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I am sitting in exit row seat 12C and looking out the window at the great Florida prairie. Led Zeppelin’s Heartbreaker is blasting through my ear buds and I’m thinking about the talk I gave last night to The University of Florida Ad Society.
Twitter-PostMy talk was originally going to be about some of the things I’d learned in the ad business in the last 30-something years (gulp) since I was a design student at UF. But listening to the students report on their doings before my talk inspired me to change my entire presentation at the last minute.

Instead of talking about what today’s companies need to do to build their brands, I talked about what today’s students need to do to get an internship or a job.

What I realized as my talk progressed was that the techniques for building a great brand are the same whether we’re talking about Rolex or Rolando, Mercedes or Mercy, Samsung or Samantha.

As we’ve discussed so many times in this digital discussion, people don’t buy what you do, they buy who you are. And students looking for employment need to understand that simple statement just as clearly as the brand manager trying to sell her company’s products.

Of course accomplishments and skills are critical to getting a job. But like the functional attributes of the last car you bought, those accomplishments are just cost of entry. In other words, if a car doesn’t get from point A to point B, doesn’t get good gas mileage or doesn’t operate flawlessly, you’re not going select it. But just because it does all those things doesn’t mean you’re going to select it either. First you have to WANT that particular automobile in your driveway.

By the same token, if a student doesn’t have the proper degrees, computer skills or industry knowledge, they’re probably not going to get hired. But just because they do have those things doesn’t mean they’re going to get hired either. That’s because those skills are merely table stakes in the employment game and because these days, students with those attributes on their resumes are a dime a dozen.

Speaking of resumes, why do they all start with the same run-on sentence? “I am endeavoring to find an employment situation where I can utilize my professional skills in a productive and fulfilling environment committed to personal growth, creative expression, and increasing remuneration opportunities.”

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to read a student resume that started differently? “It’s my lifelong dream to be an art director. I will work 24/7 doing anything you need for the chance to learn my craft and prove that I can be valuable to your company.”

I found it shocking that fewer than one third of the students I spoke to use social media to prepare for their job search. For the first time in history, democratized media has made it possible for students to build rapport with the people they are planning to interview with before they actually meet them, turning difficult cold calls and awkward first meetings into warm calls and expanding relationships. And yet, today’s digital natives not taking advantage of the technology they grew up using.

Social Media Logos

Randy-GageRandy Gage, prosperity thought leader, says he gets more new business leads and speaking requests on Facebook than from calls into his office. How? Randy spends two hours a day on social media, building his tribe of followers and potential customers across Twitter, FB, and YouTube. He uploads his blog posts five days a week and adds a new VLOG (Video Log) to his YouTube channel every Monday.

Randy believes that to build your own followers and create your own opportunities you’ve got to have a point of view and get out there and promote your message and offer valuable content. And he’s certainly the poster child for practicing what he preaches.

How does he get it all done? Because the first word of social media is social, Randy eschews auto posts and other mechanized tools and builds his tribe by creating real-time online relationships one person at a time. And for those of you who are reading this and asking, “Two hours? Who the hell has two hours a day to spend on social media?” Randy would answer that because there’s nothing else that brings as much business to his website, there’s nothing more valuable he could be doing with his time.

Whether you’re looking for your first job, making a career change or promoting your own business, I’m confident this strategy will work for you, too. And if you’re an Ad Society student at the University of Florida, I’m especially talking to you.

Go Gators!