It's finally time for summer dresses, flip flops, a glowing tan and — yes — soul-searching! While the rest of our year is mostly spent rushing to keep up with our to-do lists, the universe conspires with the heat, forcing us to slow down during the summertime.
That makes it the perfect time to reflect on your achievements, then leverage your personal brand to get where you want to be while you have time to really think. Use this summer to jumpstart your career prospects by completing this summer personal branding bucket list.
1. Start by working on your elevator pitch.
For all you “Shark Tank” lovers, the elevator pitch is a well-known term. In a nutshell, it invites you to think of how you would present yourself to someone, usually an investor, in the mere minutes it takes the elevator to reach its destination.
Elevator pitches are not only reserved for entrepreneurs. Any time you find yourself in a situation to introduce yourself to someone, whether an admissions representative, HR manager or recruiter, you need to know how to communicate the best of what you have to offer and get them interested. This is what your CV, LinkedIn bio or personal website should present, too.
When thinking of an elevator pitch, ask yourself:
What are my main strengths?
Where do I want to go?
What about me indicates that path is right for me?
Why should someone choose me?
2. Gain some new experience and insights.
You might notice there is a gap between what you want to do in the future and the skills you need for it. Use this summer to narrow that gap in whatever way possible; it doesn't have to be a new job. Volunteering or a new part-time gig can completely change your resume. Don't ever underestimate the experience you get just from learning how to communicate with people, manage difficult situations and see new responsibilities through. Getting out of your comfort zone and learning how to adjust and thrive in a new environment is the most valuable lesson you can learn.
3. Enroll in an online course or work on your passion project.
Another way to acquire new skills is to enroll in one of many online courses that are available. You can learn anything from data science to medieval history to managing happiness as a policymaker. Take a look at platforms such as Coursera and Udemy, and see if anything strikes your fancy. Recently, big universities such as Stanford and Yale started offering their popular courses online, which is certainly worth investigating.
Taking the first step (or first few steps) to getting your passion project off the ground will keep you happy and help you learn, as well. More importantly, it can be a great conversation starter or addition to your elevator pitch.
4. Create (or fine-tune) your personal website.
Once you know what you want to say and have the skills to back it up, you must find a way to feature all of that in the best light. I strongly believe the best way to do that is through a personal website that you routinely take care of.
Why? A personal website on your own domain is a place you own and control. You can arrange it however you like and no one can take it away from you. Social networks come and go; your personal website is here to stay. Plus, it is a great way to present your multi-faceted personality in one place. It gives you complete control over the image you’re putting out into the world.
Plus, having a personal website says a lot about you as a member of a digital society. It communicates that you know your way around technology, at least on a basic level, which is always a bonus — regardless of the career path you’re pursuing.
5. Keep your social media channels clean
Finally, I know that summer is perhaps the most Instagrammable time of the year, but try to keep your most adventurous experiences in your private library. Social media is increasingly referred to by recruiters to get more information about job applicants, so keep it classy and professional.
These tips will help you spruce up your personal brand so it reflects the true you, and help make it your best summer yet — professionally and personally.
An economist by education, Natasa Djukanovic is the CMO of Domain.ME, the international tech company that operates the internet domain ".ME." She's spent her entire career at the intersection of banking, social media, leadership and technology, and is constantly trying to figure out the secret to being in three different places at the same time.