Content Strategy for Young Job Seekers

One of my business professor heroes, Clayton Christensen, wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review entitled “How Will You Measure Your Life?” It impacted me greatly, and I wasn’t alone. To this day, it’s consistently one of the most read articles on the HBR website. It has spawned a popular book, a website, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page.

Christensen’s inspiration for all these things comes from an exercise he does at the end of each semester at Harvard during his “single most important class of the year.” He helps students think about their careers by asking them three questions. I won’t spoil things by giving away the questions. The point is that he encouraged these young people to be intentional about who they were, what they pursued, and how they communicated.

What brings Christensen to mind is that Joe Pulizzi and I just recorded Episode 132 of our podcast, This Old Marketing. My rant this week is about a recent article that warns young job seekers against creating a personal brand, an effort that the author deems “offensive.” In my rant, which you can hear (at the 46-minute mark), I point out that young people who post anything on the Internet are building personal brands – basically, digital reputations – whether or not that’s what they set out to do.

What happens on social media stays on social media (mostly), and any of it could come up in a Google search.

Today’s young job seekers owe it to themselves to put thought into how they want to be perceived and to live, and post, accordingly.

My rant comes down to the importance of content strategy. Whether you’re a young job seeker, a seasoned professional, or a large enterprise with an established brand, if you’re creating content, you need a strategy that includes the following:

  • Bandwidth to create the kind of content that best represents who you are.
  • Guidelines for what content you create and where you publish it so that you have the best chance of reaching your intended audience.
  • A governance model that keeps what you say and do within boundaries. (Saying no to just one more Tequila helps.)
  • Technology and processes that support what you want to do with your content.

As graduation season comes to a close here in the United States, many graduates are taking their first career-building steps – including creating all kinds of content that they hope will turn heads. Perhaps you have such a graduate in your life. Consider that, as a content professional, you have a lot to offer that young content producer. Why not offer to help him or her build a personal content strategy? Beyond helping one person find a job, you might pass on a differentiating skill that eventually helps that person help whole businesses flourish. You might reinspire yourself about the value you bring your own business. You might bring yourself a step closer to having an answer to Christensen’s question: “How will you measure your life?”