You are not one thing. In fact, you’re not even 280 things. As Walt Whitman reminds us, you contain multitudes. In an age of TL;DR, though, distilling your personal brand into something short and sweet can be the difference between being remembered and getting lost in the shuffle.
But first things first, what is a personal brand? Think of your personal brand the same way you would a company’s brand. A personal brand creates a clear picture of who you are, what sets you apart from others and what people can expect from you. Want to learn more? Check out these helpful tips on how to identify and hone your personal brand.
And here are some tips for making your brand loud and clear to those you know and those whose attention you’re hoping to attract.
How to Describe Yourself in 280 Characters or Less
You might be thinking describing yourself in 280 characters or less is impossible. What about the multitudes?! But when it comes to being memorable, it’s best to cut through the fluff and get to the good stuff. Here are a couple of tips to get your started:
- Write your story. Start with a list of your talents, experiences, qualities and qualifications. Think about why you got into your field, what motivates you and what problems you’re hoping to solve through your work. If you only had a few minutes with someone, what would you want to make sure they knew about you?
- Think about what distinguishes you. How is your story one of a kind? Do you have a point of view or experience that helps you stand out? This might sound like a high bar, but you don’t have to climb Everest or invent the latest gadget to be different. Where you studied, the different industries you’ve worked in, even the places you lived and hobbies you enjoy can help distinguish you from others.
- Be more precise. Here’s the hard part. Your story and distinguishers combined are probably longer than 280 characters. Jotting them all down is a helpful exercise to get it all down on paper, but before you can move forward, you’ve got to edit. So grab a red pen—or, you know, tap that delete key. The goal is to concentrate on the words and descriptors that most define you and lose the superlatives. Need a little help deciding what makes the cut? Consider some of the biggest brands out there. Even they have to be careful about getting too verbose when marketing to consumers. Coke’s “Open happiness,” and Disney’s “The happiest place on earth” are brief but descriptive statements about what they want people to know about them. Still stumped? Spend a little time on LinkedIn and even Instagram. Is there something about the way people in your desired field describe themselves in their bios that resonates with you?
How to Describe Yourself in 280 Characters on Your Resume
It can be tempting to pack your resume with every project, every award and every client. It’s important, though, to try to keep your #humblebrags focused on what you want people to remember about you. Consider these questions to shrink your resume—from your introductory statement to your experience—without losing the most important points:
- Consider your mission statement. The introductory section of your bio should clearly communicate not just your brand but your purpose. What problem are you hoping to solve through your work? This is your mission statement. Oprah Winfrey’s mission statement is “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” While Sir Richard Branson’s is “To have fun in [my] journey through life and learn from [my] mistakes.” How can you craft your own mission statement? Don’t just tell people you’re “an attorney with ten years’ experience.” Tell them you’re “a justice-loving prosecutor who wants to bring an end to white-collar crime.” Maybe practicing the law isn’t your thing, but think of your mission statement as your Real Housewives tagline. It gives people a little peak into who you are. It’s also your first chance to make an impression, so make it count.
- Grab that red pen again. Once you’ve nailed your mission statement, it’s time to be ruthless in editing your previous roles and responsibilities. How exactly? Think about your work from a bird’s eye view. Worry less about every job duty, and instead focus on the purpose of your work. To use an example, let’s say you’re a front-desk receptionist, instead of listing duties as “welcomed guests, answered phones, monitored logbook, accepted deliveries, sorted and distributed mail,” try “A friendly face to guests and a Jack of all Trades, keeping day-to-day office logistics organized.”
How to Describe Yourself in 280 Characters for a Job Interview
Let’s say you make it passed the initial hurdle of standing out to a hiring managers or recruiter and on to the interview. First of all, look at you and your job interview! High five!
But secondly, it’s just as important in the interview process to think about how to get your personal brand across clearly and succinctly. Chances are you won’t be the only person interviewing for the job, so you want to be memorable (the good kind of memorable). Here are some tips on how to describe yourself in 280 characters:
- Nail your elevator speech. Almost every interview begins the same way: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Spend some time practicing how you will answer that question before the interview. Now that you know what your brand is, your answer should be some version of your brand or mission statement.
- Look for subtle ways to reinforce your brand. Over the course of the interview, you’ll probably be asked questions about your work style, your strengths and weaknesses, and so on. As often as you can—and without being obvious or repetitive—refer back to your 280 character brand. If a part of your brand is a passion for new challenges, for example, when asked about unique work projects, don’t be afraid to give a nod to things you took on because of your passion for trying new things.
- Conclude by telling them what you’ve already told them. As you wrap up the interview, you’ll probably want to reinforce your interest in the role you’re being considered for. This is also a great time to repeat your elevator speech in some way. Remember our crime-fighting prosecutor? She might wrap up her interview with something like, “As I mentioned, I’m passionate about bringing an end to white-collar crime, and I’m excited about this role because it will bring me one step closer to doing that.”
So that’s the skinny on creating and deploying your 280 character personal brand. Think you’ve got your 280-character personal brand nailed? Or maybe you’re hoping to bounce a few ideas off of the group? Share a comment in the comments section.