Don’t Look for a Job - Market Your Brand

The realities of a challenging global economy and after-effects of a recession in our country are unexpected educational experiences for recent college graduates. This year’s graduates have degree in-hand but in many cases have no guarantee of a job or immediate prospects. Young people are moving back home, searching earnestly for positions related to their college majors and in many cases taking jobs with little relevance to their chosen career.

I can empathize with the struggles young people are facing on two fronts. First, as a college professor one of my responsibilities is to help students launch their careers. I share with them the importance of building a professional network and encourage them to use tools like LinkedIn to engage in networking. Also, I stay engaged with the local business community to stay abreast of job opportunities for marketing majors. Second, in addition to my advisees who study under me, I am currently mentoring my flesh and blood advisee – my oldest son graduated with an Information Systems degree in May and is in the job market with thousands of other recent grads. On both fronts my advice is the same: Don’t look for a job – market your brand.

Job seekers are abundant; they flood Monster and Career Builder with résumés. The problem is that it is difficult to differentiate yourself as an employee when your mindset is to find a job. In contrast, when you are marketing your personal brand, your thoughts and actions serve to build your brand. Why is personal branding a big deal? Most job seekers do not think like a brand manager. Their focus is on finding a job. Employers are interested in how a candidate can add value to their organizations. Brands focus on creating and articulating value.  

My advice to job seekers (including my own Chris) is to manage and develop the 3Ms of a personal brand:
·         Meaning – Your values and beliefs that guide your priorities
·         Make-up – The skills, abilities, and training that are marketable competencies
·         Message – Communication of your qualifications and personality; Social media gives us numerous opportunities for spreading our message… if used correctly

It is a unique but daunting task to oversee the most important brand in the world: You. If you want a job, develop your brand and market it. When you define what you have to “sell” and are able to persuade others about the value you can deliver, the job opportunities will follow.

USA Today - "Grim Job Prospects Could Scar Today's College Graduates"