Up until a week ago I was a pretty avid Diet Coke drinker – I’m trying to kick the habit lately. But I’ve realized over the years how good Coca-Cola is at marketing their product to me and millions of others (probably many of you).
Have you ever viewed your dental hygiene job search as similar to how Coca-Cola views their search for the perfect customer?
Okay, I agree. You are not a soft drink, but stay with me for a few minutes as I share how you can easily and successfully use the same “branding” strategies that Coke and others use to turn a potential employer into a real employer.
Just like Coca-Cola, you have a brand. In a nutshell, your brand is a promise of what your employer will get when he or she hires you. Are you great with kids? Are you good at helping patients relax? Do you work hard? Are you a team player?
By now you have probably nodded your head in agreement to all those things and I could probably keep listing you would keep nodding, right?
That’s fine, but dive into your own head and figure out what your brand is – your strengths! Then ask a few of your friends and acquaintances who know you professionally (so mom probably doesn’t count).
Take all that information and create a long list in a Word Document of everything. Leave it all there, but shorten it down to your top three to five at the top of the page – each one could be a word or a short statement. Save this document in the same folder as your resume because this is your brand and you’re going to be using it often as you market yourself as the best employee money can buy.
Okay, so a job opening is posted in an area near you – you’re interested. No joke, here’s a listing I found today as I am writing this that reads like this: “We are a fun, family dental practice looking for a self-motivated, enthusiastic, adaptable team player to join us 1-2 days per week, including Saturdays.”
“Perfect” your lips whisper as your eyes widen. You are only looking to work a day or two a week while you go to school and Saturdays are no problem.
Almost without looking you start to open up your generically-written cover letter and resume, save them as PDF files and begin composing an e-mail to send with your attachments.
Before you send that e-mail, you’ve got some important things to do to improve your chances of getting an interview. It won’t take you long but it does make a difference.
Re-read the ad. They are a “fun” office and looking for someone “enthusiastic,” “self-motivated,” and “adaptable.” In one sentence they gave you a hint of their brand “fun” and the brand they are looking for “enthusiastic,” “self-motivated,” and “adaptable” (which are probably also extensions of their brand).
Now, open up the list of your branding traits. How does it match up? If not at all, then do some more investigating if it’s really the job you want. It’s okay if it’s not a perfect match, so long as you see some areas that are common.
Next, and most important of all, open that cover letter back up and make sure what it says reflects what they are looking for. Because while YOU know you are all of those things, they won’t unless you demonstrate or tell them about it.
Along with the usual paragraph formalities included in traditional cover letters, include a truthful paragraph about how you are a great fit for their office because along with your technical skills you are (bullet these out):
- Have a high level of enthusiasm for dentistry,
- Described by co-workers and friends as proactive or a self starter,
- Uniquely skilled at adjusting to different job duties.
Did you see how I reflected exactly what they were looking for without copying and pasting their words? Assuming you are being honest, you should absolutely marry your brand with their brand in the cover letter. So open up that online thesaurus and find some synonyms that capture what they are saying without being a copycat.
This same approach should also be taken with your resume. Anything they want and you have, make sure you include that in your cover letter AND resume before you send them out.
So what if you find a job listing that tells you next to nothing about them? It’s pretty rare for that to happen, but you can go to their website, visit their office, talk to people that know people who work there.
Anything you can pick up on that will give you clues as to the type of brand they are and are looking for will help you be able to position your brand as a great match with their brand. If you have extra time, you should try and do this anyway, especially if they invite you for an interview. The more you know, the better prepared you can be to match your brand.
Final Quick Tips
I could go on and on a lot longer, but let’s wrap this up with six additional quick tips:
- If you get an interview, you’ll need to turn your brand into an “elevator speech” that you can share within 30 seconds to a minute. Google “elevator speech” to get some ideas.
- Create a consistent “look” or design for your brand on any printed or electronic marketing you do for yourself (business cards, post cards, website, design of your resume, etc.).
- Does your physical appearance match your brand? There’s a wealth of research on colors, clothing, and hairstyles that can help guide you in this area. Search for that, too.
- Have your friends help you with your behavior and mannerisms, again to ensure they are consistent with what you are saying is your brand.
- How about your voice? Nobody likes hearing their voice, but do you sound like you think your brand should sound? Friends are good for helping you with that, also.
- Finally, make sure your social media sites and general presence on the Internet is not inconsistent. Google your name and see what you find. Studies show, most potential employers do this so it’s best to get ahead of that to make sure you are okay with what they see and read.