How To Use Storytelling To Build Your Personal Brand And Land That Dream Job

Personal Brand - Udacity

Marketers love to talk about “brand.” So do recruiters. Company brand, personal brand. In the weeks leading up to—and in the days following—the Super Bowl, everyone talks about brand. Which means, whether anyone realizes it or not, everyone is talking about storytelling. This year’s assortment of Super Bowl ads were heavy on story-as-brand. A recent Forbes article noted that:

  1. Some companies are using their ads to make a political statement (intentionally or not).
  2. There seem to be more ads focusing on the brand level instead of individual products.

For some, this was a successful approach. For others, not so much. One thing we can all agree on, is that story works, when it comes to provoking emotion. Whether you liked the Audi and Coke ads or not, chances are you discussed them. A very good friend of mine worked on the Airbnb ad, which was a textbook example of story-as-brand in action, and by almost all accounts, a very successful version thereof.

But what does this have to do with getting a job?

Personal Brand

If you’re a job-seeker, you’re probably familiar with the term “personal brand.” What this refers to essentially, is the “public” you. Your personal brand is a composite of all the things publicly available about you, that together comprise a representation of you, as seen through the eyes of recruiters and hiring managers.

There are countless articles out there about how to create, maintain, build, and enhance your personal brand:

How to Define Your Personal Brand in 5 Simple Steps

10 Crucial Questions For Defining Your Personal Brand

How to Build Your Personal Brand

These are just a few examples. Keep searching, and you’ll keep finding more. But don’t keep searching. Instead, put your writing cap on. Because at the end the of the day, it all comes down to telling your story.

Telling Your Story

I can already hear you say it: I’m not a writer!  That’s ok. The actual writing is for your eyes only. What the public sees will be the expressions and manifestations of what you wrote.

Here’s how it works. Start a document, and create two columns.

In Column A, try and write down demonstrable accomplishments and experiences that others pursuing similar career goals would likely be able to list as well. Degrees and credentials earned. Skills mastered. Roles previously held. Projects built. And so forth.

In Column B, try and write down demonstrable accomplishments and experiences that are more likely to be unique to you, but that still relate—at least tangentially—to your career goals. For example: Places you’ve traveled. People you’ve worked with. Articles you’ve written. Awards you’ve received. Internships you’ve held. Talents you possess. Obstacles you’ve overcome.

Now, forget about Column A completely. Your job is to write Column B. And remember, this is for your eyes only. It’s not the movie. It’s just the script. Don’t worry too much about grammar, tone, etc. Just keep it simple. Start with an introduction that summarizes what’s to come. Follow this with one brief paragraph for each accomplishment/experience that you listed (no more than 4-5). Then, write a conclusion that summarizes why what you’ve listed is relevant to your career goals.

Your Script For Success

This document is what you’re going to use to optimize your personal brand. It will be your sanity check, and your source of truth. It’s your script for success. Here’s a use case to show you what we mean:

Do you have a Twitter account? Yes? Good. Go look at it. Look at EVERY aspect of your Twitter account, and ask yourself, is it in line with your script? Does your photo LOOK like the person you talk about in your script? What about the header image? How about the short bio? Does your bio sound like your script? Now, go look at your own tweets. Does every single one support your script? If yes, good. If not, don’t do those anymore. If you need to send tweets that aren’t in line with your script, create another Twitter account, and use that account for your “non-script” tweeting. And name that account something VERY different from your “personal brand” name. Same approach for curated (i.e. retweeted) content. Share what fits your script. Don’t share the other stuff. Or, share it from your other account.

Once your Twitter is optimized, do the same with your LinkedIn. Your Quora. Your Facebook. Your blog. Your website. Anything and everything. You, the person, are now a story. Stick to that story.

Express Yourself

Let’s go back to Airbnb for a moment. Here’s the statement at the core of their 30-second Super Bowl ad:

“We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”

What does this have to do with Airbnb as a business? Think about it in terms of Columns A and B. Obviously this is Column B territory. What does Airbnb do that’s different? They believe in travel as an experience. They believe in lodging as a connection to place. They believe in the world as a global platform for cross-cultural engagement and interaction. If this ad succeeds, it does so as an expression of their Column B script.

When ads like this DON’T work, it’s because people perceive there to be a disconnect between the expression of the story, and the reality of the story. Read some of the criticisms of Coke’s Super Bowl ad, and you’ll see what I mean.

Your Personal Brand, On Brand

Here is what you want to do when it comes to storytelling and your personal brand. You want to understand, and be able to enunciate to yourself, what the reality of your story is. Then, you need to create and maintain the public-facing expressions and manifestations of this story, such that it’s always all in perfect alignment.

Marketers love to talk about being “on brand.” Oddly enough, recruiters don’t. But it’s how they choose who they choose all the same.

Soft Skills Make Firm Foundations: Building Your Candidate Brand

Udacity, Students, Job Seekers, Candidate Brand

Data-driven hiring models are increasingly able to include and assess soft skills, so it’s critical that students and job-seekers understand how this impacts and informs the process of building a successful candidate brand.

Hard skills are generally defined as those teachable skills that can be measured and quantified. Soft skills, on the other hand, are understood to be more subjective—these are the qualities and attributes we tend to think of as comprising “people skills.” Traditionally, soft skills are considered much harder to quantify.

So can soft skills really be assessed using data? The answer is: Yes.

Continue Reading

How Your New Udacity Profile Can Get You A Job

email_launch_banner03

At Udacity, we want to be the place where you come to get an education, to get a job. One of the key ways we pursue this objective is through candidate profiles. Every career-ready Nanodegree program student has a unique candidate profile, which functions as an optimized showcase for your skills, your projects, and your experience. We want to see top employers consistently discovering Udacity talent, and student profiles help make this possible.

