Market Yourself: A Guide for Veterinary Students
Check out the essential guide to defining who you are, where you want to go and how to get there. It all starts with your personal brand!
You may think marketing yourself starts with a CV or resume, a cover letter or video, or an interview. But, there’s a step before that—and it’s an important one! The first step is defining for yourself who you are and who you want to be. You need to develop a plan and a vision of yourself in the future. These may seem like abstract and difficult concepts, but, the better you can answer questions about yourself, the easier it will be for others to understand who you are and whether you’re the right person for the club officer position, job or volunteer opportunity.
Is defining yourself an easy process? No way. Mapping out your plan and vision is a comprehensive and thoughtful journey that doesn’t happen overnight. Think about it for a moment—this is BIG stuff. It’s the way you want yourself to be perceived by others and also how you want to live your professional and personal life.
But we can guarantee this: organizing your thoughts and creating your personal vision today will pay you dividends later. Start today by following this guide (and don’t rush!):
Define Your Vision and Plan
It’s often been said that if you don’t know where you are going, then any road will work—but you also won’t know when you’ve arrived! Therefore, the first step to marketing yourself is to create a vision.
Answer these questions to start building your vision’s foundation:
- Who do you want to be?
- What do you want to be doing?
- Where do you want to be doing it?
- When do you want to get there?
Defining a vision, and creating a plan to reach that vision, will help you organize your time, focus your efforts and give you a sense of accomplishment to keep you motivated. As you answer these questions and start developing your vision, begin your draft of a formal vision statement.
SWOT Analysis and SMART Goal Setting
To get where you want to go, it’s important to know exactly where you are now. Conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. List your strengths and weaknesses, the opportunities you see ahead, and the threats you face. This will help you develop your career plan and achieve your vision. Remember to take your time. Be like your patients and ruminate.
The next step is to create SMART goals—goals that are crafted to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Sensitive. Check out this step-by-step roadmap on creating SMART goals, courtesy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Think of your car for a moment. Everyone agrees that performing scheduled car maintenance is more efficient than waiting until your car needs repair. The same thing goes for your career. Career plans have to include scheduled maintenance. Mark dates on your calendar for when you will perform your “career audit.” On those days, explore what is working and what is not, and adjust the plan. Be flexible and re-evaluate your plan to ensure it continues to keep you on the path to achieving your career goals.
With your vision, goals and plan well-defined, turn your attention to the task of marketing yourself. Marketing can take many forms: face-to-face meetings and networking; writing your resume, CV and cover letters; creating a website and engaging in social networks; and more. Use these tools from the AVMA to put together your marketing plan:
Face-to-face marketing - If you’re looking for a job, be mindful that you’re always in the process of marketing yourself to those you meet. Whether you’re talking to a friend, attending a networking meeting or actually in a job interview, learn how to be prepared.
Written marketing - Written material is an important part of every job search. Get tips for writing cover letters and CVs, and learn about other writing opportunities that can showcase your skills.
On-line marketing and communications – Check out the available tools to help you become an expert in self-marketing via social media and email.
Now take a breath and relax. This soul-searching benefits your personal and professional life. Defining your vision will give you a better understanding of who you are today, and from there you can more easily figure out where you want to be in the future. It’s worth it.