Activate An Effective Personal Brand

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Ben was stuck in his dead-end job as a waiter at the local restaurant in town. By day, he was known as the nicest, more courteous server in the area. By night, Ben attended a local college with the ambition of starting his own social media serves. Ben understood stereotypes and bias. People had the tenacity to put individuals in pigeon holes with their biases. Therefore, Ben started building his online personality with writing insightful articles about social media and running a video blog. He wrote an e-book about social media that received Internet acclaim.

He quietly started a radio talk show. With his persistence, Ben started seeing his effort pay. The restaurant was packed with a bus of college students headed to a convention. Ben was helping out the servers with the big crowd. Suddenly, there was a big commotion in the crowd that involved Ben. Another server came to get the owner about this situation. The owner was afraid that Ben had done something wrong. He didn’t. These college students from out of town were overwhelmed with excitement in meeting the online celebrity “Ben the eWriter.” His online presence had repositioned his personal brand. 

With the impact of the Internet and social media platforms, like Facebook, working professionals can reenergize or rebrand themselves in a matter of minutes. In fact, individuals can actually reposition themselves into new careers with the right strategies.  In today’s job market, people need to understand the concepts of personal branding and how to develop their own personal strategy for employment.  In this discussion, we will examine the concept of personal branding. Individuals will learn how to reenergize yourself and make gain more influence in the process. 

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Know Your Worth: Compensation Negotiation

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As I contemplated my next career move, I knew it was important to know my worth in the market. In a sense, the concept was foreign to me since I had worked 27 years in engineering for the public sector. In securing that job, the only thing that was negotiated was the time of employment.

My desire to have a second career outside of engineering into academia drove me to get meaningful experience as an adjunct professor. Of course, I felt my core competencies were strong as a professor. I had about ten years in academics working part-time. Yet, I also knew that obtaining a full-time tenure track would be highly competitive due to the limited amount of these treasured positions and the number of applicants. 

I personally knew of qualified business professors who could not obtain a full-time faculty position. To increase my marketability, I continued to secure new skill sets and to follow market trends. One of the biggest trends working for me was that many institutions were looking for new faculty who had demonstrated working experience.

Yet, in order to determine my worth, I had to actively apply for academic positions and go through the interview process. With every interview, each prospective employer provided me with a missing piece of my market worth. However, I got this insight by being assertive by asking meaningful questions like “what part of my application package attracted you to me as a candidate.”  

This transparency was contagious. One dean even told me my prospective rank (i.e. salary) in his organization. All of these pieces were critical in helping me negotiate my final position as a full-time faculty because I understood my worth in the marketplace.

In today’s competitive environment, working professionals need to know their worth so that they can be compensated appropriately and they can market themselves toward better jobs. In fact, professionals need to know how to market themselves and promote their personal brand in order to maintain their market worth. Downsizing and layoffs are a way of life for most U.S. businesses.

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2017 Job Strategies for Recent Graduates

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When the graduation celebrations have ended, many recent graduates must consider what they are going to do with their lives. Boy, how things have changed! When I was in college (the 1980s), it was an unspoken rule for college seniors to have a few job offers and have a good concept of what they would be doing. In fact, the question, “where do you see yourself in five years” is a standard question of college recruiters on campus. Answer this question timidly or with revocation, and you were assured not to get a follow-interview. Go home to live with parents was not on my radar or any of my close friends.’

Yet, when I started talking with my students and other graduates from other institutions, the clarity of what they were going to do after college life was murky at best. Surprisingly, the majority of the graduating seniors did not have any idea of what they were going to do. Perhaps, it is generational because Millenniums have a different outlook than Baby Boomers or Generation Xers. However, this mentality is nothing new to me. Working for the federal government for over 25 years, I found this mindset while visiting university campuses across the country.

The situation caused me to research this matter and write my book, Job Strategies for the 21st Century: How to Assist Today’s College Students during Economic Turbulence. I attempted to assist frustrated parents, anxious students, bewildered educators, and others who are deeply concerned about the welfare of recent college graduates and their employability.

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With my co-author, William Bailey, we discovered a huge disconnect between what organizations desired from potential employees, and what today’s job seekers expect of employers. In this discussion, we will examine 2017 job strategies to assist recent college graduates, their parents, or other supporters in how to increase their success in employment.

The economic picture should give recent college graduates some hope. According to the Blackrock Investment Institute’s 2017 quarterly market report, economic opportunities continue to increase. Global growth expectations are on the rise. While the United States provided most of the economic growth in 2016, non-U.S. entities created the global stimulus for economic growth in 2017. In fact, earnings upsurge was particularly strong in Japan and emerging markets despite terrorism abroad, government stability, and uncertainty in the EU countries.

Focusing more closely on the United States, individuals should feel positive about employment prospects for recent college graduates. According to a recent National Association of Colleges and Employers, the top bachelor’s degree, which would be in the highest demand, was business administration and management. Of the 169 surveyed employers, 86 stated they intended to hire graduates with this degree.

