Marketing yourself after collegeThere may be a few of you who find yourselves three months away from graduating, and staring into the jaws of a bear market. Are you scrambling to lock down an interview? Falling over yourself to complete career checklists to no avail? And all the while wondering: Does this mean I need to go to grad school?

There is no rulebook for success these days. Surviving this job market requires brash confidence and pure cunning. You should be marketing yourself. The problem with your checklist is that your competition -- the thousands of others graduating from schools across the country -- is using the same exact list. You've all obtained the same credentials, fulfilled the same requirements, given your GPAs a two-year makeover (or not), and gathered a healthy list of extracurriculars. But you're all just a blur in a faceless recruitment system.I'm going to illustrate some ways that you can distinguish yourself from the checklist masses, as I have had the benefit of both fruitful and unfruitful experiences with outplacement.

You need to market yourself with:

A Part-Time Job

Of the two solid candidates on paper, would you rather hire an unemployed college grad with a possibly bloated resume or a fellow taxpayer and kindred spirit of the workforce, in good standing at his/her job? Furthermore, the sooner you familiarize yourself with the notion that living costs money, the better. This isn't necessarily a career position that we're talking about, so any legitimate work will do.

A Brand

The way you dress, what you put on Facebook, the way you design your resume, how you enunciate, and whether or not you floss -- everything needs to be part of an identity that you are choosing to establish for yourself as a professional. Don't just make something up. Take time to thoughtfully determine what makes you comfortable and project that image to everyone around you. Outwardly, this will give you the appearance of someone who is focused and organized.

A Mentor

Find someone in your desired field whom you can emulate -- a real success story and captain of the industry. Knowing your field requires that you also know the people who are the best at the job you want; doing whatever you can to acquaint yourselves with them (though perhaps not in person) should be a priority.

Following their examples, taking (and using) any advice they have, and trying to open and maintain a dialogue will give you an absurd advantage, while also giving you the appearance of a hungry and driven youth. I once interviewed for a content-generation position at a small PR firm, and the interviewer was shocked when I had never heard the names of the individuals whose blogs she followed and mentioned continuously throughout the interview -- which lasted not so long.

And a Blog

The inherent limitations in the one-page-resume are the bane of entrepreneurial spirits everywhere who are trying to set themselves apart. Think of your blog as an easily-accessible and thoroughly detailed extension to your one page, and make reference to it somewhere on any resume you send.

Take time to design your blog. Blab extensively about what you know. Perform your own brand of research. It's FREE to publish yourself on the Internet! And for a meager $17 a year you can even register your own domain name through WordPress.com and increase your blog's traffic.

It really doesn't matter if you're not the most talented writer. (Look at Perez Hilton.) If you can show initiative by conducting research and efficiently organizing and communicating your processes, you will be able to provide any potential employer with immediate and tangible evidence of your proficiency in your field -- which is all they've wanted this entire time.

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