Posts By: Catherine Kaputa

Are You a New Grad or the Parents of a New Grad? 4 Tips for New Grads Seeking a Job in Today’s Job Market

June 16, 2016 Uncategorized

Just after we’ve been told that it’s the best job market for new grads since the Great Recession, a very dismal job report came out.

The reality is it will still be a competitive market with more qualified job seekers than entry-level jobs. The class of 2016 will bring 1.8 million new bachelor’s degree holders into the market. Many will come equipped with college debt — the typical grad carries $30,000 in college loans. It’s not surprising that a record number of young adults — as many as 1 in 3 — are living at home despite an improved job market according to a Pew Research Center study of Millennials ages 18–34.

To become economically independent, you need to market yourself better than your competitors. Based on research for my new book, Graduate to a Great Career, here are the top four blunders recent college graduates often make and what you should do to market yourself instead:

  1. Being wishy-washy about what type of job you want. Okay, you may be unsure about your job direction, but don’t tell HR professionals that. Rather than saying you’re not sure, you need to specify a career path or say that you are interested in x and y. Not having a clear idea of their career path is one of the biggest complaints HR professionals make about new grads. It’s your job to know who you are and what type of job and career path you want. It’s not the employer’s job to try to figure it out. Take the time to do a personal brand audit. What are your strengths and preferences? Do you want to work at a large corporation, a dynamic startup, or something in between? Realize that your first job is not a life sentence. Very few people get it right straight out of the gate.
  1. Flaming out in interviews. If you can tell an employer why you are better, different, or unique, you will get them interested. But if you can tell them how you can solve their problem, the job offer will likely be yours. Do a little research about the company and position your strengths in terms of meeting company needs. Realize, too, the important of making a great first impression. The first 10 seconds are the most important according to research done by the University of Toledo. The decision to hire you or not may be made by the end of the handshake! The good news is that you can prepare to make the most of your entrance and your first words. Make sure you dress the part so you look like you belong. (Dressing inappropriately is another complaint hiring professionals have about new job seekers.) You need to project energy and confidence, so walk in standing tall, shake the interviewer’s hand, and look her in the eye. Plan an answer to the likely first question, “How are you?” with an enthusiastic response. You can say something like, “I’m great and I’m really eager to learn more about the job and talk about how I can add value to the role.”
  1. Doing too much online cruising of job boards and not enough networking. In academia, success is determined by objective measures like doing well on exams and assignments. In the career world, who you know is important in getting a job and for succeeding at the job. So don’t just fill out outline applications and expect a job to land in your lap. Remember, online job applications only work when you have a near-perfect match with the keywords in the job listing, which is difficult if you have limited job experience. Some 70 percent of jobs are gotten through networking according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. So go forth and network more! Tell everyone you know about your job hunt — everyone. Don’t forget to utilize the network you already have in place: your parents and their contacts, your college friends, their siblings and parents, your professors, even your high school tennis coach. You can expand your network the old-fashioned way by going to events and calling people or the modern way by networking online through social sites like LinkedIn. When you network, you can find jobs in the “hidden job market,” the majority of jobs that are unadvertised and can only be learned about through networking and marketing activities. Many career experts believe that the majority and the best jobs are unadvertised. So you don’t want to miss out on the hidden job market.
  1. Not running your job search like a “business.” The “product” you are selling is Brand You. Thinking like an entrepreneur means developing a marketing plan and a system for keeping track of job-hunting activities and next steps either on contact management software or an excel spreadsheet. Key items to keep track of are the dates that resumes and pitch letters were sent, the dates of interviews, follow-up calls, and your notes. Put together folders for career paths, pitch letters, resumes, target companies, and the like. If your “brand” isn’t selling well and you’re not getting interviews, thinking like an entrepreneur means evaluating your cover letters and marketing materials along with your self-presentation in interviews. Consider crafting a new pitch and staging mock interviews to improve your interview performance. You may decide to enhance your “product offering” with an online certification to acquire a needed skill. Your evaluation could even lead to a new career path that is a better fit for you.

