Today I spoke with Emily Bennington, coauthor of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job. Emily is a weekly contributor to the Personal Branding Blog, and in this interview, she talks about how she was inspired to write her book, her experience in the publishing process, why new graduates need career advice, and her future goals.

What inspired you to write Effective Immediately?

When I graduated from college, I didn’t have a job, wasn’t sure how to find a job, and felt completely unprepared to enter the workforce. Having just returned from two semesters in Europe with a five-figure credit card debt, however, I needed to figure it out pronto. So I went to a local temp agency to see if they could help me land at a marketing firm when, in a complete stroke of luck or fate, a marketing firm called while I was in the office and needed someone who could start the next day. I got the job.

I wound up staying at that firm for almost eight years, but my first 12 months or so were a case study in unprofessional behavior. I eventually found myself under the direction of Skip Lineberg who became my first mentor and his belief in me shaped my career in profound ways. Because of the significant leaps I made in my own professional development, I began to have a persistent desire to share what I’d learned. I began keeping a notebook of career lessons and observations that I hoped would benefit other newbies. When I approached Skip about co-authoring a book, he thought I was crazy. After I flew to New York for Book Expo and returned with an agent, he knew I was serious.

What was the publishing process like for you?

Long. When I started writing the book that eventually became Effective Immediately in 2003, a lot of people – including Skip – were skeptical about our odds of success. My own family even called it “the project” for years, as in “Are you working on ‘the project’ today, Emily?” They couldn’t admit that it was a book because being a published author seemed like such an insurmountable dream.

I’ve written on this blog already about my journey to becoming published…. about how it took two years to find an agent, another three years to find a publisher, and another 18 months after that to get to market. I’m the proud owner of more than 50 rejection letters, but I never once thought about quitting. I always knew this book was going to come out eventually, so I used the “downtime” to write. Actually, by the time Effective Immediately finally sold to a publisher, Skip and I had already written well over half of the text. We also used the time to continue to build our platform (speaking, blogging, social media, etc.) which has really helped us because we are relying on those networks now to promote the finished product.

Of all the stages in one’s career, why did you feel compelled to write for new grads just entering the workforce?

Because I know what it’s like to have the technical skills to do a job, but lack the executive presence to get ahead. Also, as businesses have been pared down and operating more and more on skeleton staff, it seems no one is directly responsible for onboarding new associates anymore. Grads today are left to ‘sink or swim’ and learn the ropes of success on their own at the precise time when first impressions matter immensely. It’s really unfair how much we expect new professionals to come straight out of college and “get it” immediately. I guess because it took me a while to catch on, I feel compelled to help others avoid my fate.

What’s next?

My next project is a guide for young women looking to establish themselves as leaders in corporate environments. I’m writing the proposal now with Nicole Crimaldi (a.k.a. “Ms. Career Girl”) and just hoping it doesn’t take us three years to find a publisher for this one!

Emily Bennington is the coauthor of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job. A frequent speaker to college students and organizations, Emily helps career newbies transition from classroom to boardroom while dodging the usual rookie sinkholes. She is particularly passionate about volunteerism as a means of leadership development and advancing the skills of young women in the workplace. Emily also teaches a graduate-level course on social media and hosts a popular career blog, In addition to The Huffington Post, she is a contributor to the Personal Branding Blog, a member of the CAREEREALISM team of experts, and regularly provides guest articles for other notable career sites. Emily can be reached on Twitter @EmilyBennington.