4 Self-Marketing Tips for New Grads

Think beyond résumés and cover letters to build your personal brand.

IT’S THAT STRESSFUL time of year: graduation. Everyone wants to have an offer in hand or a job secured before his graduation date, but it’s not an easy thing to do when you’re in the midst of wrapping up another chapter of your career as a student.

If you have time to start marketing yourself now, fantastic. If not, you soon will, even if it means you must live at your parents' house for a while. Whatever timing works best for you, it’s important to remember that the way in which you market yourself is crucial, and it goes well beyond your résumé and cover letter.

LinkedIn. The most obvious and important place to market yourself as a professional is LinkedIn. Brie Reynolds, director of online content at FlexJobs, says it's important for new grads to create a profile to help them stand out among job seekers. Here are some tips:

  • Consider using a generic job title to describe your experience instead of a cryptic one. This will make you more accessible to hiring managers searching for candidates.
  • Add keywords to your professional headline to get more profile views. The precious real estate underneath your name is one of the first things a potential employer will see.
  • Include your email address so recruiters can easily contact you.
  • Include a current job entry. Most recruiters use the “current title” box to search for candidates, so you may be missed in searches if you don’t do this. Create a job listing that includes the job title you are targeting and a phrase to indicate you are searching for a job in the company name field.
  • You can include up to 50 skills on your profile, but you should always go for quality over quantity. Don’t repeat skills or simply rephrase them in an attempt to have as many as possible.
  • Ensure your profile is set to "public" so you don't lose any opportunities to be contacted for an interview.

Personal website. If you’re wondering how to be found by recruiters, put your professional brand out there. A personal website is a great way to market yourself, according to Reynolds. She says even a WordPress.com blog that uses your name as the URL can be effective in helping recruiters find you via Google.

In addition to recruiters, many employers Google candidates. A personal website helps employers find you and learn about you as a potential hire before even meeting you. Include a link to your website on your LinkedIn profile, résumé and anywhere else employers or recruiters might find you.

Opinion pieces. Reynolds suggests writing regularly about your career field in a personal blog or on LinkedIn. “Give your professional opinions on the latest news in your field, or discuss positive experiences from your internships and career-related coursework," she says. "This gives readers a more detailed understanding of your knowledge and background. Anything you can write to showcase your experience and abilities is a plus.”

You can also comment on group pages in your field (or fields) of interest on LinkedIn. Recruiters may be looking in those groups to source candidates. Make sure what you post and comment on is thoughtful, or else it can hurt rather than help you.

Alumni networks. Don’t rely solely on online tactics when you’re marketing yourself to search for a job. Get out there, and start contacting people in your desired fields for brief informational chats.

The first place to start is your career center, which may keep a database of alumni from your school. Be selective about who you contact by targeting people in your area and locations of interest. Broaden your search if you don’t find anyone using those parameters.

Don’t automatically assume these new contacts want to see your résumé. Make a short email introduction, and request to talk about their career progression and any advice they may have for you as a new graduate.

When you find people who are willing to talk with you, be respectful of their time. Prepare questions ahead of time so you can lead the conversation, but make sure you listen more than speak. After 15 minutes, wrap it up.

If they ask you to send a follow-up email with your résumé, great! If not, simply ask if they can keep you in mind if they hear of any opportunities that may be a good fit with your background. In either case, thank them for their time in a follow-up email. Wait a month or so to follow up again.

Beyond your standard job-search documents, you must have a LinkedIn profile that presents you and your qualifications well. Use job descriptions that you are interested in to identify the kinds of keywords to use that apply to your experience.

LinkedIn and a personal website allows you to write opinion pieces about your desired field and can help employers and recruiters get to know you better.

These are all important elements to utilize as a new grad, because alumni you contact, employers and recruiters are likely searching online and viewing professional information about you. It’s up to you to create and maintain your professional brand.

Source:  U.S. News

The mission of Next Steps Navigation is helping college graduates navigate the ups and downs of finding their place in the world, by finding their right next step. Recognizing the huge gap between getting a college degree and the realities of entering the workforce, we developed our coaching program to help families navigate this critical transition. We’ll meet you where you are and get you pointed in the right direction to choose a job – and a life – that you love.

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