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Take your pro persona beyond the 9 to 5

When you’re competing against other great candidates, how do you let an employer know you’re the one they should interview?

It goes without saying you need to make yourself stand out — and sometimes it takes more than just a fancy resume. Hiring managers may look at hundreds of those in a day and they love to see more than just strong verbs and software skills.

So, how do you stand out?

Create a personal brand and sell yourself. Think “personality” instead of “suit-and-tie” — take a look beyond your professional persona. Know what you’re selling, and the compelling reasons you are the best person for the job.

“Twenty-five per cent of the reason anyone gets, keeps, or advances in a position is due to technical ability. The other 75% is interpersonal skills and image,” says Kendra Reddy, talent consultant and owner of Blueprint Strategies. “In business and in life, people want to be around people they like and share beliefs with.”

Before walking into that interview, give the employer a chance to learn more about the real you. Do you have some professionally minded social media accounts to share? They can offer a great snapshot of your likes, interests and relationship skills.

Likewise, a carefully curated portfolio of hobby or personal interest work can showcase your creativity, passion and problem-solving abilities beyond your 9 to 5 role. Whether it’s web or graphic design, writing, blogging, artwork, or applications you’ve programmed, it’s worth showing off.

Sure, this additional material can help make you memorable, but you need to bring it all together under one umbrella: your personal brand.

It’s the complete package that helps you sell yourself effectively. From resume to portfolio, cover letter to online profiles, each of these brand touchpoints should tell the employer one thing: Why you’re the best person to join the team.

Building high-quality relationships can also help your brand. Create your “elevator pitch” to tell people who you are and why you’re of value to them. Don’t turn it into an outright sales pitch, though — think about why people should want to know you better and find a way to build that relationship.

“The best thing one can do is stop being a commodity and start being a personality,” says Reddy. “Always be looking to build relationships as opposed to collecting contacts.”

How to build your own brand

• Participate in professional communities.
• Network and attend industry events.
• Create an “elevator pitch” to sell yourself.
• Maintain a personal blog or web site.

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