Standing Out From The Crowd…
I chatted with Derek Magill via Quora, over a question I asked on How can college students leverage social media to get interviews at startups?. When Derek gave his answer I was astounded by the strategy he provided me: using Facebook Ads Manager to target key employers to showcase his resume.
Derek is the Director of Marketing at Praxis, a one-year long personal accelerator that helps young people with getting jobs and get an apprenticeship in entrepreneurship to build a portfolio of marketable skills. We did a phone interview on December 6th on how college students can stand out today before graduation by leveraging the internet.
“Derek Magill dropped out of college a year and a half ago. He had to be creative to promoting himself to get a job.”
KS: What do you believe is the biggest challenge all job seekers face today?
DM: Right now, in particular, it would be differentiation in a marketplace that is over “credentialized.” 70% of people who graduated high school are attending college this year. The degree’s quality is getting watered down. How do you show you are a valuable team member? How do you stand out from the average bachelor’s degree holder?
KS: Is there another way to differentiate yourself online?
DM: It depends on the industry. Here are the general best practices I have:
- First, realize a degree now no longer a guarantees a job.
- Ask yourself: What is your value proposition (this is based on some research you’ve done, similar to a class project)?
- What is the company doing now and what do you see yourself doing with them in the future?
The most important thing to consider is this: you are not in a passive role anymore, you are being specific and showing what you can do.
KS: Would you say that taking the extra step to stand out matters?
DM: Yes. And if you have something concrete just show it, “here are XYZ things I think you can do for your marketing.” I can do these things for you, for free to prove that I can do it.
KS: Freelance work gets your foot in the door.
DM: Of course, offer your skills up for free especially when you are young. We have the ability to work for cheap; we have fewer responsibilities at our age. What can you do right now to get your foot in the door? All of this has to be done with a given timeline, so you don’t waste your time but, this shows your value prop and how you execute.
KS: What was the genesis of creating a Facebook Ad for your online portfolio/resume?
DM: I had experience with them and my experience with marketing definitely helped. Most importantly, I had to think outside of the box to showcase my abilities.
KS: What are the disadvantages of advertising your resume via FaceBook & social ads, if any?
DM: There is always a downside to any gamble you take. You want to take into account the company, what they are looking for, the culture, what exactly are you showing? The FaceBook ads might not fit the culture. You won’t show up to an interview with a finance firm with a hoodie and a t-shirt. Similar strategies to the ads will work with the right type of organization. The ideal target would be a marketing position if you are doing social ads for your resume. This is the biggest target for that right now.
For instance, investment banking might not be the best place to target however, it’s still open to experimentation. Not a whole lot of people are doing this so there is still room for trying. You won’t know that companies won’t like that approach until you try it. There are so many people with degrees that you need to do something different, be creative, and show your value before you even enter the door.
KS: How should you present yourself online in today’s marketplace (any best practices you have outside of social ads)?
DM: Personal website or any online platform, answers on Quora, posts on LinkedIn/medium.
Personal and professional dev makes you a better writer, thinking, creator.
It helps you slowly to establish yourself in the industry because it shows people what you know and they can latch onto. It is tremendously valuable when looking for a job or a client. The best thing you can do is create a blog and share your thoughts with the world and interact with other people in the industry and showcase your work to people in the industry.
It’s all about building a reputation. You are building your (online) resume. Compare these two candidates: A 19-year-old candidate who applies to a marketing firm and has a resume, and one has a website with 15-20 articles. The person who shows their intelligent thoughts will be miles ahead from a person who doesn’t.
KS: Ok, so this is definitely a lot of information. How can college students get started?
DM: Quickest, easiest, and best options you have to start are:
- Pick up a couple of topics you love and care about. Side note: that’s how Derek and I connected because we want to teach people
- Build an online presence and create a paper trail now!
- WordPress and Blog firms
- Amazon Reviews and reviewing books! This shows you read important books on your industry.
- Amazon reviews get indexed on google and can help you Personal Brand.
- A concrete example would be, if you are a developer you should be posting code on GitHub.
- Any intellectual should be answering questions forums and Quora now.
In the end, just don’t sit around and expect your resume to do the work for you. Adapt as needed and you’ll get better through the process.
What we have now is a consuming mindset, and then we do it for four years and when we have to build stuff after college we don’t know what to do. It’s better to build stuff now, and you’ll learn faster. College students who assume they can start after graduation and they already lost.
Let me know what value you found in this interview. Please leave a comment below and join the conversation.
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