One of my closest friends recently asked for my help to prep her for her interview: Katrina is a 3.5 GPA graduate from UCI and is applying to a government position. She’s very intelligent, pretty, and extremely hard working, but felt that the competition was going to be so intense that she would just get lost in the sea of applicants. She didn’t have a blog, a twitter, and had never heard of the term “personal branding” before.
This is a tough situation. So much about what we talk about here in the blogosphere is how to leverage your blog and twitter to build your personal brand and position yourself to get the job. To be honest, building a blog up to a point where it can justifiably bring you referrals and credibility can take a very long time.
Katrina’s interview was in 1 week, so I had a very short amount of time to get her personal brand to stand out above the rest. Since 1 week was too short of a time to create a food and drug industry blog or to start gathering followers on Twitter, we needed to focus on the one thing that was readily available to us and that would significantly help her stand out – Knowledge.
Position your brand
Our goal during the short 1 week we had to prepare was to position her personal brand as extremely knowledgeable in the food and drug industry. Here are the concrete steps we took to accomplish this goal:
1. Create her LinkedIn page and adjust her privacy settings on Facebook
LinkedIn is the professional site that will give you the highest ROI. Most professionals are on LinkedIn whether or not they have a blog or an understanding of social media. Katrina completely updated her profile and added an image of herself.
Since this is a government job, we had to be careful about all the information they can find online about Katrina. We decided to change her Facebook privacy settings to only allow her friends to view her profile and images.
2. Search “FDA” on LinkedIn and contact every single person we could find
Once her LinkedIn profile was complete, we started searching for everyone who currently works at the FDA. We sent InMails to those who had the option available and we searched Google for the contact information of those without InMails.
Katrina messaged a total of 20 people who worked at the FDA. Within 5 days, we heard back from 4; she was able to establish a relationship with these people and also get some of her important questions answered. We now had an inside look at what it’s like to work at the FDA and what the interview process entails. More importantly, Katrina was able to get 1 out of the 4 people she talked with to agree to be a source for a recommendation.
3. Search Google Blogsearch and Twitter Search for “FDA” and read all news in the past month
Next we searched on Google Blogsearch and Twitter Search for FDA information for the past month. Katrina needed to be well informed about the industry and company because that’s how she was going to stand out. This took about 3 days to do, but by the end of the 3 days, we had a carefully written word document that laid out all of the key happenings for the FDA. Katrina memorized these facts for the interview and even developed questions for the interviewer based on the facts. This demonstrated her eagerness to work for the company as well as her knowledge about the food and drug industry.
4. The clincher: Create an information website (not a blog) as a resource for all Food and Drug industry news
This was the final step. Instead of spending the time to create a blog, I developed an informational page for her with her resume, image, and industry news that she researched. She turned her site into a complete resource for everything related to the food and drug industry.
A blog would take too long to create. Furthermore, a blog usually has areas like archives and comments that would give away how long she has had the site up for. With the information page, the reader does not immediately know how long the site has been up or that no one is reading the information. All you can see is the hard work that has been put into it.
Katrina had a magnificent interview. She walked in feeling confident because of her knowledge of the industry, and she said it definitely showed in the way she answered her questions and carried herself throughout the interview.
When asked, “Why should we pick you over all of the other applicants we’re considering?”, she highlighted her food and drug industry news website as an example of her true interest in the industry and her extremely hard work ethic to go above and beyond what is expected of her.
It takes about 4 – 5 weeks for them to get back to her with their decision. Wish her good luck!
Jun is the Founder and CMO of Viralogy, the social media rank. His personal blog, How to Succeed as a Young Entrepreneur, gives a real, unfiltered view of the Startup Life so that current and aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from his successes and mistakes.