Build a Brand, not a Business


Personal-Branding-BrandWhen taking on a new project, every student should ask themselves why they are dedicating their time to said project, and what do they hope to benefit from the experience.  As a student, if your answer to the benefits is made up of dollars and cents, you are probably not off to a good start.

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The Five Commandments of Job Searching

By: Yolanda Owens

In the current employment climate, landing a job may feel like a task that can only be achieved through divine intervention. But if relying on a wing and a prayer isn’t part of your job pursuit, then here are five employment commandments to help you get to the occupational pearly gates.

Thou shalt not be a spaghetti thrower.
You know that old trick of testing spaghetti to see if it’s done by throwing some against the wall and watching if any sticks? Well many of you approach your job search the way.In your frustration, you’re throwing everything against the wall. We get the concept of casting a wider net. But there is no need to apply for every job on a company’s career site in hopes that one of the applications will stick.

Not only will this leave you with a mess you won’t want to clean, it will also leave employers with the impression you’re not serious about their company or putting any thought into your job search. Be strategic and thoughtful in the roles you apply to. Not seeing anything that fits what you’re looking for? Then check your LinkedIn contacts and find friends with connections to the companies you want to work for and ask for an introduction. An introduction now could lead to an opportunity later…And you won’t be wearing spaghetti on your face.

Thou shalt let hooked on phonics work for you.

Save yourself and the employers whose jobs you’re applying to some frustration and read before you respond. Whether it’s the job description, an email about an interview or potential meeting, an application, or an invitation, take the time to READ (not skim, assume, or guess) what’s being said or asked before you react.

Keep in mind that there could be hundreds of applicants applying to the same job. So the deciding factor could boil down to who’s able to read more effectively without interrupting the manager or recruiter with endless questions that have already been put in writing. Exercise patience and your reading comprehension skills and let hooked on phonics work for (not against) your job search.

Thou shalt always dress to impress.
Just because a company embraces casual Fridays or has a business casual dress code, doesn’t mean you come to your interview dressed for happy hour on the beach. Always dress in professional business attire (suit, tie, skirt, heels…) when going for interviews and make sure the clothing is clean, pressed, and presentable. You should never show up to an interview with mustardy armpits or look like a balled up piece of paper in sensible shoes. Be well dressed so you’re remembered for your many attributes and not your fashion flaws.

Thou shalt not commit stalking.

As a recruiter, this commandment is near and dear to my heart. We understand you want to get our attention and stand out among the masses. But invading personal space will not win you any brownie points in the attention grabbing game. So please don’t blindly friend recruiters and managers on their personal social networks, personal emails, websites, or personal cell phones in hopes of making a good first impression.

Trust me, this is the quickest way to get your credentials added to the recycle bin or blacklisted in larger recruiting circles. Use this as your litmus test; if you’d feel weirded out by someone doing the same thing to you, you should probably rethink your actions.
Thou shalt not talk in generalities.

Employers aren’t looking for generally speaking when reviewing candidates to fill their roles. They want candidates who can give them specific examples of what they bring to the table. So don’t come to the table regurgitating the job description or spouting what someone in the role would generally do.

Instead, talk about what you’ve done in your previous jobs to improve a process, save money, be more efficient, demonstrate your leadership or accentuate teaming skills. Then take it a step further and quantify these examples. Explain how your process improvement caused 25% fewer defects saved the company $5000 and freed up four hours a day in production time. That says a lot more to employers than the fact you created a spreadsheet.

Yolanda M. Owens is a recruiting sensei, intern whisperer and awarding-winning author of How to Score a Date with Your Potential Employer. Learn more about Yolanda and her employer “dating” tips by visiting her website or fan her on Facebook.

Personal Branding: The Seven Deadly Sins

By: Oscar Del Santo

Since the dawn of the new millennium, Personal Branding has been going from strength to strength and is currently being touted as one of the ‘make or break’ factors for career success. Need recent proof to substantiate this claim? How about the inclusion of this blog on the Forbes ‘Top 75 Websites for your Career‘ only last week?

And yet personal branding is not without its (serious) pitfalls. I venture to claim that only a committed and informed minority of those who decide to take it seriously and put it to the test in their careers and their lives end up fully benefiting from it. And this is more often than not the result of them committing one of the seven ‘deadly sins’ listed below which must be avoided at all costs.

1) Dishonesty. Building a ‘fake’ brand that doesn’t accurately reflect on your values, your style and your character is the first (and possibly worst) of personal branding deadly sins. Contrary to popular opinion, a personal brand is not an artificial creation but ideally a truthful reflection of the constellation of elements that define who you are and what you want to achieve. Any compromises you make on the honesty front are a sure recipe for disaster.

