Millenials are the best-educated generation, yet they also have higher unemployment rates than we’ve seen in recent decades. Millenials make up about forty percent of the unemployed in the U.S. Even when they find a job, the picture isn’t always pretty. Many new grads are in jobs that don’t require a college degree, others are in jobs not in their area of study.
It’s always been beneficial to distinguish yourself, but now it’s absolutely necessary. Personal branding rules in the new world of work, and you can rule, too. You need to be better prepared, savvier in marketing yourself and conduct a smarter job search. But you can do it. This book will show you how.
Even in a robust job market, you’ll need to brand and market yourself if you want to get a good job and not be furloughed into temp work or a sub-par job. Besides, futurists predict that we’ll be changing jobs every few years or so, so we’ll all have to be in permanent beta mode adapting and marketing ourselves.
Unless you’re summa com lucky, have the networking connections of a Rockefeller or are a top student majoring in engineering, computer science or finance at a top-tier school, chances are you will face periods of frustration, self-doubt and failure in the days, weeks and months after that happy day. It can be a long countdown to getting a real job and you can’t ease up until you do.
Frustration on a large scale is what sets the millennial and upcoming generation Z apart because it’s hard to get a good job out there. Okay, we all know the transition from university to a career has often been rocky. Unemployment has generally been significanlty higher among people 20 – 24 than the overall unemployment rate. Finding your first job has always been somewhat of a Catch 22. You need experience to get a job, and your need a job to get experience.
But today, what’s always been a dilemma, in the new economy has become a crisis.
It’s not that the new generation isn’t working hard to find a job, but maybe they’re not doing what’s needed for the reality of today’s job market. You’re competing with other new grads and more experienced job seekers willing to accept beginning-level salaries. And you can be squeezed out by financially strapped baby boomers who are retiring later.
After all, a young job seeker, even one who’s had some good internships, can’t compete that well with a candidate with years of experience and extensive contacts. No wonder so many college seniors and new grads feel anxious about their future.
What’s a newly minted B.A. to do?
New and Improved! Marketers are always looking for ways to improve their brand with updates and new features, and to communicate those brand benefits to customers.
You need to do the same. Often people focus on being promoted, but sometimes a lateral move is the best one because it adds to your skill set and experiences in a way that the next move up the ladder doesn’t provide.
Sometimes, it even makes sense to take a step backward, if it points you in a new direction whether there are fewer entrenched competitors and more potential for you to stand out and be a leader.
Remember: the best career move is the one that positions you for the future.
I have always found it hard to find clothes that are professional and stylish. Finally, there is a group of fashion startups launched by women focused on clothes you can actually wear to the office. Bloomberg Business Week features four of them: MM. LaFleur, Senza Tempo, Argent and Les Lunes in its Fall Style Special.
It’s important, especially for women, to look the part at work because of the connection people make between how you look and how people perceive you and your abilities on the job. You’ll never make it to the C-suite if you look like a secretary.
Dressing for work has always been easier for men. Men tend to wear a uniform to work: a dark suit and tie in a formal office setting and khakis and a button down shirt for casual offices.
Women have more choices but also more opportunities to blow it. As the Argent website puts it, “Women face a sartorial double bind, too original or forgettable, too feminine or not enough, too uptight or casual. It’s time to change the conversation – and your clothes.”
How you dress is even more important than serving as a means to create positive perceptions about your abilities.
Studies have found that what we wear at work even affects how we perform. You truly can dress for success.
Almost half of U.S. jobs and one-third of jobs in the U.K. are at risk of being automated, according to a 2016 study by Oxford University.
So when choosing a career path, we must figure out either what jobs computers could never do or what roles we will absolutely insist be done by a human, even if computers could do them.
That’s a lot to think about.
It used to be about, “Can you do the job?”
Now it’s about “Can you make a better impression
than the other 200 people who can do the job?”
