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Toolkit for Success

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There have been volumes written on how to conduct a successful job search. This is my attempt to boil it down to the essential tools needed to develop your professional brand. First, you need to develop a marketing plan - yes educators this means you. How are you going to sell yourself to potential employers? What is your personal brand i.e. image? What is your competitive edge? What makes you unique? When you leave the room or hang up the phone, what do you want the person to remember about you?

Here are the tools you need to develop.

Email address: Make it professional and include your name in the address

Voice mail: Make it professional and clearly understood, include your first name in the message and keep it to less than 15 words - don't waste the callers' time

Phone etiquette: This is your first impression - don't blow it. Don't pick up if you are distracted (driving, at the store, hanging out with friends). Listen, speak clearly and smile while talking.

Online Image -Facebook: Set strict privacy settings and be aware of your postings.

Business card: Design a card to hand out to contacts that contain your name, email, phone number and 2-3 bullets highlighting your skills. Check out VistaPrint.com to design your cards.

Networking introduction or better known as an Elevator Speech: Prepare a 30 second introduction for job fairs or other events. This introduction may include your educational background, what you are interested in, highlighting a strength or accomplishment, inquiry about the district/organization and a summary. Start with a firm handshake, good eye contact and a smile.

Focused résumé: Build a résumé that highlights your unique skills, knowledge and accomplishments. Yes, you need to have more than one résumé.

Compelling cover letter: Set the hook - letter must demonstrate you have done your research, have the skills required and you painted a word picture that has caught the reader's attention. Remember this also serves as a writing sample demonstrating your ability communicate effectively.

Thank you notes: Provides an opportunity to increase your name recognition, express your interest in the position and show courtesy. More importantly a professional sends a thank-you.

These are the tools in your professional toolbox. No one tool is more important than another, but failure to present yourself as a professional will result in missed opportunities

So when you leave the room or hang up the phone, what will I remember?

Phyl Naffziger
Career Counselor
Northern Illinois University

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