I’ve been reading the Personal Branding blog since it began. I only wish it had been around when I graduated from college and started my first job at a New York-based PR agency in 1998.
I thought I would climb the ladder quickly and be promoted in a year, no sweat. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out quite how I planned. In that first job, I crashed and burned. My supervisor didn’t like me at all, calling me into her office and criticizing me for being self-absorbed and overeager in meetings. I felt like a total failure.
I wish I could say that things turned around from there, but I struggled in various positions until I finally realized that the problem was not the jobs; it was me. I took a hard look at myself and started taking personal development classes, learning the necessity of things I hadn’t even considered before, like how to build and maintain a strong personal brand and how to take responsibility for my own career. And that was when I finally started to experience the success I’d worked so hard for.
These days, I’m a business and workplace author and speaker. Last year, I participated on a committee that advised the Obama administration on how to better prepare students and young professionals for the workforce. Led by the Business Roundtable, we began our work with a survey that asked hundreds of employers what skills they feel college graduates are missing when they start their first jobs.
You can imagine that personal branding was right at the top of the list, as were things like how how to build relationships, how to manage emotions, and how to solve problems. The Business Roundtable and I responded by working with the HR Policy Association and Accenture to develop a free 90 minute online course, JobSTART 101, that teaches young professionals these skills in a fun and interactive format. The course will be universally available on November 1, so please feel free to check it out and let us know what you think.
If there’s one thing I wish I’d known when I was first starting out, it’s that you can be the most intelligent, competent employee in the world, but if you don’t have outstanding communication skills and your co-workers don’t like you, it won’t matter. It is my hope that my work today – with JobSTART 101 and beyond – will help young professionals avoid some of the agida I experienced in my early career and reach high levels of achievement much sooner!
Alexandra Levit is a bestselling author, renowned national speaker, and frequent syndicated columnist on issues facing modern employees. Her goal is to help people find meaningful work – quickly and simply – and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Learn more at www.alexandralevit.com.