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Is "Be Yourself" Good Job Search Advice?

"Be yourself!"  My mom would give me this advice each time I started a new adventure.  It is definitely a sound strategy when you are trying to make new friends or when you are going on a date, but is it good advice when you are looking for a job?  For the most part the answer is yes.  You don't want to be something that you're not.  However, you only want to reveal information that will help you achieve your goals.  Here are some tips that will help you be both genuine and employable:

Find your brand.  How do you want hiring managers to perceive you when they receive your application and when they meet you for an interview?  Similar to any marketing campaign, you need to decide how to brand yourself.  Are you the straight A student, just graduating from college, who is looking for her first job?  Are you a trendy millennial who is completely fluent in whatever is hot right now?  Whatever brand you choose, make sure that it would be attractive to your target employer and that it is consistent with your skills, experience, and personality.   

Identify your superpowers.  What can you do better than everyone else?  If you're not sure, think about your previous jobs: what types of tasks did you always end up doing?  Were you always asked to calm down angry customers?  Were you often sent in to close a tough sale?  Did they usually ask you to reconcile the accounts when there was a problem?  Make a list of the things that you are good at- particularly the skills that would be of use to an employer.  Once you have found your superpowers, highlight them on your resume. 

Know your values.   What is important to you?  How do you like to work?  Instead of trying to bend yourself to fit into a particular mould, why don't you instead focus on finding a company that is consistent with your values?  If you are willing to take the time to get to know yourself and to prioritize your needs, you will be much happier at work.      

Be professional.  It is important to be genuine but it is absolutely essential that you behave professionally.  Whenever you have to choose between being real and being professional, always choose professionalism.       

Be mindful on social media.  Be aware of what you are posting (and what is posted about you) on social media.  The way that you interact with social media is a personal decision.  However, if you are posting a lot of information about your personal life, you may want to modify your privacy settings so that you can control who sees it. 

Being true to yourself is important because it increases the liklihood that you will find a job, but never forget that the employer is always evaluating you.  Be yourself but be the best possible version of yourself!


(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Aleksa D at