Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Entry Level Essentials

I am sure most of you are quite aware of new media, web 2.0 and many of the social websites out there today. But how may of you utilize these tools to enable and strengthen your personal brand? Below are a few tips I have picked up along the way that will help both entry level and junior international affairs (IA) candidates to get farther in their job search increase their chances of success. Follow these steps and get noticed!

1. Create your social identity.
I don’t mean you have to twitter like Aston Kutcher or have the most friends on MySpace. I'm saying that by creating a clean and responsible online profile that projects professionalism you will raise your attractiveness as a modern job candidate who takes initiative. If you want to get noticed out there you need to first create a presence. Start with Linkedin and Monster. Make sure you include a picture and take the time to fill out all of the smaller details including a complete work history, education, and preference for job industries. On Linkedin, ask former employers for recommendations and fill out recommendations for them to show you mean it. I have received job inquiries through simply posting a resume and following these steps on Linkedin and Monster. Read up on how you can build your “online brand.”
A Note on Facebook. We all use it and we all love/hate it. Some say “I just keep it to stay in touch with old friends, while others wake up at 7am to check everyone status like a compulsive hamster.” Simply put, Facebook can be utilized as a personal marketing tool. Make sure you keep your job, location and personal information up to date. More importantly, make sure you don’t have any offensive photos or WALL POSTS. Don’t believe me? Read this and this. Many people remember to block photos, but yet always overlook wall posts about last night’s debauchery from your frat buddies when trying to privatize their Facebook information.

2. Participate. Create a blog, comment on news articles and papers and more importantly use Brazencareerist. Connect all of your digital comments to formulate a “social resume” and join groups that your similar preferences. While seemingly unimportant to your job search it will keep you focused and hone your analytical writing capabilities.

3. Read. It is critical to stay not only on top of current events, but also to what the marketplace looks like, and how the job industry is performing. Log onto your Gmail account and click on “reader.” From here, you can create an excellent reading list of your favorite blogs, articles, newspapers, etc by copying and pasting the RSS feeds. It is an excellent tool that lets you keep current on your favorite articles. Some of my favorites include Hire Education through the Wall Street Journal, Best Defense from Foreign Policy.com, and One Day One Job with Willy Franzen.

4. Network.
If the light bulb in your head hasn’t gone off already, then you will soon realize networking is the key to success in a job hunt. The online job search is simply too saturated, too slow and too anonymous for some candidates to even get noticed. There is no better way to get your foot in the door than networking with connections, recruiters, friends, or even strangers. I’m no expert on networking, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize how more comfortable and enabling it is to use real human connections. To accomplish this feat which can be daunting for some, join an association, reach out to long lost contacts, utilize LinkedIn and search for recruiters, search your university’s alumni database and shoot out a few emails, attend networking events, meet people in your apartment building. Do anything you can to broaden your network base.

5. Build Experience.
There is no better way to get ahead and improve your marketability then an additional degree, foreign language capability or technical proficiency. As most of us are liberal arts majors, we have few “tangible skills.” We can tell you the history of China’s Cultural Revolution and how nuclear weapons are good for the world, but we can’t exactly fix your computer or do your taxes. That’s why it is absolutely critical to continue on the path of lifelong learning and regularly work on developing your skills. Getting a graduate degree imo is a must for international affairs students. But that doesn’t mean you have to get one right after graduating from undergrad and risk taking out thousands upon thousands of additional loans. All in all, be strategic about how you build experience. Plan ahead and make sure the goal is economically and physically feasible. Before jumping into an expensive certificate, summer language or masters program do background research and find out just how smart an investment it really can be. Also, do yourself a favor and take your GRE’s or GMATs while you’re in college, scores are good for 5 years. Get them done with, because when you’re working full time or job searching between two jobs you do not want to be studying analogies and algebra. And remember there is always hope.


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