2) De-motivation. In order to achieve any worthy goal, a personal brand must galvanize all of your talents and skills, generate enthusiasm and become a self-motivating success story. Problems will sooner or later arise and challenges will inevitably cross your path: unless you are energized by a brand with which you are passionately identified, you will lack the commitment to make it happen and your drive will ultimately flounder.

3) Inconsistency. Ideally your brand must drive one clear and consistent message home to your target audience. Mixed messages confuse people and make them wonder whether you have worked out in your mind what your goals are and how to achieve them. If consistency communicates strength and character, inconsistency irradiates weakness.

4) Isolationism. Even if personal branding may initially appear an intensely individual and even intimate process, the fact is that our personal brands do not exist and/or operate in a vacuum and need the support and endorsement of others in order to succeed. Networking is vital and coming out of your shell and building bridges towards others a must.

5) Self-aggrandizement. If you turn personal branding into a big ego trip, others will be turned off and desert you quicker than you may think. Keeping your ego in check, and adhering to an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses animated by a fair and balanced yet self-critical spirit is one of the bases of lasting personal branding success.

6) Statism. Just like the person behind it, a brand is a living thing; and like every living thing, it must change and evolve and cannot afford to become static for too long before events overrun it and it ceases to attract the right people and opportunities. Be fluid my friend…

7) Over-ambition. Ambition comes in healthy and unhealthy doses. Those intent on achieving goals well above their current station in life who haven’t gotten the knowledge, skills or experience to realistically make it happen should concentrate on acquiring those first before postulating themselves as the next success story. Modern psychology insists that talent is largely a myth and that there was never a virtuoso without thousands of hours of committed practice and a sensible and gradual program to that effect. Wanna become the next Tiger Woods? Work on your swing first and seek to win a local competition before you join the PGA tour in your quest for your first major title.

With honesty, motivation, consistency, friendliness, humility, liveliness and healthy ambition as your personal branding trademarks, I am convinced that your climb to personal branding heaven will be not only smoother and more fun but significantly quicker as you avoid many unnecessary detours. See you at the top!

Jacob Share, a job search expert, is the creator of JobMob, one of the biggest blogs in the world about finding jobs. Follow him on Twitter for job search tips and humor.

5 Strategies to Increase Your Engagement on Facebook

By Michelle Pescosolido

If you want to run a successful Facebook Marketing campaign you will want to start with a Facebook Fan Page that should be built around your brand.  Your brand should be your avatar and what you represent. You want to represent something you are passionate about and that will attract your prospects to your page because of the value you offer on a daily basis.

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Are you learning everything you need to know?

By:  on April 4th, 2012

Most students begin college thinking they’ll learn everything they need to know for their future careers in the classrooms on campus. While you’ll gain considerable knowledge learning facts and figures, theories and policies, you’ll also develop critical thinking skills, learn to work in teams, build leadership skills and begin to see the bigger picture as it relates to your career field and a specific job within that career. At the same time, are you really learning everything you need to know?

Some skills come from experience and others require you to practice … and practice, like public speaking. As you prepare for your future, here are some specific skills that could benefit you in the working world.

Public Speaking:

At some point in your career, you will need to speak in front of a group of people, whether it be a presentation you’re giving or defending your point of view. Even if you took a public speaking class, you should continue learning and practicing how to articulate and organize your thoughts. You can join clubs, such asToastmasters that teach you the basics of public speaking.  It’s a great way to practice with an audience who will give you constructive criticism and encouragement.

Dealing with Tense Situations:

Throughout your life, you will work with many people who don’t see eye to eye with you.  You’ll encounter times when projects aren’t going in the direction you had hoped for or you and a coworker will need to have a tough conversation about processes, ideas or responsibilities.  Learning to take a step back and approach the situation with an effective and constructive communication approach while understanding the emotions of each person involved is key to resolving difficult or tense situations professionally.

Working as a Team:

In college, your team projects often give you the chance to develop your planning skills, teach you how to delegate and build in accountability to your team. Sometimes, you find that you need to be prepared to step in when others don’t deliver. In the working world, you’ll use all of these skills and more.  As you develop your teamwork skills, remember that sometimes it’s good to listensetting team goals and building trust in the group is important, and personalities can have a big impact on the team’s leadership.

