Sam Farrell (that’s her full name) was given her brand at a college sorority event.
“We were warming up behind the scenes and I was bouncing off the walls full of caffeine,” she says. “And when the person making the name tags for us wrote my name, she did it all in capital letters with an exclamation point behind it.” It stuck, and she has used it ever since.
“After I graduated from college I started using it on my resume. It opened up opportunities in the interview process to talk about what my personality is like and what my work ethic is like,” she says. People would always comment on the unique spelling of her name.“ It really opened up conversation,” she says. “It was well received.”
But what does it stand for? What does her brand signify?
“The exclamation point really does express my personality,” she says. “Anyone who knows me knows that I am a very high energy person, pretty much 24/7”. “The other thing the brand says that also follows along with my personality is that I’m willing to dig in and roll my sleeves up. I won’t ask anyone on the team to do anything I’m not willing to do.”
SAM! is now group president of Kforce Health Information Management – a specialist recruitment company. Her brand is on her business cards and her email.
But it took a year to convince Kforce, a publicly traded company, to be conformable changing her email signature and to allow her to be listed on an email directory as SAM!
“I had to do a lot of persuading, but it helped that my business was performing well,” she says. “In communications I would politely respond back that my name is SAM! with an exclamation point, and after seeing it multiple times that way it stuck. “At the last managers’ meeting it became something of a humorous opportunity for our business leader, who said other heads who are performing well might think of adding a dollar sign to the last part of their name.”
SAM! doesn’t just use her brand for her business communications; she uses it in her personal life too. She put it on her wedding invitations, but had to fight with her wedding coordinator who insisted that she should use the traditional full name. She also added that she was her parents’ ‘favorite daughter’.
“Little things like that stand out, even from a resume standpoint and in an interview,” she says. “They are going to give you an edge in the job market.”
As a recruiter, SAM! knows all about the importance of having that edge. “Anything that people can do to make their resumes stand out as different – but not so different – is key,” she says. “You only have so many seconds to make a first impression with people, and the more that you can have a personality or a personal story around that first impression that talks about who you are, the more difference it makes.”
Will she stick with SAM! throughout her life? Probably. “People tease me that I’m maybe like Prince, going to just a symbol,” she jokes.“ But I think I’m just going to keep it SAM! with an exclamation point.” jp