” interview question.
  • Use it during the interview to highlight your skills and accomplishments and how you add value.
  • Use it as part of your resume objective/summary (if you choose to include one)
  • Use it to remind yourself that you are “not another brick in the wall.”

Tips: If you are having trouble defining your Personal Brand, do the following:

  • Think about your successes and accomplishments inside and outside the classroom. Write down the knowledge, skills, abilities, and personality traits that contributed to your success.
  • Complete the Focus2 Assessment Tool.
  • Schedule an appointment with a career advisor from the UConn Center for Career Development. Talking through it with us can really help!

Personal Branding is not about bragging or self-glorification. It’s about defining and communicating our brand persona, and it’s unique qualities. In today’s fast-paced and complex world, it is impossible to achieve our career goals in isolation. We need to engage the right people that can help guide us and facilitate our access to exciting career opportunities. To achieve this, we need to be visible so that we can tell our story and capture the hearts and minds of our audience.

I will leave you with my favorite lyric:

“Forever trusting who we are and nothing else matters”


Take care!

By Theo Menounos
Theo Menounos Assistant Director, Career Readiness Competencies, Liaison for Engineering, Physics, Chemistry