How to market yourself
Quickly preparing a pack of Ramen noodles, sneaking food into the library for your overnight studies and learning the art of swatting and eating a patty, all while walking to your next class, are just a few of our cherished university experiences. Now that you have the degree in your hand, it is time for the next chapter.
Searching for a job is not always an easy task, and there is more to it than sending out an application and turning up for the interview. You have to compete out of class now, with individuals of different backgrounds. It is time to market yourself by taking that, 'I am all that and a bag of chips' mentality to the next level.
You have to pick up on other things rather than academics. We solicited the expertise of life coach Cheryll Messam to assist us with developing a few tips for the new graduates who are ready to go out in the working world.
• GOAL SETTING. Become clear on your personal and professional goals - who you want to be in life and what you want to achieve, and why both are important to you. Dedicate a journal or a computer file to recording your goals and values. By documenting your goals and values, you help sustain mental focus on what this stage of your life is about. You can review your plans over time and make changes. You can identify the steps relevant to achieving these goals.
• NETWORKING. Develop relationships with persons who share the same personal and professional goals which interest you. Identify the professional associations, social-service groups and online forums which attract the membership and interest of persons who currently perform the jobs you are interested in, and join those organisations and online forums. The quickest way to be known in a group or organisation is to volunteer on a committee and play your role exceptionally well. This allows you to build relationships with senior professionals in your industry of choice.
• SOCIAL MEDIA. Identify and shortlist the social media platforms that attract the professionals which share your goals, and become a master user of those platforms. Be aware that potential employers, customers, and business interests will research you online as part of their decision on whether to establish a relationship with you. Ensure that your online persona enhances your career goals across all your social media platforms. If you have doubt about content that you have posted online in the past, go back and delete them. Moving forward be conservative about what you say online and the content that you share. Better to be safe than sorry. Do research on the topic 'personal branding' and follow the best practises.
- VOLUNTEERING and TEMPING. While you look for your ideal job, stay connected to your industry and keeps growing professionally by volunteering or taking on temporary assignments in your field of interest. This allows you to become exposed to more professionals, showcase your knowledge, skills and attitudes and gain experience, which may help the company, choose to hire you when a vacancy arises, or create a position for you.
• ON THE JOB. Once you get a job, whether it is your ideal job or the job you took because jobs are hard to find and you need an income, commit to doing your job exceptionally well. Be aware that whether it looks like it or not, you are always being watched and assessed in the workplace and public space. Most employers are discouraged by the poor work habits and lack of technical preparation of the average employee. This provides an opportunity for any young professional to bring positive attention to self, through consistently high quality work. If you stand out for positive reasons, you will be among the first persons to come to mind when opportunities arise.
• INTERPERSONAL SKILLS. Commit to improving your ability to relate well with others in your personal and professional life. People, especially business persons are attracted to persons they know, like and trust. Improve your likeability through research, consistent practise or professional help which enable you to improve over time, your communication skills, your ability to manage negative emotions under stress, your team building skills, and conflict management skills.
• LIFELONG LEARNING. Whether you begin working right after graduation or it takes longer than you wish, create a learning plan and keep learning and connected to your industry and other areas which interest you. You can take advantage of free courses online or pay for courses that interest you. The more you know and the more up-to-date you are on the local, international and industry news, the easier it will be for you to have something meaningful to say in your networking conversations and job interviews and when you meet others as you go about your day. The more you know, is the greater your self-confidence will grow, and the quicker you will be able to identify opportunities to achieve the goals which are important to you.