We recently interviewed Susan Caplan, author of Marketing Yourself to the Real World: 10 SIMPLE STEPS to gain a competitive edge in the job market.

What is the number one thing that someone can do to ensure that they will be more competitive in getting an internship or job?

The biggest mistake people make is not preparing enough to get the job, or internship, they want. I suggest running the job search like a business. In fact, today it’s considered the business of getting a job….and the business is about marketing YOU.  The best way to gather speed in your career is to figure out a way to create your own personal brand that leaves a lasting impression.

 People take away an impression of you from what they see and hear…and decide in an instant their perception of you. First, decide what your greatest skills and strengths are and be able to articulate them quickly. Second, put together a toolkit that will sell you.

 What kind of tools are in this toolkit?

Make sure that everything you do is consistent around branding YOU.  The top tools that I suggest you put in place upfront are:

  • Resume
  • Personal Business Cards
  • Elevator Pitch
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Appearance

 Can you elaborate on appearance?

You need to package yourself to make the impression you want.  I suggest putting together at least three “work” outfits that say you want the job. Make sure they are always clean, pressed, and presentable. If you are not good at putting things together, I suggest going to a major department store with personal shoppers who will be happy to put together some outfits especially for you. The outfits don’t have to be the most expensive, but spend as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to go to Target or Kohls as they both have a line of professional suits.  This is about marketing YOU and making a great first impression.

 And what’s an elevator pitch?

You are going to meet a lot of people during your job search. It’s critical to be able to explain what you’re looking for in a few sentences. I’ve heard this called a number of things; a 60 second pitch, a quick sell, and an elevator pitch. The name elevator pitch means that you should be able to tell someone about your job search efforts in the time it takes to ride an elevator. 

Some people say your elevator pitch should take around 30 seconds, some say no more than two minutes. Usually it runs around 125-225 words. A simple way to think about writing it is in these four steps: 1) say who you are, 2) describe what you do, 3) describe why you are unique, 4) state your goal.

 About Susan Caplan

Susan Caplan is a writer, teacher and skilled business communication and marketing specialist. She is an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University teaching career development

SPECIAL BOOK OFFER: Susan is providing a 15% discount if you order her book Marketing Yourself to the Real World: 10 SIMPLE STEPS to gain a competitive edge in the job market

Click here and put in the special discount code:  EMPOWERING LATINAS 

 (Hurry, valid only thru APRIL 5, 2012)