by Edward Wilson
Let’s say you are an employer and you just interviewed two potential candidates for a position at your company. Candidate X is professionally dressed, is qualified for the position, shows enthusiasm, and asks great questions. Candidate Y is almost exactly the same as Candidate X, except for the fact that candidate Y seems unfriendly and has social media accounts that contain lots of complaints about his school.
Perhaps candidate Y simply had a terrible morning and does really go to a school that merits criticism. And, candidate Y may in fact be the better person for the job. However, based on the information available at the time most employers will choose candidate X. In the end the difference between getting a job offer and not getting one is usually very subtle, which is why young people need help understanding how to effectively develop and display a positive personal brand. Here are some strategies for helping teens and young adults understand personal brands so that they can market themselves to employers.
Strategy 1- Start with Familiar Examples:
Ask your students, “Why do people choose to wear Nike’s or eat at McDonalds?” Is it because the shoes always look cool and the food always tastes great?
Students may have a hard time identifying the effect of brands on their own behavior, so be ready to share clear examples of how it operates in your own life. For example, sharing the story of how you stopped at McDonalds on your summer road trip rather than take a chance on an unknown local restaurant across the street opens up the opportunity to explain that like many people you may choose an option not because it is the absolute best but because you can count on a certain level of quality and satisfaction in the experience. The unknown restaurant could have the best burger you’ve ever tasted but it could also serve the worst, so why take the chance. Brands work because they allow consumers to mitigate their risk and maximize satisfaction.
It is important for young people to understand that employers are also looking to avoid risk and find new hires that they feel are likely to be positive fits for the workplace. Since most young people are just starting out in the world of employment, it is all the more important that all of the signals they send and information they make available to employer be consistent with their best qualities.
Strategy 2- Go over the concept in a group setting
Teens and young adults are in a stage of constant self-development, and this process of defining themselves can be fraught with emotion and difficulty, so rather than going straight to asking them to define their personal brand, start with class and group activities. One way to do this is to have groups of three to five participants select tag-lines and attributes they admire and then work to develop a new group slogan or vision statement. If you want to have groups practice demonstrating this shared brand, you can have them complete a simple team building activity together and identify concrete ways to showcase the brand.
Strategy 3- Help young people explicitly define their own personal brands
Our personal brands exist whether we are aware of them or not. Young people’s actions and behaviors have a direct impact on how other people perceive them. They can develop personal brands that exemplify trust and quality or exhibit poor habitats and attitudes that read as risky to potential employers. Activities which help young people identify their strengths and define their brand can give students the tools to successfully navigate opportunities. Being self-aware and accessing strategies to overcome obstacles enables teens to promote a personal brand that will help them stand out from the competition, open more doors, and in the end will propel them toward a successful career.
For More Information:
- Sample Individual Activities to Help Students Develop Personal Brands
- Signaling Success: Boosting Teen Employment- Report Discussing How Employers View Teen and Young Adult Candidates
- Sample Signal Success Curriculum Pages