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You could spend every waking hour working to raise your social profile and land your dream job, but St. Edward’s University expert and Professor of Marketing Debra Zahay-Blatz says the best bet is to focus on a few high-leverage areas.

In today’s competitive job market, great candidates don’t just have killer resumes and cover letters: They’ve got meticulously honed “personal brands” that help them rise above the rest, whatever their field.

So how do you start crafting a brand that helps explain who you are, what you believe and what you do? Zahay-Blatz, shares a few critical steps to follow.

Know Thyself

Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. On one side, list at least three ways you’re the same as your peers; on the other side, list at least three ways you’re different from them — personality characteristics, life experiences, interests and knowledge. It’s these differences that will allow you to make an impact. “When you know what makes you unique, you can start to understand what you offer the world,” says Zahay-Blatz.

Master LinkedIn

The professional social network has many layers; take advantage of all of them to maximize your impact.

  • Leave nothing blank. Only half of all profiles on LinkedIn are complete, so just taking the basic steps to add a photo, description, recommendations, groups, skills, and endorsements will make a positive impact. Once you’ve done that, you can go deeper.
  • Know what matters. Close to 90 percent of all recruiters report having hired someone through LinkedIn — but how do they find you in a sea of more than 300 million people? The platform’s algorithms favor skills and experiences over positions, and keywords over job titles, so getting this right matters. Combine this focus with the distinct traits you unearthed in the previous exercise, and you’re bound to rise among the LinkedIn ranks. “The more unique you are in your LinkedIn profile, the more likely you are to be found,” says Zahay-Blatz.
  • Study the numbers. Diving deep into LinkedIn’s analytics can also help you find out where you’re falling short. For example, if you’re looking for a job locally but discover just 10 percent of people visiting your profile are from the Austin area, you can add more content related to Austin, or zero in on connecting to other Austin-area professionals.

Launch a Blog

Blogging regularly on your areas of expertise pays dividends on more than one level: It gives potential employers a window into the way you think and the insight you can bring to a topic, and it can raise your social profile. “More than one of my students who were writing about marketing topics actually got jobs through their blog,” says Zahay-Blatz.

Graduate programs in The Bill Munday School of Business at St. Edward’s University prepare students for professional success by helping them build highly sought-after skills in courses like Social Media Marketing. Learn more about our convenient weekend and evening programs.

Erin Peterson is a freelance writer.

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