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Financial Education for Everyone

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In today's digital world, most first impressions are presented online through your social and professional network profiles before you personally introduce yourself to anyone. Hiring managers, recruiters and other prospective employers will take a look at all of your digital profiles as part of their process for reviewing candidates. It helps to establish a personal brand that presents you favorably and differentiates you from other candidates.

Preparing for the Search

How do you appear online? Here is a beginner's guide to creating your professional brand.

Know who you are and what you offer. It's important that what you present about yourself online is accurate personally and professionally. Your personal brand is a representation of what employers can expect when you are hired. How do your personality and character inform your professional background, skills and abilities? Understand both your strengths and areas for improvement to guide you in your search for the job that best fits your skills.

Build a personal website. After you establish what your personal brand is, the next step is to make it available online. In addition to having a professional networking account with your resume and contact information, consider creating a personal website or online portfolio that showcases your work and skills if it is appropriate for the position you are seeking. This added info offers hiring managers a quick and easy way to understand what you do and what kind of value you can add to a company or particular job role.

Create your professional message for a targeted audience. The overall message of your personal brand should speak directly to a particular intended audience. No matter your profession, tailor your online professional profiles to match your industry or desired career. Refer to job postings to determine what kind of words, terms and descriptive qualities are appropriate for you to include in your online profiles. The more specific you can be in communicating your strengths, skills and the solutions that you offer, the more you'll stand out among other candidates.

Market your new online brand by networking. Your personal brand is essential for promoting yourself. Make it known across your personal, professional and social networks. Market and highlight your skills, expertise, abilities, knowledge, experiences and accomplishments to form your professional reputation. You never know who will share your information and pass it along to a possible job connection.

Update your personal brand. As you acquire new skills and more experiences, the messaging about your brand may change. Keep your networks updated with your accomplishments and any other professional developments. Depending on your industry, you may even keep your personal brand relevant by sharing industry news, original blog posts and invitations to industry-specific events and meet-ups.

The Resume
Your resume details your professional experience, skills, education and activities that help you stand out as a job candidate. It is one of the most important things you'll present to potential employers. Your resume deserves special preparation.

  • Make it stand out. Make sure your resume stands out by incorporating smart, organized content and appealing design.
  • Stay relevant. A well-written resume should focus on skills and experiences that are relevant to the specific position you are applying for.
  • Showcase your abilities. Include your education and other applicable experience along with any awards you've earned.
  • Shorten it to one page. Prioritize the most significant information and filter out insignificant details. Before sharing your resume, have a trusted friend or colleague proofread it.
  • Revise and update. As you continue down your career path, remember to update your resume with current work experiences so it is ready to share if a new opportunity unexpectedly arises.

Resume formats vary by industry. What's acceptable and expected for one type of job may not be for another. Make sure that your resume is appropriate for the jobs that you're applying for by researching proper formats and styles online. Take the additional step to have someone proofread your resume.

The Cover Letter
Your cover letter will likely be one of the first things potential employers will look at. Therefore, it's important to ensure it's a valid — and impressive — first impression.

  • Include a cover letter. Many employers request a cover letter, but even if they don't, it's wise to write one anyway that is relevant to the specific job you are applying for.
  • Avoid regurgitating your resume. Use the cover letter as an opportunity to expand and elaborate on the information already provided in your resume.
  • Demonstrate your writing skills. This is an opportunity to exhibit your voice and writing skills. Organize the letter in a coherent way and proofread for errors.
  • Know your merits. Identify what you will bring to the company and how your skills make you a strong candidate for the job.
  • Use numbers. Statistics shouldn't overwhelm your cover letter, but including important data helps prove you are capable of achieving results.