Career News Service -Everyone understands that the first impression people have of you is the one that is most influential in getting the job.
And often, that first impression is through the cover letter that accompanies your resume, either online or in the mail. So it's vitally important that your cover letter immediately tells the potential employer who you are, what kind of character you have, how you behave and how you have behaved in the past on jobs or in school.
Giving that right impression is called "Personal Branding"-the act of showing others what "brand" of person you are. And everyone has a personal brand, according to Evelyn Salvador, author of "Step-by-Step Cover Letters" (Paperback $19.95). The problem is that 98 percent of people don't understand what personal branding is, so they fail to use it in their job hunt and career This is unfortunate, the author adds, because personal branding is what sells candidates to hiring managers, wins job interviews and increases salary potential.
"If job seekers learn how to brand themselves well and include their personal brand message in their cover letter, they can generally put themselves in the top 2 percent of candidates-even in a tough economy," explains Salvador. "Personal branding helps you establish a successful, credible identity that gives hiring managers insight into your value proposition and return on investment, making it cost effective for employers to select and hire you."
How does one begin to define their personal brand? Salvador says there are five critical components to consider. She explains these components below (and in her book) and stresses the importance of conveying them in resumes, cover letters, interviews and all other aspects of the job search.
* Assets and features: These are the qualities, attributes, skills and know-how you possess that can be valuable or useful to a prospective employer.
* Benefits: These are ways in which your assets help employers. Benefits might include any type of assistance, advantage or contribution to the employer's mission, objectives and/or bottom line.
* Competitive edge: This is the clear advantage that you have over other candidates by way of certain unique strengths or aspects that make you stand out from others in your profession. It is your individual "marketing mix" of assets and benefits that others may not possess.
* Value proposition: This is the total worth of all of the benefits you can offer an employer in exchange for salary by way of promised deliverables backed by matching achievements. Employers seek candidates whose value is higher than the cost of paying them.
* Return on investment (ROI): This is a measurement of your contributions (expected future value) to an employer. You can get this number by dividing the amount of money you have saved or earned (or a similar measurement appropriate to your field) for your employers by the cost of hiring you. Naturally, prospective employers want this number to be high.
Salvador concludes, "The way to hit the mark in identifying your personal brand is to first determine all of your assets and then develop the benefits these features have to your prospective employer. Add a strong value proposition and a high return on investment, and you will have a marketing-savvy cover letter that will sell you well."