While my younger son has been spending his spring break searching for a summer job, I have been trying to advise him on honing his interviewing skills. Aside from the usual confident smile, firm handshake, enthusiastic demeanor, I thought I might need a little more outside help to set him apart from other competitors, so I decided to consult my bathroom bible AARP Magazine. In the article Nail That New Job Andrew Reiner says, "It's time to make yourself more relevant." He suggests doing this by utilizing social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as taking career coaches recommendations "urging clients to morph their online profiles into resumes and take up blogging and tweeting, shouting their expertise from the cyber rooftops until their digital lungs are hoarse." Looks like senior may be able to help junior after all. Is it possible that Charlie Sheen really does know what he's doing?
Reiner credits Tom Peters in the 1997 article Fast Company, "It's time for me - and you - to take a lesson from the big brands. Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEO's of our own companies: Me Inc." I don't know any college student who couldn't relate to that concept especially since everyone born between the 1970's through the 1990's is considered part of Jean Twenge's Generation Me.
Andrew Reiner expounds on the fine art of Unique Selling Propositions, "USP's are vital to developing our own brand, because they demand that we pinpoint what sets us apart and play up our achievements."
Some examples include Starbucks and Domino's as well as individuals Oprah and Mother Teresa. The underlying theme is "consistency," which is made possible by constantly popping up on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. This sounds surprisingly similar to subliminal advertising as cited in Marshall McLuhan's 1967 book The Medium Is The Massage. All the basic tools that he wrote about in the 60's have been recycled for the Internet. In a way Starbucks is the new Coca Cola and it's seen everywhere from your TV screen to your IPhone. If only my son was looking for a part-time job as a Mad Man, then this information would really come in handy; fortunately, he's not quite old enough for 3 martini lunches.
The AARP author offers some other tips with the aid of brand strategist Catherine Kaputa, "We can grow confidence by understanding it comes from self-acceptance Accepting yourself is the most important ingredient in the self -confidence formula." She also recommends to,"practice your elevator speech, a short verbal pitch that conveys who you are, what you do best, and what you're looking for. Keep it around one minute. Strong, personal authentic stories help give your brand credibility and set you apart from the competition. And remember what your mother told you: Stand up straight! Command the space you're in." Thank you Ms. Kaputa, this last part almost brought tears to my eyes. You're never too old to listen to your mother.
In summary, Reiner's article suggests that we should all jump on the World Wide Web ride before we become obsolete. It is our responsibility to become our own self-promoters, but at what cost? Andy Warhol's 15 Minutes of Fame has sky-rocketed into Charlie Sheen's Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option Tour. He's a fine example of branding gone amok, but the more he waves his machete, the more money comes rolling in. Hopefully, my son will use some of the inter-generational advice that AARP offers to promote his own unique brand of an honest, hard-working individual, and his sincerity will outsheen the rest.