Get connected:

Keep up on the latest news from your industry and also potential companies where you might want to work. You should also learn how your targeted companies are affected by current events.  To learn more about the industry, consider subscribing to business publications, blogs, or newsletters by industry associations.

Build your professional network  by connecting with potential mentors or leaders in your industry by asking your professors to introduce you to their contacts. You can also search for professional contacts on LinkedIn and Twitter–but regardless of how you find people, you want to truly connect with them and build relationships. Get to know your contacts personally–don’t connect just to add another contact in your LinkedIn address book. It would also be beneficial to attend professional organization meetings and introduce yourself; be seen, be known, grow your possibilities for contacts after graduation and beyond.

Time Management:

While managing assignments for multiple classes and campus clubs is beginning to teach you how to manage your time, learning to set priorities and meet deadlines are also critical skills. Do you use a calendar or other online tool to track your assignments? Do you make lists to track your responsibilities? Do you procrastinate or set aside too much time for social activities? Take the time now to build good time management skills to ensure your success later on the job.

The classroom is producing an excellent student.  It is up to you to go one step further and produce an excellent employee.



Michele is a Senior Recruiter for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a former assistant director at the University of Maryland University College’s Career and Cooperative Education Center, she’s no stranger to students trying to plan their careers. During that time, she worked with non-traditional college students to gain school credit for on the job work experience. Michele also taught seminars on job searching, resume writing and interview techniques, and partnered with local employers to help students gain employment. At Sodexo, she has continued her interest in shaping student careers by serving as a mentor to an intern in the company’s Future Leaders Program. Michele began her recruitment career in 1999, joining Sodexo in 2008 where she recruits for a range of food, facilities and environmental services positions. Michele holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park (go Terps), is a charter member of a Baltimore area Toastmasters chapter, and a Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) and Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR). When not giggling with her two girls, Michele enjoys writing … and watching the Yankees win, much to the dismay of her husband. Join her on LinkedIn or just Network with Us at Sodexo.

Are You Ready for Your Next Career Move?

By:  on August 8th, 2012


Approaching a manager to discuss your next career move or request a raise are examples of two conversations that create anxiety for many employees. Fortunately at Sodexo, we have anannual conversation with our managers about our professional development and future career goals. This meeting is a scheduled conversation that encourages open conversation and allows each manager to be a mentor  and partner in our professional growth.

But what if you don’t have this type of relationship with your manager? Where do you start when you feel it’s time to pursue career advancement?

1. Do your homework.

What have you done in the past six months or year that would qualify you to move into a new role? Make a list of all of your accomplishments and the ways you have positively impacted your department and your company. You need to be able to demonstrate that you’re ready for new challenges. For example, does your accomplishment list match the expectations for your current role or does it show that you’ve gone above and beyond? Does your list specifically show your potential for growth into a new role?

Identify the position you want to move into and read the job description closely. Do you have the skills and experience required for that role? Have you exhibited the leadership qualities expected in that role or managed similar projects? Do you need to add any skills to your resume? Now is the time to reflect on where you have been and where you want to go.

2. Timing Could Be Everything

While the annual review process could be a natural time for these types of conversations, you may want to approach your manager at another time during the year. In fact, having regular conversations with your manager will help build an open dialogue about your professional ambitions and advancement opportunities within your company. He or she may have some advice to help get you there faster or with greater success.

If this is the first time you’re approaching your boss, it’s important to plan your meeting appropriately so that you don’t catch him or her off guard. Send an e-mail requesting a meeting to discuss your performance and potential. This will give your manager time to prepare for the meeting. Regularly check for new internal listings that are a good fit for your background and experience and use them as examples of your future ambition.

Once you have a list of prospective roles for your future, research the skills needed for each position. This will give you time to strengthen them, through professional development opportunities before applying and interviewing for a specific job.

3. Follow Procedures

Sometimes as an internal applicant, employees subconsciously think they’re a “sure thing” because they already work for the company. The truth is that you have to work just as hard as an external candidate to be noticed and selected for the job.

Follow all application processes accordingly. Ensure that your resume is up to date and reflects your recent accomplishments. Also, giveinterviews the respect they deserve – dress appropriately and prepare yourself just like when you applied for your current role. Don’t assume that the hiring manager or recruiter already knows about you and what you’ve done within the company.

4. Follow Up


Most importantly, don’t forget to follow up. Thank you notes go a long way to impress those who interviewed you. You might even consider sending one to your current manager who has helped you along the way through this process.

If you’re not selected after the interviews are done or the timing is not right, talk with your manager and ask for feedback about how you can gain the necessary experience to be considered for similar roles in the future.

