You’re graduating this semester. Your resume is clean, you have your reference letters in order, your suit is pressed, and you feel confident your school trained you in the skills you need to land an entry-level job and climb up the career ladder. But are you sure you’re not missing anything?
Much of the hiring process and job skills people are familiar with are surface formalities, that definitely play a role in your landing the job, but don’t hold as much weight in retaining your position and advancing in your career. Over the years, I’ve had a number of employees and interns come in and out of LifeBound and observed firsthand where entry-level employees lack professional skills — most of the time in behaviors that aren’t evident on a cover letter or resume.
As you get ready to enter the world of work or think it’s time to advance in your career, consider how you can improve on some of the following qualities:
Uniqueness: During the hiring process, what makes you different than another candidate? Do you have unique experiences that showcase your ability to think outside of the box? If you’re employed, think of one thing you can do this week to show that you have a unique edge that sets you apart from your peers. If you don’t know yourself well enough to answer these questions, take the time to reflect on who you are. Know what matters to you and what you have to offer before someone asks you these questions during an interview.
Reliability: To retain your position and to advance, you need to show you’re reliable. Emergencies happen, but calling in weekly with new emergencies and misunderstandings tells your employer you aren’t someone who wants to stay-the-course and that you and your schedule aren’t ready for more responsibility. Be sterling with your word and your actions.
Ability to Assess: It’s not only the apathetic employee who can make the wrong impression. Enthusiastic employees can also go overboard, unwittingly. Do you talk over people? Do you interrupt when people are busy? Some people need to fine-tune their radar for assessing a situation. Pause before you dive into your next conversation with your boss or coworker. Read their body language. Consider if the information you have can wait if the other person is busy. Enthusiasm is great, but check to make sure you are being considerate of other people’s work space so that you can be credible.
A formal education and paperwork are only part of the employment process. Many things you will discover about yourself and about your field will only come to light through real-world experience. Show that you are someone who is willing to grow, learn, risk, and adapt in your job by working on the above qualities. Also, every once in a while, take a step back and self-assess. Are you happy in your job? Is there something you could do to make it better? How can your unique skills make a real contribution in your job, the community, the world? LifeBound’s career blog features insights from a young professional as well as someone who is a career success in mid life. Reading their insights will help open your eyes as you cross the next career threshold.