Career Paths

How to match your personal image to the social impact job you want

It’s important that your overall image matches your career goals, especially when trying to get a social impact job. It’s your responsibility to show your commitment to improving the world we live in and to prove your value to the organization. Here are three things you need to work on to improve your personal image.

1. Your elevator pitch

One of the first things you’ll be asked in your interview is “tell me a little bit about yourself.” Your potential employee will expect you to sum up your entire personality in about two minutes or less. Ask yourself the following questions to help you prepare; “What are you passionate about?”, “Why do you want a social impact job?”, “What are your short-term and long-term career goals?”, and, “What skills do you need to achieve these goals?.” Once you’ve got this all figured out, be sure that the jobs you apply for will help you accomplish these goals. For example, if you are looking for a career that entails more hands-on work, you should apply to nonprofits and foundations. If you’d rather work behind the scenes, apply for corporate jobs or jobs where you oversee the operations of an organization. If you’re unsure, take some time to research the different social impact careers that are available. Either way, the jobs you apply for should aid in the skill development you need to achieve your long-term career goals.

2. Your online presence

Before you even make it into the building, your recruiter probably already has an idea of who you are based on your social media. With over 70% of employers researching their candidates online it’s important to make sure that your social media pages are cleaned up and ready for your employer to find. 

You can start this process by optimizing your LinkedIn profile, as this is usually the first place that employers search for you. Every one of your previous jobs listed on LinkedIn should have a description that clearly states the skills you learned while holding that position. If you don’t have a lot of work experience, or if your experience is in a field that is unrelated to your future career goals, then utilize the other areas of your profile, like the education and volunteer sections, to showcase your strengths. Employers are more concerned about what you can do rather than specific positions that you’ve held, so be sure to fully showcase your knowledge and skills on this platform.

Your more personal social media accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are equally important in establishing yourself as a credible employee. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out and engage with experts who are talking about your areas of interest and reshare their content!  This could increase your professional network and even lead to job opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have known about.

3. Your appearance

Once you’ve finally landed the interview, it’s time to focus your attention on your appearance. The first thing people are going to notice about you when you walk in the room is how you look, and, more importantly, if your look matches the culture of the organization. 

If you’re going in for an interview at a nonprofit or start up there may be a more casual work culture and you probably don’t have to wear a full business suit. Instead, opt for a more business casual look that will communicate to your potential employers your professionalism. If you’re going for a corporate job, business professional is always a safe option. 

At the end of the day, you want to feel comfortable with what you are wearing and you want to be yourself! For women we’ve been told the more YOU the better. Try to go for a more subtle look that uses natural-looking makeup. While you want to make a good initial impression, the focus should be on your qualifications for the job, and not on your image!

For men, make sure that your hair is washed and combed. Use soothing shave products to avoid irritating the skin on your face before your interview. Additionally, avoid wearing powerful colognes that will distract your interviewer from you and what you’re trying to communicate to them. You want the focus to be on your relative work experiences, and not how you smell. 

Overall, what is important to remember is that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Make sure that you’re dressed to impress, and you allow the conversation to solely focus on your resume and your achievements to date!

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