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Graduate to a Great Career: How Smart Students, New Graduates and Young Professionals can Launch BRAND YOU by Catherine Kaputa

This is the most important moment in your career. Branding guru Catherine Kaputa will show you how to get it right.

In today's job market, competition is fierce. After college many graduates fall back to earth with a bump and struggle to launch a career in their chosen field. But what if you changed the way you thought about applications? What if, instead of getting bogged down in the search process, you approached your resume like a marketer launching an exciting new brand?

Marketing guru and brand strategist Catherine Kaputa is an expert in personal branding and knows exactly how to make an application sizzle. Drawing on her years of experience, insightful case-studies of recent graduates, and fascinating insider details from companies like Nike, Volvo, and Google, Kaputa will help you to navigate the career landscape as she shares her strategy for standing out from other applicants, in even the most competitive industries.

Graduate to a Great Career
will give you the tools you need to survive and show you how to thrive by creating 'Brand You'.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781857886405
Publisher: Quercus
Publication date: 03/14/2016
Pages: 228
Sales rank: 1,233,434
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Catherine Kaputa is the award-winning author of You Are a Brand! and Breakthrough Branding. She is a successful branding strategist and speaker and led the 'I Love NY' campaign. Catherine lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

Graduate to a Great Career

How Smart Students, New Graduates, And Young Professionals Can Launch

By Catherine Kaputa

Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Copyright © 2016 SelfBrand LLC.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-85788-640-5


Welcome to the Job Hunt, Twenty-First-Century Style

Do you recognize this new graduate? She could be your college roommate. He could be your son. Or she could be the person looking at you in the mirror.

As a college student, "Erin Jones" was bright-eyed and optimistic. A psychology major, she loved her classes and university life. Now that she's out looking for a job, she's frustrated, anxious, and at times downright miserable.

No matter what job she applies for, somehow she seems to lack the right stuff. Erin spent days preparing to talk about her courses, internships, and personal strengths for a job interview in the marketing department at a well-known company. The interviewer's first question: "What do you think about the story in the Wall Street Journal today about our company?" Ouch! She was so busy preparing answers to the most commonly asked questions that she neglected to be up to date on the very latest company news. Bombing on that first question led to a chain reaction of poor answers as her confidence plummeted. Erin knows she can perform better than this.

Edward Bellin, a recent MBA in international business from a French university, is frustrated, too. He spends hours each day scouring the web for entry-level jobs in the EU, primarily France and the UK, and internships and sponsorship in the US. But the recruiting process seems terribly broken. His job applications often get lost in resume cyberspace known as the black hole. Even when he's scored an interview, he's had to deal with off-the-wall questions like "If you had to explain 3-D printing to your grandmother, how would you do it?" "Am I supposed to know that?" he wonders. "I'm not a techie." It's frustrating, but Edouard knows he's talented, qualified, and hardworking.

Gradually, they both were hit with the realization that something was very wrong. The career world was not what they imagined or prepared for. Much of the knowledge they learned in school was not transferable to the career world. Erin wonders if she made the right choices beginning with her major. Edouard wonders why there are so few job choices.

Like so many recent graduates and young professionals, they both feverishly tried to find a job but found it wasn't easy. They were all dressed up with no job in sight.

Finding a job is unlike any exam you've ever taken. Even if you prepare day and night, you still might not pass if you don't know how to market yourself.

I'm going to tell you why.

There are too few jobs, especially full-time entry-level positions. Perhaps Erin's major or Edouard's coursework was not what companies were looking for; perhaps it was the way they marketed themselves. They came to realize that there were many others from all over the world angling for the same opportunities. Credentials are important, but they must become better at job hunting — and networking and personal branding, too — if they expect to succeed.

Plus, nowadays, Erin and Edouard have to deal with the gig economy. Employers can get away with "temp to permanent" job offers, or they can hire you as a consultant, freelancer, or part-time worker with no benefits or commitment. Employers can make you jump over hurdles. The first hurdle is likely to be a machine, not a person. It's the automated applicant tracking system (ATS) that many companies use to screen applications digitally.

Then you must win over multiple interviewers and pass a battery of pre-hire assessment tests. In one test at a hot marketing agency, the interviewer asked Erin to draw a picture, write a haiku, and rearrange a set of word magnets on a computer screen. It took her two hours. The next day she got a wickedly short email that simply read, "We don't think you're a good fit."

Welcome to the real world of job hunting, twenty-first-century style!

Erin was not incompetent, nor did Edouard lack ambition. Neither were they lazy. They were just frustrated job seekers trying to launch their careers, unprepared for the reality of the new world of work.

Both suffered from a problem that affects many new graduates these days:

Failure to Launch Syndrome.

Marketing Yourself: Now Critical

Graduation is a happy day. Once the end of their college years are nigh, it's hard for college students and their parents not to be caught up in the cheers and pomp and circumstance, the bond of sharing a pivotal rite of passage. But, I'm here to tell you that the champagne should stay in the fridge until you master Personal Branding 101.