In another college employment study by CareerBuilder.com, 74% of employers planned to hire more recent college graduates this year (up from 67% from 2016). Half of these employers planned to offer recent college graduates higher pay than last year; 39% of these surveyed employers would start recent graduates with $50,000 or more (compared to 27% in 2017).

The most sought after majors for these employers were: Business (30%), Engineering (26%), Computer and Information Sciences (23%), Engineering (16%), Communications Technologies (13%), Mathematics/Statistics (11%), Construction Trades (11%), and Health Professionals/Related Clinical Sciences (10%). With this positive job outlook, college graduates cannot afford to relax because of the continual changes in the job market.

Recent college graduates must enhance their job strategies. In today’s competitive environment, getting a job in one’s major is not easy. In fact, more experienced and older workers are now competing for entry-level jobs. Companies are more demanding due to the surplus of seasoned and young talent before them.

With globalization causing more U.S. companies to compete, many businesses are turning to technology (i.e. automation) and foreign-born talent to offset any workforce shortages. Thus, employers are very picky about prospective employees. For example, some graduates who were excellent students with high GPAs without any experience might find themselves on the outside if they compete against work experience.

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According to the Economic Policy Institute, one in eight colleges graduating class of 2016 were under-employed. Underemployed relates to those individuals in the college-educated workforce that are doing jobs that don’t require a college degree or not in their intended major. With that said, those unemployed individuals would prefer to be working in their major full-time. In the Office of the New York City Comptroller’s 2016, the study found that, by 2014, Millennials were making about 20 percent less in real terms than what older generations made during their first years in the labor force. Thus, recent graduates cannot afford to misunderstand the job market.

Peter Cappelli, the author of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs, notes that the impersonal nature of the current employment process: “Like a replacement part, job requirements have very precise specifications. Job candidates must fit them perfectly, or the job won’t be filled, and the business can’t operate.” In a surplus market with numerous potential candidates, employees can be picky.

When a list of prospective applicants does not meet the requirements, many times, these positions are left unfilled. Sadly, most job seekers have not figured this reality out. Yet, loaded with the right attitude and good job strategies, recent graduates can ensure themselves of better success in this job market. The following are the 2017 job strategies for more employability:

  1. Possess a good character that makes you an attractive person.
  2. Connect your ideal job with your interest, skills/abilities, and value/belief system.
  3. Build an effective personal brand, including an online personality connected to Linkedin.com and critical online networks.
  4. Pursue additional education and certifications (i.e. Google digital marketing certifications) that separate you from the competition.
  5. Use daily positive self-affirmations about your skills and abilities to keep your energy level positive.
  6. Build an incredible professional network for identifying job opportunities.
  7. Learn how to seek out critical advice and mentorship, but develop the capacity to use it.
  8. Develop a questioning attitude about life to promote problem solving.
  9. Network with subject matter experts, industry leaders, and highly successful people to increase your job opportunities.
  10. Target desired positions and apply periodically (daily, weekly, etc.) so that you are actively engaged in new employment.

In today’s difficult economy, college graduates must be more assertive despite the positive forecast for employment. Getting a job isn’t easy. This article describes 2017 job strategies to assist recent college graduates to become successful in today’s employment landscape.

Unlike when their parents were starting their careers, many Millennials will face future employers that have a variety of job options to fill a job vacancy. Individuals who understand the new mindset of current employers will have a better chance of successfully navigating the employment landmines.

Yet, a savvy job seeker understands these employment changes and makes the necessary corrections to make his/her personal brand attractive to potential employers. If individuals want to be more effective in their job hunt for 2017, they can use these job strategies to navigate future career challenges. Pray that it is not too late.

© 2017 by Daryl D. Green

 

LinkedIn – What It Is and Why College Students Should Care – Guest Blogger

College is a beginning. It is a time and place to begin to learn who you are, what you want and what is possible. College is also a place that the institution can teach you a lot, but what you learn yourself is even more important.

College taught me how to take tests about things I can’t for the life of me remember now in classes I couldn’t possibly see as relevant to my degree.

Yet what my college did not directly teach me, that I learned on my own, was balance. I had a full load, was on the dance team, participated in the theatre and worked a part time job. I had to learn how to balance all those things in eventually earning that degree.

It is also a place that, for many, will serve as the last step before entering the “real world” – after graduation getting that “real” job.

Although many universities and colleges have career centers to help you with that task – and they are wonderful, take them up on all the help offered, there is also something you need to learn in order to help yourself: marketing.

