College graduates, there’s still more work to do
May 17, 2013
College graduates will soon celebrate a grand achievement. Graduation is a farewell to the college campus and hello to the next phase of life. Is a job on the horizon? There's been optimism in recent job outlook reports. That's good news for sure. But hold off before you make that beeline to the beach. There's more work to be done if you want to compete in an extremely competitive job market. What sets you apart from other candidates? Here are a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing so you will be able to deliver the right response to that question.
Follow a passion and know your target
There is nothing more convincing than sincerity. If you are passionate with your pitch it shines through. Why? Because you believe it. Discovering your passion right out of college comes easy for some, but certainly not for everybody. Many degrees lead to a clear path, but others can be applied in multiple settings. While choices are appealing, they can be daunting too. It's best if you have a clear vision of where you're going. It's hard to hit a bull's eye if you can't find the target.
In today's easy-access-to-information environment, there's no excuse for failing to research businesses you are courting. Big business or small, it doesn't matter, you should know the basics. What is their mission statement and vision? Who are the major players? What are the company goals? Are there new products or services on the horizon? Research competitors as well. Know the industry. The more information you gather, the better it serves you to communicate your role and the value you bring to the table.
Dress for success
Corny? Maybe. True? Absolutely. College campuses are extremely casual and laid-back attire becomes the status quo after awhile. It's time to evaluate your look and ask yourself, while standing in front of a full-length mirror, "Will I meet the standards of my potential employer?" What is the dress code in the workplace of your choice? Find out. When interviewing, always dress at least one step above the desired position. Since casual attire has become so common in the workplace there is much controversy surrounding the subject of dress. It's better to err on the side of overdressed than jeopardize a job opportunity. Don't limit wardrobe improvements to interviews. Be aware of your appearance whenever networking opportunities arises. An article on LinkedIn addressing the subject of telephone interviews was titled "I can hear you in your pajamas!" When you are dressed down your demeanor is in a different zone. It's psychology 101.
Get noticed and network
Shake hands, introduce yourself and anticipate meeting connections wherever you go. Carry personalized business cards. Most jobs are obtained through networks. If you can receive a recommendation from a contact it may seal the deal. Attend job fairs, set up a LinkedIn account and join professional groups, not only online but also in person. Do yourself a favor. Don't hide behind a computer. Get noticed.
Be humble, but think big
You won't be the top dog at your next job. That's a fact. Everyone has to start somewhere. But that doesn't mean you won't get to top dog status, eventually. Be willing to start from the bottom and work up, but also continue to think and dream big. Be a visionary for your future. Don't make excuses for not excelling. Take risks. When failures set you back, learn from them.
Step out of your comfort zone
Try something different even if it makes you sweat. It's great to feel comfortable, but comfort doesn't allow for growth. Have faith in your abilities and be willing to work hard. Nobody ever got to the top by being comfortable. In the long run you won't be sorry.
Use available resources
Take advantage of your school's career center. Career professionals can advise you on job search skills. Numerous websites such as job-hunt.org, collegetoptalent.com and youtern.com will help as well. Research opportunities for internships on internships.com. Your job search will be your first full-time job. You will need to change your resume for each job to target the employer and you will apply for a lot of jobs using multiple methods.
Be smart about privacy
Assure that your social networking sites have the appropriate privacy settings. Is your online presence in line with your goals? Make sure it is. Congratulations graduates. Stay positive!
Gloria Sinibaldi is a career professional who has worked in the employment field for more than 20 years. She is a trainer coach and job developer. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.