Launched book

Read an Excerpt from Launched


This book’s system is timeless, but its timing is not. 

As I write this, it is the summer of 2020 and the world is ensnared by the Covid-19 pandemic. I’m looking for a good piece of wood to knock on while I contemplate being thankful for my family’s good health to this point. But the world outside is turbulent, to say the least. The pandemic has changed everything, and it’s unclear at this moment when, if and even how it may abate. 

Amidst the global devastation in deaths, sickness and fear — and an empathetic concern for others whose fate has been worse than our own — it’s fair to consider a few simple questions as a college student or new college graduate: “What will this mean to me?” and “How will my career get started now?” 

That’s not selfish or petty. It’s realistic and practical. 

In the years leading up to 2020, it was easy for college students to feel confident about life after graduation. The longest economic expansion in U.S. history heralded record-low unemployment and a humming entry-level job market. You may have had well laid plans to start your career, or felt that considering your early career choices could be safely delayed until it was time to get your first job after graduation. 

But as the coronavirus swept the world, the flywheel of college students entering the workforce quickly busted. According to Glassdoor, more than half of 2020’s summer internships were cancelled. Most of the remaining ones turned virtual — often offering far less valuable experiences than originally planned. Countless other jobs were lost. Those impacted now know the feelings and fears of an experience gap that’s easy to explain but hard to stomach. That lost opportunity has its cost, and its effects will be felt for years to come. Looking forward, you may be feeling a sharp pinch of anxiety as you consider your job prospects after college. You’re left to regroup and focus on looking for new ways to regain momentum and successfully launch your career. 

But fear not.

If you’re graduating, or have already graduated, and you’re trying to figure out how to get your career off the ground, this book will help. 

If you’re still early in your college career and you want a career foundation game plan for your remaining years as a student, this book will help. 

If you haven’t figured out what you want to do for a career when you’re out of college, this book will help. 

If you were so busy working at any job you could find just to pay for college, and wonder how that experience translates to your chosen career, this book will help.

Why should you believe me? 

For one, I’m a pioneer in the online recruiting industry. I have an insider’s perspective on how hiring really works and the technology that drives it. I was an executive at CareerPath, a consortium of newspaper publishers who combined their employment advertising into what at the time was the world’s largest online jobs database. Under my direction, CareerPath also developed groundbreaking online recruitment tools including one of the Web’s largest and deeply searchable resume databases. Later, I ran MonsterTRAK, the new-college grad arm of the job listings giant, which developed the software that major employers and college career centers used to manage hiring of tens of thousands of students annually. 

I also know hiring from the perspective of more than 25 years as a technology industry leader. I’ve sat on the other side of the table from job candidates of all levels of experience — from college students seeking internships to prospective chief executives. I’ve interviewed and hired hundreds of professionals, so I know intimately how recruiting is done in the real world. 

With the benefit of that experience, let me share a little secret that many of us in the hiring world know, but few will say: college students and new college grads aren’t very good at presenting themselves to the full-time job market. 

Sure, there are candidates who perform impressively well. But I’ve also witnessed with dismay that most candidates fail to execute the most obvious and simple strategies to stand out, be noticed and get hired. It has always surprised and saddened me that altogether too commonly, candidates aren’t prepared to perform well enough in an interview setting to get a job. Further, most young candidates aren’t adept at describing how their limited work and life experiences translate to marketable job skills. 

Truth is, it’s not that hard to do with a little guidance and practice — even in this era of significant uncertainty. 

I wrote this book as a guide that’s especially important in this time of change. It’s a step-by-step system to develop the skills that will be relevant to launching your career after college — no matter what challenges the new environment may bring. We are all living in a ‘new abnormal’, and there is indeed ground to make up. But this book will help you to regain some needed traction in order to effectively package and market yourself to get launched. 

