To the college grads

You’re worried that you won’t be able to get a job right out of college.  That’s understandable, because you probably won’t.  And if you do, it will be through your dad or your friend’s parents or whatever.  More likely, you’ll be looking at lame jobs for companies that move at a glacial pace.  Companies that stifle creativity, or think creativity’s limits stop at decorating your desk or using props during powerpoint presentations.  The kind of companies that are “safe” and unremarkable.

If you want to work for them, that’s fine.  They’re just not really going anywhere.  And neither will you.  The companies that will thrive in this recession/depression are the ones who take smart risks, differentiate, and innovate.  The companies that will decompose are doing the opposite: playing it safe, standardizing, and sticking with their old routine.

The only way you can get the attention of the innovators is to prove you’re worth hiring.  A bullet point resume doesn’t cut it.

So start building your portfolio.  Take on a project.  Volunteer at local conventions.  Do a month of free work for websites that are thriving.  Start a blog.

Ironically, the thing that has the most potential to hurt your career right now is taking the safe route.  And there are plenty of great opportunities out there if you stray from the common path.  So learn to disdain the status quo and start crafting a remarkable story for yourself.

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Charlie Hoehn is the author of Play It Away, Play for a Living and Recession Proof Graduate. His work has been featured on NPR's TED Radio Hour, Forbes, Fast Company, and Harvard Business Review. Previously, he was the Director of Special Projects for Tim Ferriss. Currently, he is the Head of Video at Book In A Box. He lives with his wife and daughter in Austin, Texas.

This Post Has 8 Comments

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    @Slammer – I think the best way I’ve discovered to promote yourself is by being extremely pro-active. You can do this by making something to show to companies you want to work with. So for instance, if you design websites, you make a template in photoshop on how you would improve the layout of a company’s website, send it to them unsolicited, and then say you’ll design their site. No one really cares if you just say “I design websites, maybe I could do yours.” You have to make it appealing for them right out of the gate.

  4. Tom

    Good post. I’m no expert, but here’s what I know so far.

    Even if you don’t know exactly what it is you want to do, just go out and try something. Get your feet wet. Offer to help someone important on a project. The internet has made it easier than ever to connect with important people. You may make some good connections that may help you in the future, but more likely, nothing will come out of it but the valuable experience you will be able to utilize in the future.

    Reading blog posts like this can be inspirational. But there’s a point where you need to stop reading, and just go do something. There’s nothing more therapeutic than action.

  5. Devin Reams

    One cause I’ve suggested getting behind is the TED Prize. Here is the opportunity to get involved with some of the smartest, most accomplished people in the world.. just let them know what you can do to help!

  6. Slammer

    charlie, i like this too, but what do you think is the best way to represent this extra-curricular activity? pro-actively- such as provide a link to your website with a description on your application? Bust out in the interview your marketing pack that you send to customers? Bring along your business plan?

    or something more subtle- hint at it and wait until asked further…? should promoting yourself in this way come before even getting an interview or applying for a position?

  7. Leon

    This was great! I am doing exactly the three steps outlined. Thank You!

  8. Leon

    This was great! I am doing exactly the three steps outlined. Thank You!

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