What’s truly different today is the quality of the competition, and the sheer volume of it. The fact is the economy in most countries is not growing fast enough to handle the number of entry-level employees (top STEM graduates excepted). Millennials, young adults now in their twenties, are the best-educated generation, yet they also have higher unemployment rates than we’ve seen in recent decades. They make up about 40 percent of the unemployed in the U.S. Even when they find a job, the picture isn’t always pretty. Many new grads are in jobs that don’t require a college degree, others settle for jobs outside their area of study.
It’s always been beneficial to distinguish yourself, but now it’s absolutely necessary. Personal branding rules in the new world of work, and you can rule, too. You must be better prepared, possess marketing savvy, and conduct a smarter job search. But you can do it.
Our facial expressions talk too, even when we’re not saying anything.
Studies show that women are more animated with more smiles, expressions, winks and nods than men on average. And that’s attractive!
Positive expressions like smiles are contagious and bring about pleasant responses in others (MRI tests of brain reactions demonstrate this.)
In researching my book, Women Who Brand, I spoke to a female executive who told me about a novel strategy she used a few times in her career when she was feeling stuck or burnt out. She made a vow to say “Yes” to everything that came her way for one month.
The first time she used her “Just say yes” strategy, someone asked her to join a volunteer group that would be entertaining female inmates at Riker’s Island over the Christmas holidays. Now, “Susan” didn’t want to spend the holidays in such a grim setting, but she had made her vow. So she said, “YES!” On the bus ride to the prison with other volunteers, Susan sat next to another executive who became instrumental in her career and life as a mentor, and who helped her get unstuck in her job.
Today, there is a constant drive toward innovation – and not just from the product development folks either. In world-class companies like PepsiCo, we all feel the pressure not just to execute well in the present but to help come up with innovative ideas to keep on top tomorrow.
Historically how to get innovative insights eluded scientists. Of course, we’ve all had our “Aha” moments, but some people seem to be better at coming up with innovations and creative solutions. Is there a way to cultivate an innovative mindset?
New breakthrough research using MRI and EKG technology is shedding light on Eureka moments and how they occur.
Here’s a key way that scientists feel you can do to encourage business innovation and other types of insights – just let your mind wander. Archimedes had his Aha moment in the bathtub and Descartes had his while watching flies on the ceiling. Not surprising in light of new research that reveals that daydreaming is a rich environment for insights.
Previously, scientists thought that not much was happening in the brain when your mind wandered. Now, research supports just the opposite. In fact, a new brain-scanning study suggests that “our brain may be most actively engaged when our mind is wandering and we’ve actually lost tract of our thoughts.” Scientists suspect that a wandering mind may catch new ideas and unexpected associations better than a methodical analysis of the facts.
In my book, “Women Who Brand,” I cited “empathy” as a key aptitude for women and personal branding, and talked about it as an important business tool. So how can you leverage empathy – the ability to perceive how someone else is feeling and to find a sense of similarity and understanding. How can empathy be of use in the business world? Here are some ways:
- Understanding the feeling and point of view of others: Empathy is the ability to understand and connect with other people – to walk in their shoes as it were. When you use empathetic listening, people feel understood – even if you don’t end up agreeing with them. Most important, when you understand others, their concerns and approach, you will be better able to persuade and suggest solutions to problems.
- Building consensus and promoting teamwork with diverse groups: Empathy is particularly relevant for today’s modern, global companies in which people from different cultures, backgrounds and status need to work together as a team to solve problems and reach important company goals. For 21st century companies, empathy can make the difference between success and failure of the business.
- Developing a reputation as fair and balanced leader: As a boss, what you convey non-verbally has a tremendous impact. In one study, bosses gave employees a poor performance review, but did it in an empathetic, caring manner. People rated the experience positively. Then the test was flip-flopped. Bosses gave a positive review but did it in a cold, uncaring manner. Even though the verbal message was positive, people felt far worse than those who received the poor review.
In short, empathy is powerful. From a branding perspective, empathy will help you create positive perceptions about Brand You. From a business perspective, it will help you perform better.