So You’re Graduating from College – Now What? Part 1

How to position yourself for success and not be a statistic!

We live in a time when a college education does not guarantee one a career or job. With so many people unemployed who have degrees, employers have options. It used to be that the young-college graduate was preferred, because he or she lacked experience but knew all the latest stuff; hence an employer could pay less for cutting-edge technological knowledge capital and have someone that would be with the company for years to come.

Reality Check

However, today, with SO many unemployed (over 93-million people or approximately 38% of the working citizenry according to Caroline May of an employer can now choose someone with vast experience (which is worth gold) for the same they would’ve paid a college graduate. Disagree? Look at the stats of how many college grads are moving back in with Mom and Dad—as of 2011, it was 45% according to The Atlantic—because they can’t find meaningful employment.

Obamacare made it that a young adult can stay on Mom’s or Dad’s healthcare plan up to the age of 26, due to the lack of jobs. Moreover, many employers are slashing hours to 29 or fewer per week, to avoid having to provide healthcare, due to the new healthcare law. Therefore, if one IS able to find a job, it’s not enough.

While this may sound bleak, opportunity is still out there! The difference now is you must separate yourself from the large masses. You must position and brand yourself early on (while still in college) so that when you DO graduate, you have value to offer that will make you a better candidate. The question is, “How do you do this?” Great question! Let’s visit this.

You are a Product in the Marketplace

product in the marketplaceThe first thing you must come to understand is that you are a product in the marketplace. As the late Jim Rohn (noted business philosopher, author and public speaker) would say, while everyone is valuable in the eyes of God, in the marketplace, when you are starting out, you’re not worth very much. You need to change that! And, in today’s social-media and mobile-connected world, it’s not enough for you to know your stuff; you need to let the world know you know your stuff, ahead of time.

Employers no longer look at a résumé with the same weight they once did. After all, anyone can write a résumé to reflect what he or she wants to reflect. Therefore, while it’s still considered part of one’s application process, it takes a secondary position to one’s online profile.

Social Media: The New Résumé

social media resumeMore and more companies are doing online background checks (read Your Reputation is Everything! Are You Managing it Online?). Some outsource it to professional companies who miss nothing; others do them in house to avoid the cost. Whichever check they do, what you’ve been posting, sharing and uploading, and who you’ve been connecting with will tell a tale far more accurate than any résumé.

Companies look for four specific things:

1. Do you have any skeleton’s they need to avoid?

2. Do you fit their corporate culture?

3. What do you really know and are passionate about?

4. While this one is not as important, how big is your social-media footprint (the totality of your reach), it adds value.

Assuming you pass the first three criteria, your online reach tells them you know how to use social media, you have an audience they can introduce their company too and you can help their social strategy flourish. So remember, size matters!

House Cleaning

Therefore, the first thing you must do is cleanup your social media. What do I mean by this? Those tweets, memes, photos and posts you thought made you look cool among your peers; the ones with raunchy, offensive or borderline offensive innuendo, nasty jokes, drunken-party pics and sexually motivated content—you need to remove them before you do anything to attract attention to yourself online or apply for a job.

And if you have some stuff hidden in a long-tail network you thought no one would ever find, get rid of it too. With photo-recognition available online, the algorithms will see your picture on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. and connect the dots. Next thing you know, the image in the small niche network you thought no one knew about is on your online-background check.

So the rule of thumb is simple. If you in anyway would be embarrassed to let a potential employer see it—get rid of it!

growing you networkStart Building an Audience and Foundation

Okay, now that house cleaning is done, it’s time to start building a foundation. You need to connect with people who will eventually be consumers of your content. However, at the moment the goal is to just grow your network!

The one thing you need to remember is that people use social media for three reasons (businesses are excluded from this statement, since they have other goals and metrics) and it’s to be:

1. Entertained

2. Informed

3. Helped

So you want to be able to share content that is reflective of who YOU are that is fun, informative and helpful. The combination of the three will make sure you’re never boring, you hit a diverse mix of hot buttons and attract as many people as possible. If you’re not sure what to share, two good tools to use are:

  • Google Alerts: You can set alerts for the topics you are interested in and get daily updates to choose from. Always share with a thought as to why you found it interesting. If you follow me on Facebook, you will see what and how I share.
  • StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon allows you to select categories of interest and then you just stumble, by pushing a button. When you do, it will bring up great stuff to share.

Key networks to build are:

  • LinkedIn: This is the primary one for you, as a professional. It’s also the one that adds the most value.
  • Twitter: Twitter is important because it’s where news breaks.
  • Google+: While the future of Google+ is up in the air, it’s still active and Google uses it as a barometer for SEO, and verifying original content and authorship.
  • Finally, Facebook: While it’s the largest, it’s not the most effective for non-emotional business. They are very controlling and limit your reach to less than 2%. Not worth it; but since it’s the 800 Lbs. Gorilla, you can’t avoid it.

I recommend reading So You’re Not Getting the Whole Social Media Thing. It’s a two-part article. Very informative.

These are the steps to lay the foundation. Now, this doesn’t mean what I will share in part two isn’t being done simultaneously (at least for most of it) with laying your foundation. So stay tuned for next week’s part two, where I will share:

  • Branding yourself
  • Positioning yourself
  • Becoming a thought leader
  • Designing your most important asset—your website and blog

In the meantime, I want to leave you with a recommendation for your listening library. I highly recommend everyone to get Challenge to Succeed by Jim Rohn. I think this should be mandatory listening for all college students. This seminar changed my life!

As you will learn… “If you work hard on the job, you’ll make a living. If you work hard on yourself; you’ll make a fortune!” To your success.

Continue on to read Part 2


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