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The Gen Y Job Hunt
This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
Recent graduates need a stepped-up game plan to tackle a tough job market. “The jobs are out there, but students need to go above and beyond to get them,” observes Susan Brennan, director of undergraduate career services. “You can’t expect to stay home, submit résumés online, and get a job.”
Networking events and job fairs are prime opportunities for meeting employers and alumni, Brennan adds. “And when students are at these events, they need to be comfortable with their elevator pitch and clear about who they are.”
This line of attack has a strong track record. Nearly 70 percent of Bentley students get their jobs through programs and other resources at the Miller Center for Career Services.
Home Team Advantage
Students’ work to differentiate themselves with employers should start as early as freshman year, according to Brennan.
“We reach out to help students explore and understand their passions,” she says of tools such as career assessments. “It’s the first step to building a personal brand.”
Bentley alumnus Dan Schawbel ’06 is similarly bullish on branding. He wrote the bestselling book Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success and blogs extensively on the topic at personalbrandingblog.com.
“You need to discover your brand before you can communicate it,” explains Schawbel, who was featured with marketing guru Seth Godin and other web luminaries in a recent issue of Details magazine. It’s about long-term thinking – figuring out where you see yourself and how you fit in to the world.”
Knowing and reaching your target audience is crucial. Toward that end, Bentley career advisers hold an average of 2,000 individual meetings per semester, discussing the résumé, cover letter, elevator pitch and interview.
“We also encourage internships to help students gain more focus and experience, and build a network,” says Alyssa Hammond, associate director of undergraduate career services.
And the payoff is big: Internships led to job offers for about 50 percent of graduates in the Class of 2009.
Many tech-savvy Bentley students are leveraging social media to pry an advantage with potential employers.
“They’re using it to help market their personal brand,” Hammond says of tools such as YouTube and Twitter. “It comes naturally because it’s the way they communicate.”
A case in point is former Marketing major Lisette Diamant ’09. When an initial job offer fell through, she worked with Career Services to schedule informational interviews. The many discussions with advertising executives, green marketing consultants, and consumer goods brand managers confirmed her passion for the field.
The self-dubbed “marketing FUNatic” began a blog (http://marketingfunatic.blogspot.com) and Twitter page that captured her enthusiasm Soon after, she landed a job as project manager with TracyLocke, a brand-to-retail marketing agency.
Company officials were impressed with her personal branding, the alumna reports. “They even pointed out specific blog posts they found interesting and ideas they thought were innovative.”
Still, job seekers must take care to keep their use of social media on a professional plane. To reinforce the point, Career Services staff created the film spoof CSI: Career Services Investigation, a lighthearted lesson in protecting one’s online image. Similarly, the seminar Social Networking and Your Job Search highlights the emerging tools and how to use them for best effect.
As Hammond observes: “It’s about standing out, but in a positive, professional way.”
Alec Biedrzycki ’09 did just that. His foot-in-the-door was a “musical résumé,” which went viral on YouTube and earned air time on CNN.
“The video helped me get noticed by lots of people,” he notes, “which led to interviews at several companies.”
Networking and perseverance were also in the mix – and led the alumnus to a position at Scratch Marketing+Media.
“It’s one thing to show how creative you can be,” says Biedrzycki, whose degree is in marketing. “But it’s another thing entirely to show that you can sustain a dedicated work ethic and still maintain that innovative mindset.”
President Larson, along with guest experts, joined Bloomberg’s Carol Massar and Cory Johnson, to talk about how college and universities are preparing graduates to navigate diverse environments.