Saturday, February 7, 2009

Promote Yourself

Yesterday, Drake University hosted a Spring Internship and Career Fair. Due to the hiring freezes, cutbacks and downsizing demanded by the economy, internships and jobs were scarce and fewer businesses attended the fair this year that in years past.

Clearly, the opportunities are significantly limited. So, what can students do to make the most of it? I know that stutters, blank stares, and “ums” a
re definitely out of the question when tryig to make a good first impression, but what if I want more than just a good first impression? What if I will not deem average as acceptable? What if I want to be remarkable?

There is no perfectly formulated solution for instant success just as there are no step-by-step instructions for life. In spite of this, I have acquired a few useful tools that I believe have given me a leg up in networking situations. The most prominent of which comes from Laura Allen, the cofounder of 15SecondPitch, a company that trains people how to sell themselves more effectively. Ms. Allen has undoubtedly found a way to make a remarkable first impression with a great personal pitch.


1. Who Are You?
Potential employers know nothing about you, yet. Here is your chance to tell them, clearly and briefly, exactly what you want them to know. Remember, it is the first thing they will hear about you and like it or not, first impressions stick.

2. What Can You Do?

What makes you better than the next candidate? This is your chance to 'wow' them and show off your accomplishments. Just make it brief and by all means, avoid sounding full of yourself. Confidence and cockiness elicit two very different responses.

3. Provide a Call to Action

This individual knows a little about who you are and w
hat you can do for their company, but the ball is still in your court. You must be clear about what you want from this interaction. Are you looking for an internship or a job interview or are you just looking to expand your network?

4. Practice Makes Perfect

Practice. Practice. Practice. you can practice for yoursel
f in a mirror, for a few good friends who will give you constructive critcism, or you can record your personal pitch and listen to how you really sound. It does not matter how you practice, as long as you take the time to actually do so.

Now that you have an effective personal pitch, wher
e should you use it?
  • When introducing yourself at career fairs
  • In response to "tell me about yourself" in your interviews
  • Networking events and when meeting with professionals