So, did you see the latest national unemployment report? The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2 percent. It’s been a disappointing couple of months for those of us who think that the national unemployment situation is a predictor of our own employment prospects. Companies are definitely creating more jobs than they’re eliminating, but they are taking their time about it! Most economists estimate there is still only one job opening for every four would-be applicants.  When you find your “dream” job opening, how will you stand out from the rivals jostling you?

Sometimes, we get so busy surviving each day that when an interview opportunity pops up, all we can think to do is respond tactically. “I’ll wear my good navy blue suit” we say, after doing some basic research on the company, “I hope they are impressed with me.” We may think we’re putting our best foot forward, but in reality we’re just being reactive.

Here’s an idea: approach each job interview proactively by communicating a carefully-developed personal brand. I see clients greatly increase their interview “hit rates” when they take time to develop clear messages that showcase their passions, vision, unique promise of value, strengths and skills. These people realize that if companies like McDonald’s and Procter & Gamble have made billions through branding they, as professionals, can gain from implementing the same practice as a lifestyle. These “branded” individuals go into interviews on the offensive, well equipped to talk about themselves in a way that’s self-aware, authentic and clearly strategic.

Here are examples of effective ways you can employ a well-developed personal brand to increase your interview hit rate:

1.  Master the art of the first impression – Learn how to control your verbal and nonverbal communication and generate the desired impact.

2.  Draw attention to your best character qualities – Align the way that you talk about your core strengths, values and skills to the demands of the job in question.

3.  Make history your friend – Use a clear-eyed view of past successes and challenges to sell yourself without inviting false expectations by relating it back to your strengths.

4.  Confidently use style and color – Define your branded look. Employ your understanding of the messages that various colors send to enhance the impressions that you want to be part of your brand.

5.  Communicate uniqueness – Overcome the continued ‘buyer’s market’ by vividly communicating your unique promise of value and positive traits that differentiate you and keep you from being “run of the mill.”

Embracing your personal brand puts you in the driver’s seat in an interview. Don’t wait another day to start taking charge of your future!  Take steps to move towards your dream job!