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Brand You: Advice for College Grads
By: Maryann Fabian
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You heard the lofty speeches from billionaires, celebrities, presidents, etc. at commencement. Now here’s what you really need to know to succeed in life.

Your job prospects are much better this year, compared to grads from two years ago. But you can still increase your chances of finding what you want by following these tips:
  1. Clean up your digital life. Or switch to a pseudonym for the personal stuff that can't be linked to your professional life. Your social media savviness is a definite plus, but all those drunken spring break photos? Desperate tweets begging the cast of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta to follow you? Imagine them all on the HR director’s laptop screen right next to your resume, because they will be.
  2. Pull your credit report. If you see a mistake, fix it. Employers also look at your credit rating as a measure of your character. If it comes down to you and another candidate, and her credit rating is better, she will look like less of a risk. Oh, and P.S., your car insurance provider looks at your credit score, too.
  3. Research and network! If you find out that someone in HR or the marketing department is a sorority sister or volunteers at your favorite charity, that’s your edge up. Join the gym that's closest to where you want to work. The execs probably work out there in the morning before heading in to the office.
  4. Think big picture. Do you really need a master’s degree? Plan out what you want to do 20 years down the road. Ask for an information-only interview with someone in that position. Ask that person what it took to get where he/she is now.
  5. Practice your elevator speech for, you know, when you meet that exec at the gym. What can you offer a company? What makes you the right candidate?
  6. Spell check your resume. A person will actually read your resume as well as a machine. Good grammar will get the person’s attention. And here’s a trick for getting the machine’s attention: Load it with keywords from the job listing. Make them 6 pt. and white (invisible to the naked eye) and hide them in the header. HR’s computer will pick them up. 
  7. Show off your skills by creating a Twitter resume or an Infographic.
  8. Stand out by bringing something new to the table. Are you a sociology major with a business minor who can add behavioral insight to the department? Did you intern with the competition?
  9. Mind your manners. Turn off your smartphone before you go in for the interview. Respect the dress code. Remove distractions that can have you remembered negatively: nose ring, uncovered tats. Send a handwritten thank-you card to everyone you met. (Yes, handwritten.)
Once you get that first job, here are a couple more things to keep in mind:
  1. Pace yourself. Your generation has been described as being addicted to immediate gratification. It’s not gonna happen that way with your career. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint. The first few years can be a great learning experience or they can be drudgery. Most likely, a mix of both. You won't be running the company in two years. Sure, it could happen, but you have a better chance of winning Powerball. And speaking of money…
  2. We know you’re stressed about money. Here’s a secret: We all are. We just learn to deal. If you didn’t learn financial management techniques in college, you really owe it to yourself to learn.
Good luck, new grads! Post and let us know how it's going.

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About the Author
Maryann Fabian is a copywriter who has crafted the voice of some of this country's best brands.
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