College graduates generally are more employable, have higher lifetime income, and have more opportunities for promotion over the course of their lives. Many of today’s students go into college for increased professional opportunities, but not all of them make the connection between their college education and the professional life they dream for themselves. The college schedule is dense and doesn’t leave much extra room or energy for career exploration (let alone anything else). That’s why it’s especially important that a career mindset is incorporated into an outlook of planning beginning the summer before freshmen year. By talking about careers early and encouraging real-world experiences, students are much more likely to land a job straight out of college.
Consider this scenario. A recent college grad walks into an office without an interview asking if the company has a paid or internship position.While the company had no openings, the manager decided to interview the grad anyway. It didn’t take long to see this candidate hadn’t come prepared. He had a resume and a college degree, even an internship in a related field, but still came off as incomplete. After this interview, the manager realized he was the perfect example of the disconnect between education and career. No manager is going to take a risk on a graduate if they are not prepared.
The following are five things that would have helped this new college graduate represent himself better:
Have a complete resume: This job seeker listed basic information under the fields Education, Experience, and Skills. However, nothing on his resume made him unique. The resume didn’t answer what position he hoped to fill, what he could bring to the company, or any skills he possessed that are needed for a job in editorial.
Have at least two references: This job seeker had experience volunteering and had an internship in college. These would have been strong references, however, he came prepared with no references written references and no mention of anyone in particular who could speak to his skills and abilities.
Research the company you are interviewing at: When asked what he could contribute to the company or why he wanted a position, he didn’t have any specific answers. A company’s website and social media presence tells a lot about what they do as a company. Had he researched the company online, he could have come prepared with specific questions and ideas for how he could help contribute to the mission.
Know the answer to questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and/or “What is your ideal job?”: Many college grads know exactly what they want to do when they get out of college. Others go for their degree first and feel around for careers later. No matter which they are, they should come prepared with an idea of what they hope to do in their career, especially if they are actively searching for a job at a company. It is okay if that is a general idea; an employer is looking for your thought process and if you have no idea your larger goals and planning appear weak.
Show enthusiasm for the company you are interviewing with: By not coming prepared with specific interests, tailored questions, and knowledge of the company, this job seeker showed the company that they were one stop on a list of many others– no more special than securing a minimum wage job in fast food. With few customizations to his resume, some research, and a few questions about the company, he could have powerfully positioned his attitude and skills in a way to add value to the company, at least as an intern.
This job seeker was going through the motions of finding a job, but was lost as far as what to do when he got there. The biggest lesson we should learn from a job seeker such as this is to be prepared. If you aren’t sure how to write a resume, use a template from the internet or KEYS TO BUSINESS COMMUNICATION. Stage mock interviews with your friends or family and practice answering the most common interview questions. There are many creative ways job seekers can prepare for an interview and many ways all of them can stand out as unique. The way you prepare for, plan, and execute your interview is the biggest indicator a prospective employer has on the work and value you might contribute. Make it sterling.
For students just starting college, it’s never too early to start planning for your career. Entering freshmen can prepare with LifeBound’s MAJORING IN THE REST OF YOUR LIFE to learn about the value of internships, how to get involved at school, and how to land a job out of college. It’s the best $13.95 you’ll spend toward your career.