Continue Reading

Storytelling, Personal Branding, and Getting Hired

Creating your personal brand

Every significant achievement has a story behind it. That’s why we call them success stories! Our personal success stories are an important asset when it comes to career advancement. But while we’re often quite good at highlighting our successes, we’re not always so good at telling the stories behind them. However, it’s often the “story”—and our ability to tell it well—that ultimately sets us apart from the crowd.

Tip: It’s called a “success story” for a reason! Succeeding is not enough, you have to tell the story too!

Recruiters and hiring managers face crowded fields every day, and often the candidates they’re reviewing have very similar skills. So they look for other differentiating factors. In addition, these same recruiting teams often don’t have the same technological knowledge as the candidates they’re reviewing. So again, they look for something that does resonate with them. Finally, it isn’t just about skills. There’s more to being the right candidate than that. So what else is there?

Continue Reading

A Tale Of Two Techs: Tech Skills Get You Hired Anywhere, NOT Just “In Tech”

1200x628: Blog

There is having tech skills, and there is working in tech. These are VERY different things.

The former is very broad, the latter is comparatively narrow. When it comes to career planning, it’s crucial to understand the distinction. Too many people are opting not to learn tech skills, either because they don’t want to work in tech, or don’t think they can. But tech skills get you hired just about anywhere, NOT just “in tech.”

A recent article in Investopedia entitled Most Valuable Career Skills in 2016 written by Shoshanna Delventhal offers an excellent summation:

“Ongoing acceleration of the tech industry is a main reason why tech skills are in demand. However, it’s not just the software and mobile app startups that are searching for tech-savvy talent. Almost every company needs these kind of skilled people.”

So, it’s not about working “in tech.” It’s about becoming one of these “skilled people.”

Continue Reading

6 Uncommon Tech Jobs You Probably Didn’t Know About

Software engineer, mobile developer, data scientist…when it comes to engineering jobs, you’re surely familiar with the “typical” job listings and titles. But did you know there are a host of unique tech jobs at thriving companies around the world with nontraditional responsibilities and descriptions?

We’ve put together a short list of unique, uncommon, and (most importantly!) open roles at great companies including Fitbit, Box and Uber. So check ’em out! And when you’re on the online job hunt, be sure to search for your specific tech skills and not just titles—you never know what interesting role will spark your interest and match your personal skills!

Remember, tech skills are relevant everywhere, not just IN tech!

Web Content Developer at Fitbit

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 10.47.34 AM
Image Credit: Fitbit

The Basics: Super collaborative role, in which you work with everyone from product managers and designers to software engineers and web content developers to create interactive web content, primarily for highly-visible marketing initiatives. It’s a creative role with a lot of impact, and tech skills are critical!

Primary Skills Needed: HTML and CSS standards, including HTML5 and CSS3, and responsive design. Some knowledge of JavaScript / jQuery, and experience with AJAX is particularly helpful.

Continue Reading

Announcing Talent Source: Connecting Students & Employers With Our New Candidate Sourcing Tool

Udacity Talent Source - candidate sourcing

Nanodegree programs are built with a mission in mind: to equip students with the most in demand skills being sought after by the best companies. To achieve this objective, we design curricula in partnership with a shortlist of leading brands like Google, AT&T, Facebook, Salesforce, Cloudera, and more. These curriculum partnerships ensure that the skills our students are mastering are the same skills top employers want to see in their candidates.

Building Nanodegree programs in this way makes for a mutually beneficial employment ecosystem. Companies gain access to an extraordinary talent pool rich with qualified candidates, and our students connect directly to the top organizations where they want to work.

“We are looking for candidates with the skills to tackle large-scale tech problems. Udacity students have demonstrated both their technical abilities and go-getter attitudes, making them an impressive pool of candidates to source from.” ~Francois Bergeron, Engineer Recruitment, Global Human Resources Department at Rakuten

Talent Source is where this connection happens. Each Udacity student has a unique profile that can be highly optimized to represent their best work and showcase their most valuable skills. Collectively, these student profiles are organized into an exclusive database—called Talent Source—which vetted partner organizations use to source new talent for their open roles.

Hiring managers and recruiters can search for student candidates based on a number of criteria including skills, location, preferred employment type, and more. Upon identifying positive matches, these hiring partners can then review student profiles, delve into student projects, and start matching ideal candidates to open roles within their organizations. Student profiles also include resumes and direct links to LinkedIn and GitHub accounts.

Students can learn more about profile optimization, tech and soft skill development, and additional career resources in this blog post, and organizations who wish to apply for access to our Talent Source service can click here to do so.

We feel that Talent Source is a natural extension of the Nanogree program philosophy, and a direct expression of both our mantra—Students First—and our message—Be In Demand.

When we first began to shape what would become the debut Nanodegree program, foremost in our collective minds was a core belief often expressed by our founder and CEO Sebastian Thrun, that the ultimate value proposition of education is employment. As we investigated the full measure of what this meant, and how it translated into an actual program, we came to realize that what we were engaged in was a wholly new iteration of outcome-based education, and as such, the value proposition wasn’t so much a job in and of itself, but the life a job makes possible.

From that moment on, we knew that the process of connecting students and employers had to be something special, something elevated, something unique. Top students, top skills, top organizations. That’s Talent Source. Where the job you want, becomes the life you deserve.

Join existing hiring partners:

Talent Source hiring partners