Your success in advancing your career relies strongly on your preparation. The best advice I heard once was to show your potential by being an exemplary employee in your current role. The more you act like the person you want to be, the more likely you are to get there.


Trish is a senior communications manager for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a member of the marketing and communications team for Sodexo’s Talent Acquisition department since 2010, Trish is an employment expert who aims to educate job candidates about the hiring process, networking opportunities and the culture of Sodexo. A graduate of Marist College (BA – Psychology) and the University of Southern Mississippi (MS – Public Relations), Trish has never been far from the classroom. As a former adjunct professor for the College of Charleston and professional advisor for the college’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, she enjoys helping students reach for their potential and guide them through the process of preparing for their future careers. A lover of technology and gadgets, cookies, chocolate and baking, Trish spends most of her free time raising two small children and competing with husband to obtain the most stamps in her National Parks Passport book. Feel free to connect with Trish or learn more about careers at Sodexo.

Turning a Business Card Into a Relationship

By: Ronisha Goodwin on November 15th, 2011

I give my business card to a ton of students each semester. Sometimes I hear from the students who ask for my card, and sometimes I don’t!

I often wonder why a student asks for a business card and then doesn’t reach out to me. It seems like such a wasted effort! But yesterday a student asked me for tips on how to develop a relationship with a recruiter, specifically what to do after you receive their business card. The student’s question made me consider if the reason why some students don’t contact me after I give them my business card is because they just aren’t sure what to do next. Recognizing that this may be the case, here’s a few suggestions on what you can do to develop a relationship with a recruiter or industry contact after receiving their business card.

Send an e-mail
Start with reaching out via e-mail. The purpose of your e-mail is to reintroduce yourself to the recruiter and open up a dialogue between the two of you. Your e-mail should be about 5-6 sentences in duration and sent within 3 days of the recruiter giving you their business card. Include in your e-mail where you met the recruiter (specify the event….career fair, reception, etc.) and the opportunity or program you’re interested in learning more about or applying for with their company. You may want to include 1 or 2 questions as well; these questions will help your recruiter with shaping their response to your message.

Follow up
You and your recruiter may exchange one or two messages after you send your initial e-mail. You did great by taking the initiative to reach out to the recruiter, so what’s key from here is that you follow up. If you know that the recruiter is returning to your campus or the two of you will be attending the same industry event or conference, you now have a perfect opportunity to send another message.

Your level of follow up will help you stand apart from the masses. I may not remember every e-mail I receive from a student, but I do recall those students who consistently reach out to me or make the effort to build a relationship. Just be mindful that you don’t overwhelm the recruiter with too many messages. I suggest you limit your correspondence to no more than 1-2 messages each semester depending, of course, upon the recruiter’s responses.

Be sure to include details within your messages that will help delicately sell you as a candidate. If since the last time you spoke with the recruiter, you made Dean’s List, were voted into a leadership role within a student organization, or will be studying abroad, these are all tidbits of information worth sharing within your message. Just keep in mind you want to be subtle!

Response time
Lastly, be understanding and a bit flexible in regards to your recruiter’s response time. Depending upon their work and travel schedule, they may not respond to your messages right away. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Remember that the two of you developing a relationship is as much a benefit to the recruiter as it is to you. I’m much more confident when offering a candidate that I’ve interacted with many times versus a candidate that I’ve had limited interactions with before offering them a position, because I feel it’s more likely that the candidate that I’ve built a relationship will accept my offer.

Developing a relationship with a recruiter may initially appear as formidable task, but once you take the first step, you’ll realize it’s much easier than you think!

Ronisha is one of Hyatt’s College Recruiting Managers. Hyatt’s College Recruiters visit more than 30 college campuses each year recruiting top talent at hospitality programs across the country. A graduate of The Ohio State University, Ronisha begin her Hyatt career as a Human Resources Corporate Management Trainee. During her ten years with Hyatt, she has worked at Hyatt Hotels in Orlando, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. To learn more about opportunities with Hyatt please visit, follow Hyatt on twitter @hyattcareers, become a Hyatt Facebook fan at Hyatt Hotels and Resorts Careers and follow the Campus Recruiter blog at

Personal Branding: Time to Reflect and Move Forward

By:  on February 7th, 2012

Now it’s back to school and you’re wrapping up the start of a new semester. It’s exciting to think you’re a little wiser and one step closer to graduation. But are you ready? Have you thought about what’s next, short-term and long-term? Do you need to bring your grades up to apply to that graduate program you’re set on? Have you done enough networking to ask for a few letters of recommendation? Now is the time! It should be sinking in that this whole college experience is moving fast. This wonderfully crazy, stressful, and exciting time won’t be around forever.