Unless you're summa cum lucky; have the networking connections of a Rockefeller; or are a top student majoring in engineering, computer science, or finance at a top-tier school, chances are you will face periods of frustration, self-doubt, and failure in the days, weeks, and months after that happy graduation day. It can be a long countdown to getting a real job, and you can't ease up until you do.

Large-scale frustration is what sets the millennials and Generation Z apart. The transition from university to a career has long been rocky, and unemployment has generally been significantly higher among people ages twenty to twenty-four than the overall unemployment rate. Finding your first job has always been something of a Catch 22. As the saying goes, you need experience to get a job, and your need a job to get experience.

But in today's economy, what's always been a dilemma has become a crisis.

It's not that the new generation isn't working hard to find a job, but very few are accounting for the reality of today's job market. You will compete with other new grads and more-experienced job seekers willing to accept entry-level salaries. And you can be squeezed out by financially strapped baby boomers who are retiring later.

After all, a young job seeker, even one who's had some good internships, can't compete that well with a candidate with years of experience and extensive contacts. No wonder so many college seniors and new grads feel anxious about their future.

What's a newly minted BA to do?

It used to be about, "Can you do the job?" Now it's about, "Can you make a better impression than the other 200 people who can do the job?"

What's truly different today is the quality of the competition and the sheer volume of it. The fact is the economy in most countries is not growing fast enough to handle the number of entry-level employees (top STEM graduates excepted). Millennials, young adults now in their twenties, are the best-educated generation, yet they also have higher unemployment rates than we've seen in recent decades. They make up about 40 percent of the unemployed in the US. Even when they find a job, the picture isn't always pretty. Many new grads are in jobs that don't require a college degree; others settle for jobs outside their area of study.

It's always been beneficial to distinguish yourself, but now it's absolutely necessary. Personal branding rules in the new world of work, and you can rule, too. You must be better prepared, possess marketing savvy, and conduct a smarter job search. But you can do it.

Even in a robust job market, you must brand and market yourself to avoid being furloughed into temp work or a subpar job. Besides, futurists predict that soon switching jobs every few years or so will become the norm, so we'll all have to be in permanent beta mode when adapting and marketing ourselves in changing conditions.

It's Not Your Parents' Job Market

You don't have to be a Phi Beta Kappa graduate to know that the world of work has changed. The career paths of previous generations were linear, simple, and predictable. Globalization, technology, and a lingering recession have changed the old world of employment. Already, an estimated 40 percent of the labor force in the US is composed of "contingent" workers — contractors, freelancers, and the self-employed. Some companies are even reclassifying workers as franchisees or owners of LLCs to cut costs. In short, you have to pay franchise fees for work.

Entire industries can transform or contract at lightning speed, and government statistics are released too infrequently to reflect current employment reality. Then there's the threat of technology and automation. In the future, robots can come for your job. Almost half of US jobs and one-third of jobs in the UK are at risk of being automated, according to a study by Oxford University. So when choosing a career path, we must figure out either what jobs computers could never do or what roles we will absolutely insist be done by a human, even if computers could do them.

We're moving from a world of employment to a world of "employability." There's no longer any single corporate ladder assuring a long career at one company, but instead a "jungle gym" of various jobs and skills you'll market in your lifetime.

It's not your parents' job market by a long shot, and not just in terms of less opportunity. What new grads are looking for in a first job is vastly different from what their boomer parents or Gen X sought. The majority of young people starting out today — some 57 percent — want to do something they find enjoyable, or they want to make a difference in society. (Bravo!) When their boomer parents were asked what was most important when they were looking for their first job, the majority — 64 percent — said making as much money as possible or learning new skills.

People in their twenties — the millennials — tend to work for themselves. They have a passion for being in charge of their own destiny. They're driven by an internal ethos and motivated by intrinsic values, not only extrinsic rewards. Yet, if you have loftier, meaningful goals like most young people today, you better have a plan for achieving them.

Memorize This: Work Is Not Like School

The reality is that everything that made you successful in school works rather poorly in the career world. It's not school rules anymore.

School is about doing well on assignments and tests. It's about having impressive grades and objective measures of your performance — the final counts for 40 percent of your grade. It's mainly about solo work. Working with others is cheating.

Employers are looking for a fusion of theoretical and applied learning between hard skills and soft skills.

Work requires a whole different set of skills, both to get a job and then to flourish in your career. Work is about hard power skills such as real- world experience, vocational knowledge, hands-on learning, practical professional ability, certificates, and aptitudes, along with your academic credentials. It's also about soft power, or personal branding skills such as persuasiveness, communications agility, relationship building, self-promotion, leadership, and strategic networking. You must cultivate both to succeed today. This book will show you how.

Fancy Degree. But Can You Get a Job?

