Graduating With an Edge May 18, 2010

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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Congratulations, you are about to graduate.  The world is your oyster.  You can do anything you want, you can be anything.  Yes, it is a challenging time.  Jobs are hard to come by and there is fierce competition to land the one you want.  The upside is that because of technology and specifically social media, you have opportunities to separate yourself that didn’t exist as recently as five years ago.  But we won’t lie; it is not going to be easy.  You are most likely not going to get that first job or maybe the second one.  Odds are you are going to lose many of them.  So here’s our advise, if you are going to lose… lose big!

Culled from years of experience and interviewing hundreds of people, I have some ideas that will give you an edge, separate you from the pack.  The central point is to create your personal brand, the authentic you.  Do that first and exemplify it through these following three areas and I guarantee you’ll stand out from the crowd:

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Blog
  3. Lose Big

LinkedIn

How long have resumes been around?  I have no idea.  My guess is that it has been common practice to deliver those one or two sheets of paper to potential employers for at least a hundred years.

You still need to do it, so definitely put in the effort, but don’t stop there.  LinkedIn should be your new best friend.  It is the amped up online version of your resume.  It offers you the opportunity to not only expand on your work history, it also allows you more room to emphasize your experience and make the words jump off the page.

Most of your contemporaries haven’t embraced LinkedIn yet.  For those of us who have been working for several years now, we have learned to make LinkedIn our go to resource for sharing information about our careers.  But college students have typically been slow to board this train.  So, while your sorority sisters are busy checking out what photos have been uploaded to Facebook today, you can be leaping ahead of them by building out your LinkedIn profile.  By all means keep up the tweets, check-ins and status updates, just be more conscious of what you’re putting out there for potential employers to see.

When we post a job at Fanscape we get hundreds of resumes within the first day of the post.  Do you know how hard it is to go through that many resumes?  It is a giant pain.  So, we go through a weeding out process.  If your resume pops and my hiring manager likes what they see, then it gets sent to me.  My next step is to go to your LinkedIn profile.  Your page better look great.  Well written, no spelling errors, great insight into you; that is what I want to see.

You can drop in widgets on your LinkedIn profile that point me to your blog posts, your Twitter feed, even what books you are reading.

And don’t forget about recommendations.  Have people recommend you.  Haven’t had that many jobs?  Start with your teachers, your counselors, the bosses where you did your internships.  Ask them nicely if they will give you a recommendation on LinkedIn.  I bet they use LinkedIn.  Another tip, recommend others.  The best way to get people to recommend you is to recommend them first.  Nothing makes me happier than to see that you’ve actually recommended more people than have recommended you.  Yep, I can see all that when I look at your LinkedIn page.

Fill that profile up.  You can’t write too much.  LinkedIn will stop you if you get too wordy.  It will force you to fine-tune your descriptions and make them pop.

Trust me on this.  Your friends aren’t doing any of this.  Do this and you jump 10 steps ahead of them.  LinkedIn is my favorite social media tool.  For the business world it is the most important social network and you need to get a handle on this now!

Blog

Want to know where I go after I’ve read your LinkedIn profile?  Your blog.  What?  You don’t have one?  You really should.

See, your resume and your LinkedIn profile give me insight into your professional capabilities, but what about your personality?  How can I see where your passions lie?  What do you do when you aren’t working?  What movies have you seen?  What do you collect?  What is important to you in this world besides your career?

You are probably asking, “Why do you care?”  You are wondering, what your personal life has to do with your work life?   .

Look, like I said, I’m trying to make a decision on hiring a new employee.  I want someone that is not only a professional fit but someone who is also a cultural fit.  My company is filled with people who love reality television, play video games, and check in on Foursquare.  I’ve hired some who looked good on paper, but turned out to be loners who’d prefer to code in a dark room than participate in a brainstorm about a new client. And they never worked out.  I need to know upfront whether or not you’d be a good fit and whether or not to interview you.  Your blog helps me make that determination.

If you are not blogging, start now.  Set yourself up on Blogger, WordPress or Tumblr.  It doesn’t cost a thing.  Start writing or posting photos.  Maybe video is more your thing.  Start a YouTube channel.  Just do something that shows your personality.  Try to post something every few days.  It might take you a couple of months to find your voice, the thing you want to share with the world, but it will come, you just have to start.

Again, want an edge over the competition?  Blog.  And let me know it.

Lose Big

Here is the brutal reality.  You are not going to get most of the jobs you apply for.  You are not even going to get an interview.  When you send in your resume, understand that hundreds of others did the very same thing.

But when you get the interview, and you will get a few, know that you will most likely lose.  So lose big.

I have interviewed over 500 people since I started Fanscape 12 years ago.  95% of them were nervous and told me what they thought I wanted to hear.  Only a couple of them stood out and only one ever looked me in the eye, stood up, and told me I needed them.  That person told me I was missing out on huge opportunities and that they would make those happen for me.  That person told me that I didn’t have to pay them much, that they would prove their value immediately, and that soon I would be paying them much more.

I hired that person.  That person won more business for me than anyone ever had before.  I’ve never forgotten that first meeting.  Everyone I’ve met since has been compared in my mind to that person.

Now a different boss might have been turned off by that approach.  They might have thrown that person out of the office.  That’s the risk you take.  Remember, the odds are you are not going to get the job.  So if you are going to lose, lose big.

In conclusion, what I’ve explained here is not difficult.  It doesn’t cost any money and it doesn’t require any technical experience or training.  Everyone can do it.  But they don’t.  So it’s up to you.  You are setting out on the next great adventure in your life.  Have fun with it.  You are great.  You know that.  But you are about to meet a lot of people who don’t know that yet.  So you need to let them in on your secret.  You rule!

One final thing I’d like to share.  Many in the working world (especially those of us in the digital marketing world) have seen this video – but it’s incredibly inspirational.

It’s a speech given by Gary Vaynerchuck, creator of WineLibrary.tv where he encourages you to “Kill it!”  Follow my thoughts, create your personal brand, watch this video and you will in fact, kill it!

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