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Fresh Out of School: 6 Ways to Jumpstart your Career

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Fresh Out of School: 6 Ways to Jumpstart your Career

Being fresh out of school and unemployed is one of the toughest times in one’s life. As if having to deal with student loans was not enough, the graduates also have to start fighting for a job. And the thing that could make this even harder is having the wrong diploma. For this same reason many students research the job market before choosing a major, a staggering 82% of them, in fact.

Moreover, many students are encouraged to go for a STEM degree, believing that this will make it easier for them to find a job, according to the Accenture Strategy 2015 US College Graduate Employment Study. It seems as though the newer generations are thinking in a practical and long-term way, because many of them could end up jobless if not careful.

Unfortunately, this is the cruel reality, but with a little bit of hard work, willingness to push on, and some creativity, these young 20-somethings could find employment sooner than they expect. Here are a few strategies that could help recent graduates jumpstart their careers.

1. Set up a LinkedIn account and mind your manners on other social media websites

The first thing you should do, if you want a job, is make a quality resume. It should serve as an effective selling pitch for your skills, education, and experience. When an employer looks at it, they should want to call you based only on that piece of paper. However, as well as having the physical resume, you should make an online one by setting up a LinkedIn account.

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Be wary, as this is a strictly professional platform. People use it to find employment, recruiters use it to find employees and serious entrepreneurs use it to make business connections. It is a great way to connect and build a strong professional network you could use in the future. Nevertheless, before setting up, learn all about the rules and the best way to make your profile effective. (For example, by using the right keywords or writing a great summary that stands out.)

One more thing to pay attention to, when you start looking for a job, are your other social media accounts. When you apply for a job, be sure that the recruiter will look you up online. Everything connected to you will pop up in that search, so exhibiting good online etiquette is a must. Deleting your drunk photos, profanity-filled posts, and any other incriminating thing would be a great idea.

2. Start freelancing to get used to working and earn some initial money

Freelancer on laptop

    While you are job hunting, try working as a freelancer to get a sense of the work ethic. However, if you are good at it, with time, it could turn into something bigger and better. Perhaps, you’ll continue freelancing even when you are employed full-time.

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    Being unemployed means being broke. So, doing freelance work gives you the opportunity to earn at least some money. It may not be much at first, but at least you won’t be completely penniless. And if you decide to try it out, there are many websites where you could find clients and offer your services.

    3. Prepare a tailored resume for each job you apply to

    This is important to mention because many people do not understand the process of making a resume and a cover letter. You should create an all-encompassing “master resume” with all the information about your formal education, courses you’ve taken, skills, hobbies, volunteering experience, the works. When you start applying for multiple jobs, tailor the CV to the job in question using the “master resume” as a starting point.

    Every work position is different, so every job application should be different, too. Also, if you are obliged to send a cover letter, write a new one each time. Do not send the same cover letter. Having a bad, non-updated resume, leaves a bad impression of you. It means that you are too lazy to make an effort, or that you are not familiar with the general rules of job hunting.

    4. Start reading books on business, body language, human dynamics and negotiation

    Staying educated after college is a must. When someone says educated, it means being up to date with current events, changes in the industry you want to work in, business news or how companies operate nowadays. You find information on all of this by browsing the internet or reading books. You should read about the business world to learn how things really work, and what it takes to get ahead.

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    For example, working 9-5 was once the norm, but today more and more companies are starting to cut down on the working hours and switching to 6-hour work days. Also, a lot of companies now have open-space offices, instead of those little cubicles.

    Another good topic to read on is body language and how humans interact with each other. Understanding human psychology would benefit you greatly. It could help you understand the behavior of the people around you, and allow you to effectively resolve conflicts and tailor your approach to different personality types.

    Additionally, you would learn how to easily communicate with others in general, without losing your temper or failing to get your point across. Good manners, confident body language, a positive attitude and a few strategic sentences here and there can often get you further in your career than sitting quietly in the corner and churning out reports, hoping that your hard work will get noticed.

    5. Expand your technology-related skill sets

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    Technology and science

      Having the right qualifications and being a people person are important important in business, but you also need to be familiar with the latest technology. And I’m not just talking about knowing how to effectively use the MS Office Suit and having professional-looking social media profiles – you need to master the type of software used in your industry, have some basic computer maintenance skills, have working knowledge of popular cloud-based services, be familiar with some of the latest tech gadgets and so on.

      After you master those basic technology skills, you should work on more complicated ones. For example, learn HTML, Java or WordPress. Dabble in Photoshop and video editing or learn about digital marketing. Luckily, there are many options to choose from, from easy to difficult ones. Whatever you settle for, it will be useful because computer literacy is as important as anything else.

      6. Think about long-term progress

      When you start browsing for jobs and building your career, it is important to think long-term. Think about the future and where you would like your career to go. For example, would you want to spend your whole life in an office or do you want to have more freedom? Do you want to work in only one industry or have mixed types of jobs?

      Consider the risk of locking yourself down in one place without the ability to change anything. The best thing you could do is build a skill set that could be used in several similar jobs. This way you would progress without any difficulties, and switching jobs would be easier, too.

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      There is a lot more to learn about building a career, and how life works in general, but once you’ve got these tips covered, you can learn all the other big stuff through personal experience. Just be sure to work on improving yourself every single day, and be persistent in your job-hunting efforts.

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      Djordje Todorovic

      Blogger, Gamer Extraordinaire

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      Last Updated on August 25, 2021

      Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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      Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

      As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

      Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

      According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

      “Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

      A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

      What Is Your Personal Brand?

      “Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

      Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

      Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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      I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

      A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

      Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

      Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

      Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

      In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

      According to Castrillon,[2]

      “One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

      The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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      As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

      In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

      “if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

      When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

      The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

      Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

      The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

      5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

      These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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      1. Set Your Personal Goals

      What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

      2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

      Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

      1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
      2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
      3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
      4. What makes you different from others like you?

      The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

      3. Write Your Professional Story

      Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

      4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

      Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

      5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

      A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

      The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

      Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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      As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

      Other People’s Stories

      Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

      Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

      Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

      “your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

      So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

      Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

      Reference

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