A generation ago, a university degree was a ticket to the upper middle class and secured the holder a better job. Today, a diploma doesn't guarantee quality of employment — the main reason degrees are supposed to be valuable. In a land where everyone is encouraged to get a sheepskin, it doesn't brand its owner as highly employable the way it used to. The growth of skilled jobs has lagged behind the rapid increase of graduates in the US, UK, and many other parts of the world. That's why so many new graduates are working in jobs that don't even require a college degree.

There's an expression for new grads who have a job that doesn't require a college degree — underemployed. In recent years, over 40 percent of new grads in the US and over 58 percent in the UK were underemployed.

While more than 40 percent of grads in the US are overqualified, it's even worse in the UK, where underemployment, which includes people who aren't working full-time and want to work more hours, stands at 58.8 percent according to the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), a number exceeded only in Greece and Estonia in the EU.

What's more, new grads working in jobs that don't require a degree have no unique advantage over their nondegree colleagues. There is no special track for college graduates.

Underemployed young professionals are missing out on an important rite of passage — independence after graduation. Due to poorly paid jobs and college debt, new household formation is at a forty-year low in the US. Many young people can't afford to live on their own, so they are back at home in their high school bedrooms or camped out in the basement. Young adults are more likely to live with their parents today than they were in the depths of the Great Recession. Indeed, one in five adults eighteen to thirty-four in the US are living in poverty. Of course, it's a comfortable kind of poverty if they are an underemployed or unemployed degree holder living in their parents' basement, but it's still not the outcome they paid for at college.

It's unsurprising that students and recent grads (and their parents) are starting to question the value of a degree, given the cost of higher education and the fact that some degrees are fairly worthless in the job market today. Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor and cofounder of PayPal, is so skeptical of the practical value of a college degree that he launched a fellowship program specifically for college students to drop out and start their own businesses.

Changing the Jobs and Skills Mismatch

There's a widening gap between grads who struggle and those who succeed. Some economists believe that this is the new normal, not just a temporary bump. They propose that the gap will widen between new grads who possess in- demand majors and skills and those who don't.

Indeed, many unemployed or underemployed new graduates are enrolling in coding boot camps so they can compete for the abundant jobs in the technology industry or in technology-related careers in just about every industry.

Unlike academe, in the coding boot camps, the emphasis is on crash courses tailored to the specific skills industry is looking for and rapidly training students for a well-paying job. The number of computer science graduates from the coding schools is estimated to be about one-third of the total number of computer science graduates from American universities in 2015.

The code schools get it. They know what skills are in demand and teach them so the boot camp grads are highly employable. Unlike academia, where the model in most universities is to educate and drop, many code camps have corporate relationships so they can train and place students in high-paying jobs. The job placement rate at Galvanize, one of the largest coding camps, is 98 percent. To quote its CEO, Jim Deters, "Graduation here is you get a job."

Don't get me wrong about the liberal arts. A liberal arts education can be valuable for many careers. It teaches you how to think about the problems and issues you will face in the real world. It gives you perspective, analytical and problem-solving skills, and creative and communications strengths — which are all important in just about any career you can contemplate.

Nevertheless, if you are a student, be smart. Seek out internships and take electives like statistics, programming, or business to give your liberal arts education some "teeth." Students and young professionals alike should seek out skills and certifications that will provide more practical credentials in marketing yourself in the career world. As a new grad who struggled to market her degree in communications after graduation told me, "Every liberal arts major should be required to minor in business or take some technical courses to give your background a different gravitas."

The Revenge of the Liberal Arts Major

We've all been programmed to think that a tech education is the key to success. You'll be a dinosaur in the near future if you don't learn to code, is how the thinking goes. Certainly, learning to code can be a route to success, as the coding boot camp phenomenon shows.

Well, I have good news for you if you're not technically inclined to take up coding. Times are changing, and that way of thinking isn't necessarily so. You don't have to throw your liberal arts diploma in the rubbish bin after all.

A reversal of fortune is taking place as tech companies, particularly fast-growth tech start-ups, are realizing that it's not enough to be technically brilliant: you need brilliant business processes, too.

Some things can't be programmed. Creativity can't be programmed. Client relationships can't be programmed. Business-to-business sales can't be programmed. Tech leaders are realizing that real value will come more and more from people who can sell and humanize technology, not the hardcore technologists. That's why tech companies are zooming in on liberal arts majors, people who use and embrace technology but aren't technical. They are looking for employees with the business skills that technical people lack.


Excerpted from Graduate to a Great Career by Catherine Kaputa. Copyright © 2016 SelfBrand LLC.. Excerpted by permission of Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Failure to Launch
Chapter 2. What’s Your Career Destiny?
Chapter 3. Pitch Yourself Like a Pro
Chapter 4. Ace the Job Hunt
Chapter 5. Crush the Interview
Chapter 6. Creating an Image that Sells
Chapter 7. Rock the Internet and Social Media
Chapter 8. Leave Your Mark with Killer Marketing Materials
Chapter 9. Who Do You Know?
Chapter 10. Internships: Your Proof of Performance
Chapter 11. Go for the Close
About the Author

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