5 tips for making a meaningful connection with employers

The Fox School has maintained a focus on student professional development with the launch of the Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD). Since 1997, CSPD has served as a vital link between Fox students and the business community and a comprehensive resource for students on successful entry into the professional business environment.

In addition to providing resume critiques, interview preparation, career and industry awareness development, and placement services, CSPD also offers guidance on impression management, including personal branding—an increasingly important tool in 2018 for jobseekers, whether you are a current Fox student or experienced graduate.

What is a brand? The promise of an experience, advises Janis Moore Campbell, director of graduate professional development for CSPD. In a job search, communicating your personal brand—including the “experience of you that you promise” to an employer—is essential to standing out.

But how do you present that experience before getting your foot in the door? Job seekers must establish and reflect a brand online that is relevant to targeted opportunities and employers, says Campbell, and an increasing number of enterprises are expected to use social media, technology, and artificial intelligence for candidate recruitment and applicant sourcing. 

Campbell offers the following tips for reinvigorating your brand and effectively communicating to target employers the promise of you. 

1. Take a realistic stock of your current presence on the Internet. You can control what you upload—your digital footprint. However, you should also stay aware of what others upload about you—your digital shadow. Stay informed on both to limit the disconnect between what your digital footprint reflects and what your digital shadow conveys.

2. Use fact-based, not opinion-based, language. Skip the cliché resume speak—recruiters and employers are not interested in your “dedicated, detail-oriented” opinion of yourself. Stick to facts, like how many years of experience you have, the number of people you manage, and your knowledge of specific technology and software (AP, Python, SQL, Power BI, Tableau, etc.) Highlighting those facts in clear language is crucial as AI helps recruiters sift through resumes. Although applicant tracking systems (ATS) are improving at processing PDFs, for now, it’s best to keep formatting simple and to submit documents in Microsoft Word format.

3. Recommend; don’t ask to be recommended. Recommend others on LinkedIn, but don’t ask for recommendations. Doing so will yield the boomerang effect and you’ll soon discover that colleagues, customers, and vendors will be more than willing to write credibly about you.

4. Strategically volunteer to build and showcase skills. Volunteering is an outstanding opportunity to develop, use, and market a skill that you may not be able to cultivate and utilize in your current role. It’s not enough to just volunteer at the Broad Street Run because you believe in its mission; instead, consider taking a strategic approach to volunteering. For example, if you wish to establish or transition to a career in marketing, consider volunteering on the marketing committee for the Broad Street Run as perhaps a more effective way to give back and contribute to your professional development.

5. Join and network through trade associations. For the most productive networking, meet others within a select field through regional and national professional associations, both online and offline. Nearly every industry or professional trade group has a local or state chapter that hosts a variety of events where you can increase your knowledge, meet industry professionals, and get the inside track on job openings in your area of interest. Professional trade associations and industry groups offer a wide variety of beneficial connections. 

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

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