Think back to January 2010; did you accomplish the things you were eager to do then?

Here’s what I’d suggest: make a list of the personal branding accomplishments you did within the year. Include networking functions you attended, internship/work experience, and student organization activities as examples. Then make a list of things you didn’t get to do. This list will become your personal branding top priorities in 2012.

Hold yourself accountable–keep this list somewhere you can see daily and work on a task a week, if you can do more often that’s great! If you’ve wanted to introduce yourself to your Dean or register for a conference do it! Don’t procrastinate; let’s try to do more this year than last.

Additionally, if your short-term plan includes a summer internship, T-Mobile will be seeking 112 interns in the areas of Marketing, Sales, Finance & Accounting, Legal, Technology, and Supply Chain. The positions are all open on our job site, Please review the full job description and apply directly to the positions that fit your qualifications.



Desiree is a University Recruiter at T-Mobile USA. She is currently responsible for developing and implementing effective recruiting and branding strategies related to short and long term needs. She does this by partnering with business line leaders to build relationships and establishing realistic expectations. A big part of being a recruiter at T-Mobile is striving to position T-Mobile as an “employer of choice” and facilitate a world class recruiting experience for candidates. Desiree is also responsible for training managers and recruiters on the University and Internship Program. Desiree spends her free time spending time with family and friends, traveling, and volunteering with various groups. She also loves to read and trying anything that is new and fun.

Advance Your Career with Community

By: Michele Posehn on April 24th, 2012

You tweet. You’re on LinkedIn. You’ve got the online networking thing down. But what about offline? Are there some local networking opportunities to consider?

Consider your everyday life. You shop, you vacation, and you dine out; in all of those situations, you are encountering people. Life is the original social platform–minus the 140 characters. I have found myself in many situations that have led to great contacts–dinner parties, sporting events, even striking up a conversation with a stranger while waiting in the grocery checkout line. In your everyday world, the casual encounters of your daily routine can open up a network of connections with limitless possibilities. Consider some of these common–and not so common–places where people are networking offline:

Community Events
Do you participate in local charity events or other community events that businesses might sponsor or participate in? Not only can you meet potential employers or talk to employees of companies you are interested in, you will likely meet many people with years of experience in your industry who can turn into good mentors or someone who can help you get a foot in the door. Tradeshows also offer a wealth of business contacts, especially since companies pay handsomely in sponsorships and usually have a strong onsite presence. Also, check out career fairs at local colleges–your campus Career Services office should have a listing of upcoming events.

Chamber Memberships
In your local community, you may want to consider joining the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber exists solely to promote local business interests, so meetings are usually well attended by business leaders. Chambers meet regularly–often including monthly breakfasts with speakers and business after-hours networking–and are a great way to make an impression on those in your area.

Golf, Sports and More
It’s no secret that many business leaders enjoy a little networking on the golf course. So, if you golf, there is a great chance you could bump into a new contact on the course. But what about local sporting events where companies buy box seats or sponsor a night for their employees to attend? Sometimes being in the right place at the right time can make a casual conversation into something more about a specific company.

Now, consider this. There is a gym in New York City that recently began offering an exercise class for “sweat workers.” The idea is that some business leaders would like to opt out of lunch meetings at restaurants that pack a punch in calories, and get down to business while working out. While this option may not be for everyone, it’s an interesting trend to watch.

While being on social media is important, don’t discount everyday opportunities that present themselves. It’s a great feeling when you look at a crowd of people and realize that any one of them could add value to your job search and build your network.

Michele is a Senior Recruiter for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a former assistant director at the University of Maryland University College’s Career and Cooperative Education Center, she’s no stranger to students trying to plan their careers. During that time, she worked with non-traditional college students to gain school credit for on the job work experience. Michele also taught seminars on job searching, resume writing and interview techniques, and partnered with local employers to help students gain employment. At Sodexo, she has continued her interest in shaping student careers by serving as a mentor to an intern in the company’s Future Leaders Program. Michele began her recruitment career in 1999, joining Sodexo in 2008 where she recruits for a range of food, facilities and environmental services positions. Michele holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park (go Terps), is a charter member of a Baltimore area Toastmasters chapter, and a Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) and Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR). When not giggling with her two girls, Michele enjoys writing … and watching the Yankees win, much to the dismay of her husband. Join her on LinkedIn or just Network with Us at Sodexo.

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