Before you graduate you need to begin to market yourself because once you are out in the ‘real world’ you are going to be thrust into sales. You are the product and the company. You have to learn to sell yourself to potential employers and pretty much anyone in a business sense that you meet in order to secure a position. That last part is called networking. Continue reading

Job Strategies for Professionals

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Are you fearful about your career future? Good people can’t find jobs. College graduates are losing Hope. Our world is filled with uncertainty. My co-author William Bailey and I wrote our latest book, Job Strategies for the 21st Century: How to Assist Today’s College Students during Economic Turbulence.  Through our research, we found that there is a huge disconnect between what organizations are looking for in potential employees, and what today’s job seeker are providing. I will share some of the key insights from our undertaking. Continue reading

Mapping Out the Right Job Process for 2013 College Grad

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Picking the right job candidate is not easy.  I was given the task of recommending college students for summer employment for my organization.  I promptly pulled together a team of both seasoned professionals and recent college grads to make the job selection.  We reviewed more than 100 resumes and interviewed several candidates.  We had to make these selections quickly.

To my surprise, I was flabbergasted at the lack of employment preparation for by some people.  For example, some students did not have the correct phone number listed on their resumes. We did not have time to waste tracking down candidates.

In one situation, we had called a prospect to interview him but missed him on our call to set up an interview.  He called us back with a list of times he was available to be interviewed.  In other words, he expected us to work our interview schedule around his.  Needless to say, we did not call him back.

In other cases, we contacted prospects and asked them two basic questions: (a) why did they want the job and (b) what separated them in terms of skills and abilities for the job.  In some cases, the students could not answer those questions.  I am sure in hind sight; they would have understood that those types of questions would be asked.

We were fortunate to land two quality candidates.  The team continued to be concerned about the lack of understanding by these college students about the job interview process.  Because of this, we developed a job strategies checklist to provide universities and college students for our campus visits or university interactions.

Sadly, these miscues in understanding the financial climate and the hiring process of employers could jeopardize their future.  In this blog, we will examine the current economic crisis and how students and parents can better position themselves for more employment opportunities.

The current economic forecast looks bleak in the near term for college grads and those preparing to graduate in 2013.  The U.S. Labor Department estimates that the unemployment rate for recent college grads between ages 21 to 24 has averaged over 8%.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, recent grads will probably need to settle for low-level positions.[1]  In fact, about 52% of employed college grads under age 25 were not working jobs that require a college degree according to a Northeastern University economist.[2]

College grads and current students must find alternative strategies to overcome employment obstacles. Rising tuition costs, a stagnate economy, and lack of career advancement continue to haunt ambitious young professionals.

Seasoned professionals are too cautious to retire early due to the uncertainty in their own future with the rising health care costs as they age.  In fact, getting a college education appears to be a big liability and financial load for students.

As the clock struck midnight several days ago, interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford student loans jumped from 3.4% to 6.8% until Congress can change it.[3] Some estimates conclude that the average college student will see an additional $2,600 cost for his or her loan.

According to the Project on Student Debt, two-thirds of 2011 college graduates had an average debt of more than $26,000.  Consequently, millions of college grads will see themselves carrying massive college debt loads with dim hopes of finding jobs in their majors.

Columnist Hadley Malcolm summed up this situation best, “Like countless Millennials across the country, they find themselves tethered to that debt load, stuck between the desire to become fully independent adults and not being able to afford the financial and cultural milestones traditionally associated with young adults.”

Employment opportunities have changed because the hiring processes have changed, yet most individuals do not realize this fact.  A process is defined as any part of an organization that inputs and transforms them into outputs in hopes of greater value to the organization than the original inputs.[4]

Robert Jacobs, Richard Chase, and Nicholas Aquilano, authors of Operations & Supply Management, note, “Understanding how processes work is essential to ensuring the competitiveness of a company.”

Yet, understanding the hiring process would be an asset to college grads who are competing with their college peers and seasoned professionals.  For most college grads, this reality makes it vital to find a good, well-paying job.  Yet, most people are in the dark about the job strategies necessary.

Peter Cappelli, author of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs, explains that employers have shifted their expectations on prospective employees: “With an abundance of workers to choose from, employers are demanding more of job candidates than ever before…To get a job, you have to have that job already.  It’s a catch-22 situation for workers – and it’s hurting companies and the economy.”  Regardless of where you stand on today’s college students, it is clear that some intervention is necessary if they are to be successful in this troubled market.

 

With the increases in college debt and decreases in significant job opportunities, both college grads and college students must understand today’s hiring process. Additionally, with the rising cost of a college education, parents cannot afford to idly sit by and watch their child wander aimlessly through college.  Individuals can help themselves by becoming knowledgeable in all aspects of the employment process.  The road will not be easy, but planning will create the right environment for success in the future.

Please discuss employment processes that have changed since you graduated. Provide valuable employment strategies to recent college grads and current college students. 

© 2013 by Daryl D. Green

 


[1] “Class of 2013 faces grim job prospects” by Annalyn Kurtz

[2] “Class of 2013 faces grim job prospects” by Annalyn Kurtz

[3] “The cost of student debt loan” by Hadley Malcolm

[4] Operations & Supply Management by Robert Jacobs, Richard Chase, and Nicholas Aquilano.