The ability to succinctly describe who you are and what your key accomplishments and goals are can set you up for success in the networking and interviewing process. These three components make up a "personal commercial." Creating a personal commercial that accurately reflects who you are, that's customized to a targeted audience and can be delivered with confidence should be the goal of every job seeker. Here is how you can master this process:
First, set your targets. You must first decide your desired outcome and your targeted audience. Are you looking to network to increase business? Are you ready to leave your current role and would like to start interviewing as soon as possible? Are you a student who is interested in internship positions for this summer? A great personal commercial starts with your audience in mind. By determining what you would like to accomplish, you are better able to tailor your statements to engage the listener.
Next, create your introduction. The first sentence sets the stage. For example, "I'm a sophomore at University of California, Davis studying international business with an emphasis on Spanish," is an ideal way for a student to start off. Or, "I'm the founder of Collegial Services, where we launch careers with job placement services, career coaching and business consulting," is more effective for a business professional looking to network. How you start the conversation quickly tells the audience a lot about you and where you are professionally.
After you have your opening, it is time to add some depth. Create one to three sentences that cover your experience, strengths or interests. Give quantifiable details whenever possible, and try to match these to your audience. For example: "I'm an honors student and have really enjoyed my classes in economics, finance and public speaking. I volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and have spent the past two summers helping with a nonprofit that offers tutoring for children with financial need." Or: "I have 20 years of experience as a staffing executive and started my company to meet a growing need to match driven entry-level professionals with companies that offer excellent mentorship but may not have well-known brand names. Our team places hundreds of professionals in roles in sales development, business analysis, associate consulting, software implementation and engineering. Our strength is in matching great people with technical abilities to opportunities that will develop their talents."
Finally, create a closing statement that expresses your goal and engages the audience. For the student: "I am looking to learn more about potential internship opportunities with local firms that work internationally. Do you have any advice regarding how to find these kinds of roles?" For the more seasoned professional: "We are always looking to expand our network of employers that thrive on developing emerging talent. In what roles does your firm hire new graduates and entry-level professionals?"
Now that you have your first draft of your commercial, practice saying it. You can try it with family and friends to get a safe opinion on if it is effective and efficient. You can call yourself and leave it as a voicemail to assess how well it rolls off your tongue and if it is engaging to hear. You may also want to say it to a couple of contacts that don't know you well professionally to see if they get the intended message easily. While practicing may seem awkward, it is a critical part of the process to refine your phrasing. As you work through your wording, look for ways to create a memorable and colorful impression that will stay with the listener. Being remembered (in a positive way) is the true test of effectiveness.
Remember that this is your "brand image." Take the time to make it great. Once you have your three to five sentences for your personal commercial, you have the foundation for success in many networking and interviewing situations. The commercial can be used when told, "Tell me about yourself," in an interview. It is the perfect introduction to an employer at a job fair or a prospective client at a business mixer.
You can use it when asking for a referral from a contact or professor. It also has a place in your "Professional Summary" on your résumé and LinkedIn profile. Preparation goes a long way when it comes to your professional development. By taking the time to master your personal commercial, you are clearly conveying who you are, and you are telling a potential employer that you take your career seriously enough to be prepared.
Robin Reshwan is the founder of Collegial Services, a consulting/staffing firm that connects college students, recent graduates and the organizations that hire them and a certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE). She has interviewed, placed and hired thousands of people across a broad spectrum of companies and industries. Her career tips and advice are used by universities, national clubs/associations and businesses. A Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Robin has been honored as a Professional Business Woman of the Year by the American Business Women's Association. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and as a Regents Scholar from University of California, Davis.