In this “new age” we’re all facing, the structure of work is changing, but the journey of a job seeker has become more difficult. Let’s be practical but pragmatic here, your “work life” is 30-40% of your life between the age of 23 and 60. Considering that, it requires effort and diligence at every stage. There are plenty of instructions and how-to’s everywhere, and you should look for the common themes in all of those. This is critically important for college graduates entering the workforce –– Here’s my take on the common themes, but your individual approach to these points should be unique to you.
Clarity. Be clear on what you want, why that is the case, and how you’re qualified to deliver. I’ve seen thousands of job seekers blindly submit applications with no direct correlation to that team and position. Self Awareness (one of the core soft skills) is an intrical part of this first step. Know you, know your career desires, and do your best to clearly articulate those.
Plan. Do your research! After you have clarity, you’ll need a plan in place to execute. In your area, know the employers that allow you the best opportunity to succeed and have fulfillment. The biggest part of success in a company is shared expectations and values within a team, mixed with a position that fits your work styles. Hint….sometimes it will not be the position and/or company you expected. Craft an approach to the leadership of these companies, and create a personalized/detailed inquiry for that company. It doesn’t have to be specific to an open position, and often this is the best approach because it shows a highly proactive approach. This planning will be instrumental for many college graduates, especially the ones not in niche degrees like engineering, finance, legal, etc.
A personally branded career story will differentiate you from many other applicants and will show your unique value proposition to the employer. Instead of 25-30 applications where you never hear back, focus on the 5-7 companies that present the best option for you. Remember, sometimes you may not be the “perfect match” on paper (for a job description), but that’s ok. Clarity and planning will go a long way to show your potential. Like a stock, we purchase a stock for its potential to grow in value. The best companies in the world should be looking at their teams (and potential hires) the same way.