Graduate to a Great Career 6in[9] copyLearning how to conduct a successful job hunt and pitch yourself well are important skills for job seekers to learn. Since you don’t have a strong track record yet, you will have to use a little artifice and thought. After all, if you can’t articulate your value, who will?


You’ve got to have a business card!

June 15, 2016 Uncategorized

There’s nothing worse than meeting someone at a professional event and you have nothing to hand back but a ripped-up piece of paper or your old company card with your new contact information penciled in. Not exactly a great first impression.

Even if you are employed and just “looking” (let’s face it; if you’re smart, you’re always looking), most company-issued business cards fall short of your needs. That’s because so many job titles are hard to decipher outside of the corporate culture. Or maybe your job title is confusing for the career direction that you want to take now.

That’s why as a personal brander, you need to take charge and craft your own business card. In fact, it’s imperative that you do if you want to be a successful careerist.

Your business card is one of the first impressions you make with a potential employer or new business contact. In fact, I think everyone should have a personal business card. Why? With your own card, you can define yourself and not limit yourself to the company line. You can also have your personal email and mobile phone number on your own card.

In talking to over 150 millennial job seekers for my new book, Graduate to a Great Career, I saw a lot of business cards or lack thereof, and I learned a lot about what makes a good personal business card and, more importantly, what doesn’t.

Here are six mistakes to avoid in crafting your business card:

Don’t junk it up: Go for a clean, quality design. Choose a simple, uncluttered message and layout. Don’t try to fit your resume on the card. Simplicity does it: your name, a positioning line, and your contact information. If you have an MBA, PhD, or CPA, put that on your card, too.

Don’t make them guess: Communicate your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Make it easy for new people to remember you by providing a tagline with your job focus and unique selling proposition.

Here are a few examples:

 

Digital marketing analyst with a cutting-edge grasp of big data analytics

Marketing manager focused on the consumer mind-set and new trends

Art Director: Integrated media campaigns for cutting-edge brands

Don’t use free cards. Some online printing companies offer free business cards. But there’s a catch: “Free business cards from X!” will appear on the back of your card. Since the cost of cards is so low online, don’t brand yourself as a cheapskate and flub your chance at a great first impression.

Don’t use thin paper or glossy stock. Like many people, I always make notes right on the business cards I receive so I’ll remember them in the future. With high-gloss cards, people won’t be able to write comments on the card. Thin paper cards come across as cheap. Better to use a heavier weight paper and save money by using two colors or black and white rather than four colors.

Don’t be hard to reach: Have a call to action. Include a link to your LinkedIn profile with a custom URL (LinkedIn.com/in/YourName) to engage people so they can learn more about you. Or include a QR code so that people can scan it and immediately read your profile.

Avoid digital business cards for now. There are also digital business cards you can “hand out” using your mobile phone. One job seeker tried to exchange his mobile business card with me. But it took too many steps to make the handoff easy. I’m sure paper cards will eventually be replaced by digital, but for now nothing has replaced the ease of handing someone a physical card.


How to build a personal brand #personal branding

June 13, 2016 Uncategorized

Had a great conversation with Pete Mocktalis, host of “How to be awesome at your job,” about personal branding and career success.

Of course, we’d all like to believe that that career success is just about the work. But it’s never just about the work.

That’s where personal branding comes in. It’s about authenticity, but something more. Personal branding is about having the courage to determine your special sauce – what’s different and relevant about what you offer in a work situation, and marketing that difference.

That’s why my formula for success is: Hard work + branding = success.

Here’s where to check out the podcast on developing your personal brand: http://awesomeatyourjob.com/022-developing-your-professional-brand-with-catherine-kaputa/


According to the Wall Street Journal, Job Outlook Brightens for New College Graduates

May 3, 2016 Uncategorized

Don’t get too excited. The big news is that employers expect to hire 5.2% more new grads this year than in 2015, but that estimate is much lower than the 11% uptick in new grad hires predicted in the fall according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

The reality is that many jobs available to new grads will be low paying jobs. Just last week, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a New York City study of millennials and job prospects. The average 23-year-old in New York City earned $23,543 in 2014 compared to $27,731 in 2000, adjusted for inflation.

