The average college education today will cost between $33,000-40,000 at a public college or university. What’s even worse is the growing number of states that are experiencing a spike in tuition rates due to struggling economic conditions and state deficits. The last thing any college graduate wants to experience after paying 4 or more years of tuition is that they will be unemployed for a lengthy period of time. More often than not, career fairs across the country are seeing older graduates or people who are considering switching gears and going into a new career field. Fortunately, in the age of digital communication, people now have the opportunity to reinvent themselves in the interim. Just because you are unemployed does not mean that you have to sit idly by and watch any chance at a professional career go down the drain. There are ways to keep yourself in the loop, and even reinvent yourself.
One of the first things that you should consider when attempting to brand yourself is the audience in which you are targeting. Professionals in the arts and entertainment industry have a little more leeway as to what they put out into the universe. They can afford to express themselves in nonconventional ways because creativity is what’s valued in their field. As one artist once told me, “The weirder, The better”. So if Suzy Q who works in the Art Department at an advertising agency wants to have a skull and crossbones on her Twitter wallpaper background that is perfectly acceptable. But for John Q who is interning at the Governor’s office, this is a total kiss of death. Be aware of what the corporate culture is like in your field, and be sure to adhere to the norm.
Another thing you need to consider is flexibility. People want to see that you are willing and able to do whatever is necessary to stand out as an expert in your field. It is not a good idea to be full of demands or restrictions when you are making an attempt to stand out amongst others vying for a position in your field. Whether you are applying for a position with an established firm, or attempting to venture out as a solo entrepreneur, it is important to show people that you are passionate about what you do, and that means being flexible when it comes to participating in potential opportunities. If a potential client is looking for something that you are not sure you can provide, or haven’t had experience in providing, try and reach a compromise with them and meet them half way. People have to know that you value their time and energy, and that you are willing to deliver what you say you can deliver.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to show a little humanity when it comes to your work. As mentioned previously, you do have to take into consideration your particular field of interest. But in today’s day and age, showing a little bit of personality is sometimes a very welcome change. Employers and clients want to know that you can adapt to changing environments and stand on your own in times of crisis. When crunch time emerges, your personality is what’s going to stand out on paper amongst your competition. Try and take the time to engage with others whenever the opportunity is presented. People will get a chance to know a little more about you and possibly consider you for potential projects based on their previous interactions with you. Participate in company functions, after work socials, and lunch meetings. If you are unemployed or looking for clients, try engaging with others in your field by using social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. This will give you a chance to bounce ideas off of one another, share information, and even critique one another. Whatever method you choose in order to be social and interact with others, make sure you take advantage of each and every opportunity. That interaction just may lead to your next big break!