Most of the lessons are evergreen. They teach you how to employ the standard tactics of succeeding as a high-ceiling professional prospect, and the things that most job candidates don’t do anywhere near as well as they should. I’ll share a framework to help you choose a career you’ll love. I’ll teach you how to master the craft of identifying and securing a job to start your career. You’ll learn to better prepare for interviews, construct a distinctly compelling resume, and how to present yourself as the uniquely interesting person you are. You’ll emerge with better tools than most professionals have at any level of their careers — not just students and new grads. 

Still, the standard tactics need some updating to fit a Covid-era career search. The pandemic has changed the rules of the game — in many ways, most likely, forever. Working from home and remote job searching are now the norm — requiring a new set of skills to master. As a college student planning the start of your career, or a recent graduate navigating this shifted landscape, you’ll need new levels of creativity to find work, gain experience and present yourself successfully to prospective employers. You may even need to change your intended career path if you’ve been targeting an industry especially shaken by the pandemic, such as retail, travel, entertainment or commercial real estate. 

“We’re moving away from a time when the question has been ‘Who do you want to be, what do you want to become,’ to ‘How do you get a job and participate in the economy so you can support yourself,’” said Kelley Bishop, who heads the career center at the University of Maryland, and previously held similar roles at Michigan State and Syracuse University. “When you do that, the needle starts to move back to the pragmatic.” 

Or as Scott Williams, longtime executive director of the career center at the University of Georgia, put it, “I think it’s just going to create a more competitive job market. Students are going to have to have that Plan B, and maybe that Plan C, in mind. I don’t think students thought about that as much over the last five years.” 

How will you be competitive? 

The most obvious form of experience, of course, is in jobs—via one or more internships or other work experiences during college or immediately thereafter. There’s no doubt that’s the best type of experience to have entering the workforce. Internships show employers that you’re focused, driven and that you’re acting on your career vision. Jobs — no matter the work you’re being paid to do — show employers that you’re responsible, mature and know how to contribute in a workplace. If you have good work experience, then you’re starting the race with a lead. Your next challenge is to learn how to leverage that experience to your best advantage. This book will teach you how. 

But what if you haven’t had much work experience, or haven’t had the opportunity for internships? If that’s you, then you can still get back in the race. 

It’s critical to recognize that the experiences employers value aren’t limited to only those you gain in a job. The key to being attractive to employers is to create a compelling narrative about yourself based on all your accumulated life experiences. For example, you may have gained project management experience in volunteer activities, gotten leadership experience in school projects, or learned how to overcome adversity and strive for improvement as an athlete. These are all skills that employers value. This book will help you communicate all your relevant experiences as valued workplace skills, and to develop your unique story. 

The keys, in good and troubled times alike, are to stay active, test the bounds of your comfort zone, and never stop accumulating experiences. That’s the path to winning, and one where you can be in control even when the job market is tight. The winners will adapt and be more creative. To be one of the winners, you’ll need to learn to improve yourself virtually — through tactics such as online learning, self-teaching, and crafting experiences on your own to develop a portfolio of your work. You’ll need to be more proactive and strategic about how you choose a career path, how you prepare yourself for it, and how to assure that you’ll get maximum value from internships, jobs and other experiences. It’s a different world that requires a refined approach to career management for students in their college years and those seeking their first jobs after graduation. 

Employers will not simply accept as fate that the pandemic has slowed you down. Surely, they will understand the challenges. But they will be looking for how you overcame them. The most popular interview question over the next few years will be: “What did you do during the pandemic?” 

While the full, longstanding impact of Covid-19 is not yet known, one thing is certain. We have dug a hole, and we don’t yet know how deep it will be or how long it will take to climb out. In the near term, at minimum, we all must adjust. 

“I’m really going to be eager to see what happens now that we’ve gone from having one of the most delightful job markets any college graduate could wish for to now you’re back to what a lot of other generations have faced in hardship,” Bishop told me. 

How we got here 

The virus isn’t all that’s to blame, though. In many ways, the pre-pandemic boom masked significant underlying issues. 


To read on, buy Launched here.

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