Create Your Own Brand

By GLORIA LAU

Recently, PricewaterhouseCoopers' Paula Loop was at an event talking to MBA students trying to get noticed. "Those who had unique stories and personal brands still stand out in my mind," Loop, the U.S. and global talent leader for PwC, told IBD. "Everybody else ... a recruiter might not remember at all."

People at any point in their careers, not only those just finishing their master's in business, should develop a professional identity and use it to promote themselves, she says. Loop, based at PwC headquarters in New York City, and Ignacio Gallardo, associate director of career services at the University of California, Santa Barbara, share tips on building such an identity.

• Craft an elevator pitch. "Being able to do this well is invaluable," Loop said. Draft five sentences. The first two should highlight your background. Your middle sentence should cover what you've done recently and show your interests. If you spent the summer managing an orphanage in Thailand, mention it. The final sentences should address what you're seeking in a job and career. Keep it succinct, persuasive and memorable.

Loop suggests this approach: "My background is in consumer products. I've always worked in industries where I sell products to children. Recently I went to an innovation conference and saw all the great toys coming out. I want to join one of those companies to help bring their products to market."

• Highlight desires. "Passion is attractive to recruiters and demonstrates traits such as commitment, well-roundedness and enthusiasm," Loop said. "Do some soul-searching. What excites you when you work? ... What made you feel good about your job this week? These are your passions. When you walk out the door, they're still running through your head."

• Maintain links. Your network begins with family and friends, old schoolmates and folks from prior jobs. Schedule an hour every week to call, e-mail or meet contacts. Force yourself to do this regularly.

• Manage your online brand. Having an appropriate online presence can give colleagues and potential employers a good impression. Google yourself to see what pops up and put together a thoughtful profile, including what you've accomplished, on career networking sites such as LinkedIn, the privately held Mountain View, Calif., company. Keep it updated and invite others to join your network. Said Gallardo: "When I go to networking events, I collect business cards, look the names up on LinkedIn and invite them to connect. I customize the invitation to include something we discussed. ... I also use LinkedIn to connect to people I haven't spoken to in a while."

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