Job Advice from Dan Schawbel

Category : Careers , College

We’re big fans of Dan Schawbel, a leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y. He is the author of “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, April 2009)” and has a lot of great advice for teenagers looking for summer and after-school jobs. Dan was generous enough to talk with us about some of his first job experiences and offer some great advice for’s users. Our conversation is below

MFP:  What was your first job as a teenager?
Dan: My first job as a teenager was as a caterer for my temple.

MFP:   How did you find that first job?
Dan: My father helped me find this job after networking at the temple.  He introduced me to the catering company and I helped out every Friday night for a few years.

MFP: What are some important things to remember when looking for/selecting a job?
Dan: You want to have a plan before you start applying to random jobs, especially right now, with a poor economy and a lot of pressure from the people around you.  I would recommend that you list the top 3-5 companies you want to work for instead of applying to thousands of job listings.  Also, you must recognize that job searching has changed a lot in the past five years.  It used to be impossible to reach hiring managers, which forced us all to apply for jobs through corporate websites and job boards, such as, and  Now, with the metaphoric rise of web 2.0, we can have just as much as a presence as any company, product or person, which means that we can reach just about anyone with a few clicks of a mouse.  This is a major evolution in how we network and find jobs.  The same basic rules of job hunting apply, such as having a great resume, a targeted cover letter and strong interview (communication) skills. Now, you need even more because you’ll be Googled before and after you’re interviewed and you have the ability to establish profiles online, such as LinkedIn, where hiring managers are searching for people just like you.

MFP: What are some important things to know for the interview, etc.:
Dan: An interview is incredibly important and these days, a single interview isn’t enough to secure a job.  Sometimes employers can make you go on three or four for a particular position.  What does remain the same is how you tackle the interview.  You need to do your homework before you sit down at that interview table, such that you know everything about the company and the people you’ll be sitting with beforehand.  Also, you’ll want to dress with a suit and have good posture.  It really helps to actually want to work at the company because you’ll come off more natural and enthusiastic.

MFP: How has that job helped you as you grow older?
Dan: My first job helped me with my interpersonal skills.  I had to setup, waiter and cleanup after a hundred people every week.  Anyone who is in the service industry would understand how challenging it can be, especially when taking orders from people you don’t know.  It helped me a lot in the business field, as well as in business because I learned how to tolerate people and how to make money.

MFP: What piece of advice would you offer somebody looking for a job?

Dan: You should become a content producer now, instead of just searching for a job.  This means that you should start a blog or a podcast series, where you can create content around your expertise and publish it for the world to see.  The end result is recruiters finding you and either hiring you or dismissing your content completely.  This is highly beneficial to you because you (and the recruiter) doesn’t waste time in the process, and the position you will receive will be right up your alley.

Dan Schawbel is the leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y. He is the author of “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, April 2009).” With over 150,000 results for his name in Google, Fast Company calls Dan a “personal branding force of nature.” He is the founder of the award winning Personal Branding Blog®, publisher of Personal Branding Magazine®, head judge for the Personal Brand Awards® and director of Personal Branding TV®.