Yes, salaries for millennials are heading the wrong way!

What’s a freshly minted BA to do?

In researching my new book, Graduate to a Great Career, successful job seekers beat the odds with these tactics:

  • Networking into the hidden job market, not endlessly browsing online job boards.
  • Following key executives and companies on social media
  • Seeking out internships and certifications to showcase relevant skills
  • Approaching the job hunt like an entrepreneur or marketer.

It’s not easy staying positive when you have a tough battle to get a return call, but put things in perspective. In my research, I found that most job seekers took ten to 15 tries before they got an interview and about the same number to get a job offer.

So, start piling on the rejections and you’ll get closer to your goal, a good job offer.

 


Make fun of Donald Trump’s hair all you want, but it’s a key part of his branding

April 24, 2016 Famous People, Personal Branding

Make fun of Donald Trump’s comb-over all you want, but his hair is an important part of his brand and gives him a distinctive visual identity like Hillary Clinton’s colorful pants suits.

Developing a signature item or style as a trademark of your visual style is a great tactic for personal branding. You’re creating a branding element that identifies you, like the logo on a product.

You can also build your career identity around particular accomplishments and experience like Clinton does with her political experience or Trump does with his business success.

It’s also smart to think in terms of creating intellectual property, ideas that people associate with you like Bernie Sanders has done around the issue of income equality.


4. Invest some time in developing strong presentation skills

April 23, 2016 Uncategorized

Brands have the luxury of hiring actors and celebrities to tout their benefits flawlessly.

Meetings are your stage and you want to be skilled in presenting your message and yourself in the best light.

If you’re uncomfortable on the meeting and interviewing stage, invest in courses in presentation skills at your company, outside organization or online.

The more well spoken you are and the more confidence you convey, the more successful you will be.

Ideally, you want to think in terms of creating intellectual property, ideas that people associate with you like Bernie Sanders has done around the issue of income equality.

#personal branding


Become a little bit famous through social media

April 22, 2016 Uncategorized

Visibility is important in the product world. That’s why companies spend so much money on advertising, PR and social media campaigns.

Today with social media like LinkedIn, there are more opportunities to start rolling out your visibility campaign. You can build your online profile and blog on topics of interest across broad social platforms and narrow ones. You can also be active on a personal level in your industry, your company or your community.

People are going to google you and they will find a strong, consistent brand image, a weak one, or nothing.

You’ll find that visibility brings big rewards. That’s because of the connection people make between something that’s well known being better than something that is not. (“He must be good, or why would he be so well known?” is how the thinking goes.)

#personal branding


Be true to yourself

January 31, 2016 Uncategorized

Some things never change: Your personal brand has to come from what’s true and what’s best about you: your talents, values, and ideas.

Nothing will replace authenticity.

Nothing will replace a unique insight into a consumer’s need or a new solution to a problem. The solution can become a brand, and the brand can meet that need.


What makes an elevator speech effective?

January 23, 2016 Uncategorized

The elevator speech is a must that many people overlook. Hence they stumble through explaining who they are and why that is important when they are in the job interview, at a networking event or even meeting with the boss for your annual review.

The “elevator speech” is short. (That’s why they call it that.) It should be your thirty-second personal commercial.

It’s your introduction to yourself that is colloquial, conversational and memorable. That’s why you’ll want to use a sound bite or analogy or anecdote to set yourself apart.

In essence, an elevator speech should convey the key highlights of what you have done, how you did it, and imply, there’s more that you can do for them.

 


How to market yourself for a job in a bad economy

January 20, 2016 Uncategorized

Job hunting in a bad economy is not high on anyone’s to-do list. To be successful you need to use different tactics and strategies – that’s where the branding model can be helpful. Branding is all about standing out and getting traction in a competitive environment.

            Adopting the marketing mindset, begin with your “customers” (hiring managers). What are they looking for? What reaction do you want to get from them? Then work backwards.

What is the best way to appeal to them? What accomplishments and experiences should you emphasize? What should you de-emphasize or eliminate? What specific actions can you take to get the reaction you want?