23. We’ll Be Right Back After This Message from Our Sponsor—Building Your Personal Commercial
The most effective way to use the newfound self-knowledge you’ve acquired over the past several modules is to create a “personal commercial”—a brief statement of who you are that you can use in networking and interview sessions whenever people ask you to, “tell me about yourself.” Unlike your personal brand statement, this isn’t a private meditation you’ll use to guide your life choices—it’s an introduction to who you are which you’ll use to impress others. In this module, we use the template set out in the book Be Sharp to help you craft your own personal commercial.
To craft your own “personal commercial,” write a brief statement advertising your strengths that you can keep top of mind for when people ask you to tell them about yourself. We’ll summarize the steps to building your own commercial outlined in Paula Asinof and Mina Brown’s book Be Sharp below, though we do recommend investing in it yourself.
- Make a strong first impression based on your essence.
Your essence factor is made up of the essential qualities you exhibit. Write down three or four words that describe your essential qualities as a student and soon-to-be professional, then add an adjective that reveals a dynamic quality about you. Describing your professional self this way sets the stage for a great first impression. For example, “I’m Mary Brown. I am a tech-savvy business student focusing on marketing at the Eller School of Business.”
- Show how you’re in the know.
Your guru factor identifies your knowledge and expertise. To find your guru factor, list your special areas of knowledge—what you know and what you’ve done. Choose one or two areas of expertise that are relevant to your goals. If you struggle with this step, try finishing the statement “People recognize my expertise in . . . .”
The guru factor is about what you know, not just what you do. For example, “After spending 3 years in the business school, I took my expertise into an internship with Honda Motors where I developed a marketing strategy aimed at students.”
- Identify your best material.
Your star factor is what makes you special in the way you get things done. It can describe your personal qualities, professional characteristics, or your style in how you apply those qualities to your work life. To find your star factor, list the qualities and attributes that set you apart from your peers. Choose a few that are important to your success and describe why they matter.
The star factor includes words that describe you, such as “I’m known for . . . ,” “I’m recognized for . . ., or “Others describe me as . . . .” Tell how your star factor is important to what you do and demonstrate how it is valued by others. For example, “My advisors recommend me to escort recruiting companies on campus visits because they feel I represent the department well.”
When you’ve taken all three steps, put them together to create your personal commercial:
“I’m Mary Brown, a tech-savvy business student focusing on marketing at the Eller School of Business. After spending 3 years in the business school, I took my expertise into an internship with Honda Motors where I developed a marketing strategy aimed at students. My advisors recommend me to escort recruiting companies on-campus visits because they feel I represent the department well.”
Many cultures teach that it’s impolite to talk about personal accomplishments, so for some of us, it can be hard to do. Well, now’s the time to get over that! When you’re creating your personal commercial (and applying for school admissions or jobs in the workforce), you absolutely should not feel shy about what you’ve accomplished. Think of all this information you’ve gathered not as an excuse to brag, but as a factual account of what you know. It can help to use the accomplishment statements you wrote in the Don’t Hide Your Light Under a Bushel module to form the foundation for your commercial.
Are you ready for your closeup? Let’s start creating your commercial. The easiest way to do it is to take it step by step.