How Your College Placement Office Lied To You

Jun 13 2012 in Featured, Job Search Strategy, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

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Your college (and grad school) placement office didn’t have some evil plan to trick you.

They just had different goals and agendas than you.

You’re probably thinking, “How could my college placement office have different goals than me? Weren’t they trying to get me a job?”

Not exactly.

However, getting you a job was a by-product of the college placement office’s goals. Plus, by promising they’d find you a job if you followed their instructions, the placement office convinced you to help them meet their goals.

So if your college placement office’s goals weren’t to find you a job, what were they?

A college placement office is the corporate marketing department of a university department or college. Their goal is to brand the college as a manufacturer of a consistent quality of worker, much like McDonald’s brands its hamburgers, so consumers expect the same consistent quality from New York to LA.

Their secondary goal isn’t even to find you a job … it’s to brand the university as having an expected placement rate. It doesn’t matter to your college placement office whether they found you a job or helped other students find one, as long as they kept placement rates from decreasing.

To reach both their primary and secondary goals, your college taught you how to brand the college, rather than yourself.

See if this sounds familiar … you were taught to write a one page resume, using a consistent format, consistent fonts and consistent sections. If you tried to get creative and submit a resume that was different than the accepted format, your college placement office warned you it would be rejected.

Your resume had to look like everyone else’s because the placement office published it in a book (now an eBook) that they sold to employers. So your placement office wanted all the resumes to look the same, branding the university as the producer of a consistent quality worker.

To make matters worse, your placement office told you that they were teaching you tactics to use to job search for the rest of your career.

So they taught you to write a resume that looks like everyone else’s, as the cornerstone of your job search efforts.

Is that what you want to do today?

Of course not – for the rest of your career, you’re advised to differentiate yourself, to show how you’re different and unique.

But differentiation is so difficult for most of you, because all you’ve been taught centered around a resume that looks like everyone else’s. How can you differentiate yourself using a resume that looks the same as every other resume? You can’t.

This is also why so many of you brand yourself in a way that’s confusing to your readers and even in conflict with your own goals (and in conflict with the details of your resume). You were taught how to brand yourself as a commodity … to look just like everyone else.

Remember, you were trained how to brand your college … not yourself. So when you read about personal branding, you think “I know how to do that – just do what I was taught in school” … and then you create a personal brand that might benefit your school (if you were a new grad), but not one that differentiates yourself as a superior candidate.

So how do you solve this problem?

Start with a clean slate … by forgetting everything you were taught about job search. It’s all changed.

Next, search this site for articles about personal branding and social branding. Plus, stay tuned for new content you’ll find on this site and on my Resume Revolution Webinar .


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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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