When looking for professional growth, be it a new job or a new opportunity, people tend to say it’s hard only if you don’t know what you want. But what if you know exactly what you want and can’t seem to find anyone who’d give it to you?
In my generation (Gen Y), I’ve noticed a growing problem of great demand (from university graduates) and little real supply(from companies) when it comes to career advancement. Now, before all of you out there damn me as a pretentious snob, let me elaborate. Universities all over the world fill our conscience with the notion that we can be the best at what we pick if we work hard. They develop this false sense of security and self-achievement, just for our dreams to get crushed once we go out to the real world, a.k.a – the ‘job market’. To more eloquently explain my point, I’ll turn to my dear old friend – Marketing.
Think of yourself as a brand. You grow that brand over the years through developing various skills, creating a Unique Selling Point (USP), all done in an effort to increase your market share (your employability). You believe your product quality to be superior to that of other competitors on the market and your promotional efforts in line with the brand message, creating a 360 marketing strategy. Naturally, you can’t win every customer, so you pick a target market to focus your efforts in (the industry of your choice and the companies within it). Once you launch your product to those consumers, you expect for them to immediately buy it off ‘the shelves’, I mean, you’ve put so much work into your market research, right? Wrong! Due to the over-supply on the market and a low brand switching barrier (to other professionals of your caliber), no one seems to want to ‘buy’ YOU. It’s as simple as that. But don’t give up just yet.
You need to re-position your brand to fit the market needs. That may mean that you might have to get a job that is not exactly what you want to do, but gives you the chance to shine and climb up the ladder to the desired career once you’re in the inside. Mark O’Toole from HB, a renowned US based Marketing & Advertising agency, talks about 11 reasons why he won’t hire YOU as a fresh graduate. The moral of his story is – get with the times or get off the market. Harsh, but true.
So yes, my personal advice is – keep refreshing and reshaping your brand, stay on top of the market trends and adapt towards your customers’ needs. I’m not saying to completely abandon your brand values, but flexibility is key in today’s world. Eventually, by doing so, you will be able to match supply and demand and establish yourself as the professional your university professors kept repeating you can become.