I love speaking to graduating students. It’s thrilling but there’s always the same poignant and pressing question in the Q&A session: “With so much competition out there, how do I make myself stand out and land that job?”

Best visual storyteller

My best answer? It’s about Wow Power. Go out and be the best visual storyteller of your brand. Bring your brand to life (or, larger than life) and interviewers will sit up and pay attention. Here’s five strategies (some visual, some playful) that have the potential to knock the socks off anyone sitting opposite you in the interviewer seat.

FYI The first two address serious mindset issues. Learn to manage these upfront, and your job hunt just got easier.

1. Grip I can’t help notice the somewhat crestfallen looks on some students’ faces in sessions. I’m whipping up massive doses of inspiration, ideas and courage, and I look around, and see despair. Sound familiar Y/N? It’s time to get a grip. Learn to be resilient. (Proceed to #2.)

2. Resilience There’s power in learning resilience. If you’re resilient, you’re going to approach job hunting totally differently from someone who is feeling helpless, passive, or as I’ve seen too often, subliminally already expecting failure.

Where do you stand?

Imagine a continuum: At one end, helplessness and a paralyzing fear of the future; and at the opposite end, there’s the desire to rise to the top and succeed. Where do you stand?

If you’re slanting towards being optimistic, you’re certainly not going to give up. You’re going to get into the habit of interpreting setbacks as temporary. You know you can handle it, move forward and succeed. This is learning to think like an optimist. Embrace it. It’ll help you deal with the unexpected. If you’re veering in the opposite end of the continuum, then this is a clue you might need additional help.

3. Splash Create your own highly-personalized and visual splash page on www.about.me. It’s free. It doesn’t take long to set up, but treat it seriously. This is a public page where you can park your own brand for visitors to get a sense of who you are, and what you’re looking for. It’s perfect for visual storytelling. (Browse around the site first and check out other members’s pages.) Write up your resume. Add your photo and social media links. Before the interview, instead of sending an attachment of your resume, include your personalized about.me link in your email. FYI Is your resume on LinkedIn? It’s the first place recruiters go to search for candidates.

5. Mini Billboard Even if you’ve never had a job before, or you’re out there looking, think about the power of handing out a business card. If you do it right, it’s an irresistible piece of visual storytelling. You’ll stand out. Of course, it has to reflect you and your brand. Want to add a title for fun? Make one up. Take, Director of Possibilities, for example. It’s provocative but in three words, you’re telling me you’re going to solve my problems. Use the back. Treat your business card as your own mini billboard. Heads will turn. You might need a designer to help you. I did. It’s worth it.

FYI There are free printing options galore but if you want the name of a terrific printer, you can get 500 two-sided cards printed in NYC for just over $100. There’s no excuse for cheap cards that don’t have a punch. I highly recommend Variable Graphics in NYC. Kenny Raskin is your man. http://variablegraphics.com. (I don’t usually include recommendations but cheap, ugly cards are not a good idea. Believe me.)

4. Flip If you haven’t bought a Flip Video yet, this could be a deal maker for you. (Job maker?) This snappy video fits in the palm of your hand, comes in kooky bright colors and couldn’t be easier to use. Prices range ($129.99-$199.99) Check out J&R www.jr.com or the official Flip Store www.jr.com. Walmart, other places, too.

What’s the idea? Get a friend to shoot you for 90 seconds to two minutes talking about your expertise. Or, the kind of job you’re looking for, and why you’re the best candidate. Or talk about what you do best. Be yourself and professional at the same time. Personalize the video. (Don’t send the same one to different companies.) But be smart about this. You have to know your audience and where you’re sending it and why. Make sure your message, content and delivery are appropriate to the company. Dress the part. What’s your tone? Get the idea? If not, you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot. FYI Or, create a series of videos. Put them on ww.youtube.com. Be smart about creating the titles so they’re snappy, appealing.

5. Own. If you haven’t already registered your own name as a domain, do it. When I first interviewed Dan Schawbel on NY Brand Lab Radio, he told me it’s one of the first things he advises students. This is your name so protect it. It’s one of your most valuable assets. I’ve heard resistance to this idea. Remember: Your name is your power base. Own it, protect it and leverage it. You’ll be happy you did one day. Before someone else gets it, register your name at a site like www.godaddy.com (approx. $9.99 a year)

Here’s to your success and knocking the socks off any interviewer!


Mary van de Wiel is best known for her global expertise when it comes to coaxing out the real power in brands to dramatically increase sales. Van is founder and Creative Director of ZingYourBrand.com. She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking: A Brand Therapist’s Viewpoint. Follow her on Twitter.