Especially considering the current economic climate where employment prospects for grads are limited, I think about the advice I would share with them. My counsel serves as a good reminder regardless of where we are in our careers.
Be flexible. Upon graduation, I relocated to the Silicon Valley to pursue a public relations position with a technology company. Three years later, I found myself jobless as a result of the tech meltdown of the early 2000’s.
A young professional, I was competing against seasoned pros for a limited number of opportunities. As unemployed days turned into weeks and then into months, I realized that the traditional means of job hunting were not going to cut it.
In an effort to regroup, I focused on my personal brand—resourceful, creative, innovative, proactive. I zeroed in on those characteristics and qualities that would set me apart from the competition.
Whereas most applicants were submitting resumes online, I mailed a hard copy of my resume to a law firm looking to hire its first-ever director of marketing. I attached a PowerBar to the cover letter that read, “Looking for a marketing professional who can cut through the noise and reach prospective clients? Take a Power Break (the term had just been introduced into the vernacular), review my credentials, and let me know a good time to chat.”
Two days later, I received a call to schedule an interview. Instead of merely arriving well prepared for the appointment, I took the initiative to draft a sample-marketing plan for the firm, which I shared with it’s managing partner. I landed the job.
Stay the course. In 2007, I finished the construction of my first home. The American dream my mine! Two years later, and at the end of a personal relationship, I found myself with a property that no longer suited my needs. Instead of allowing the grief of both matters to overtake me and potentially stall my progression, I weighted out my options and made a decision to sell the home at half my original investment. Albeit an ill-timed misfortune, I didn’t allow it to derail my momentum.
Make something good, better. I come from a large, connected family. Unfortunately most of them live outside California. When my out-of-state sisters started having kids, I enjoyed taking calls from my nieces and nephews wanting to talk to “Uncle Jon.”
Not anticipating the joy these little people would bring to my life, and despite the geographical divide, I found ways to become even more connected to them.
As much as sending a toy or new outfit on their birthdays would bring a smile to their faces, I discovered I could develop a closer bond and create a more lasting experience through funding their extracurricular activities. This allows me an additional avenue to connect and share in their upbringing. I took what brings me joy and augmented it.
College graduates aren’t the only ones with hopes and dreams for the future. All professionals have them. Let the virtues of your personal brand guide you through the highs and lows of accomplishing your goals.
In the words of Winston Churchill, “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.”