So you want a job?
Just graduated…or maybe been out longer, much longer…
Yes, no? To most, all, some?
Well, sorry to break the news, but if you answered yes to most of that and feel that way most of the time, you’ve got some serious growing up to do and likely have been given a ton of awful advice or ignored a lot of great advice.
Let’s try and break this all down…
You’re Entitled to Nothing
Yup – Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Get over it and get over it now. College likely lied. Most professors lied. Maybe you lied to yourself. In the real world if you’re not providing a firm or organization value in some significant way, no one needs you or to waste time, resources and money on you. Period.
You got loans? That a reality for most. Wait for a mortgage, car loans, your own kids loans. It’s life. If you majored in something feel good to you but useless to everyone else and you took out loans forever for that, well maybe that’s not a great decision. Own it. Deal with it. Start figuring it. Great if parents or a trust fund is there…but that’s not true for most.
Applying To Every Job Is Not A Plan
Stop just applying to jobs and finding new sites and applying to more jobs. It’s not what’s effective. I know there are stats but then it goes beyond that, way beyond it. When a thousand to ten thousand apply for one or two entry level openings and you depend upon that alone and a resume, you’re in for some serious frustration.
Who Are You Anyway And Why Should Anyone Care?
First, there’s you. Who are you, really? What makes you uniquely stand out that’s valuable to the space, the people, the firms you want to work for? Without that, well, you’ve got nothing but hope and darts thrown blindly.
Have a one liner about yourself that shows all I just wrote about. Often you’ll only get one chance for that first impression. If you can’t sell yourself like billboard on the highway, well, you likely can’t sell anything else. It takes a ton of practice but it’s an awesome lifetime exercise. I do it all of the time now and it works great fro deals, introductions, interviews and networking when your crisp and clear about who you are and why you matter in that moment.
A Bad One Liner…
My name is Becky, I’m a chemical engineer at Chem U and I work really hard, know about paints from work and I think I’m perfect for this job.
A Better One Liner…but could be even better…
I’m Becky, an emerging chemical professional with early experiences in pilot plant emulsion polymerization processes for house paint in one hundred to two thousand gallon reactors and I have an interest in a coatings product development career with your leading firm, Sherwin Williams.
Network Network Network….and Network
Talk to ten people a week. Connect to 20, 30 a week. Have a solid pitch in asking for advice, connections, knowledge. Promise something back and deliver. Prepare, ask questions, Skype, have breakfast, lunch, dinner. Do not stop. Be friendly. Be interested. Do your homework, have real discussions. Repeat repeatedly. Persistently plow forward and learn about careers. The right path will often emerge quite unexpectedly.
Internships are great, but limited in number. What to do? Create your own internships. Volunteer your labor, your emerging skills your services to firms, startups, charities, schools, non profits. Learn an industry from the ground up. Want to work in food, then work a grocery, in a restaurant, for a hotel, a caterer. You get the gist. You might even land the real dream job. Invent products, concepts, start a company design a company, a business model.
The point is to take destiny into your hands, make your own life as best as you can. Doing this of all things written here is what will really make you stand out.
No One Will Likely Personally Acknowledge Your Application
I’ve hired my hundred plus over 25 years, many new graduates. Digital or not, I’d get literally hundreds to now thousands of resumes for a single entry level position. First, if you think anyone is writing 25, let alone thousands of thank you notes or acknowledgements, you are not yet mature enough for the real world. No one has that time. No one.
No One Will Likely Ever See Your Resume
Second, no one is looking for your resume in that volume. What really happens? In my experience, I’ll scan the titles of the resumes from top to bottom if you will until I’ve accumulated 20 to 30 headlines that catch my attention – that convey that value and uniqueness, a depth of mind. Now I work with those. If it took 200 titles to get there and there are 400 who applied, you’re toast if your not physically in the top 200, especially ion entry level positions. That’s life. It’s. It not mean. It’s just reality.
The Resume – If Seen, You’ve Got About One Second
The resume? This is the about why you matter you part. No one wants paragraphs, they want titles, bullets. They want a highway billboard. A direct, succinct, why should I care approach. They want a one liner. You literally have about one second here.
You caught their attention? Then they want it backed up. They want quantification – I saved this much, produced this much, I improved that much, I won this and that. Bulleted. Please never ever write paragraphs. It only shows that your communication skills are poor. Stick to one liners, maybe an occasional word wrap, but only one line at best.
People hiring want unique and they want experience that shows the possible and that de-risks you. We said it above, we’ll say it again here. Volunteer. Design a firm. Start a firm. Give away free services. Show proven passion, initiative, self starting but also be humble. No one expects you to hit the ground running in any entry level position. No one is perfect for the job, so never say that or imply that. They expect hard work, diligence, deference, respect, knowing your place and thus how you fit and to learn first and contribute later. Actually say this stuff in interviews.
Beyond The Resume
Take all of your experience, beliefs and accomplishments and convey them other ways. Write articles for example, like on LinkedIn, just like this one. Comment on articles. Pose questions, review events, technologies. Show people who you are, your knowledge, how you think and how you communicate.
When and where you can, from that emerging experience as well as old professors or bosses, get written LinkedIn recommendations as well.
Per the latter, here’s what most people think when especially they interview an entry or lower level staffer – is this person a mistake? Will they say behind my back “Can you believe they hired that person?” Your job is to at each level insure that you don’t get in your own way.
Your job is to convince them why you are truly unique and what you bring to the table in attitude, approach, an ability to learn and again know your place and when to contribute. You are here to make your boss and colleagues a success, not yourself, not the company per se. You make them believe that you are in it for your team – ethically of course – and that is what will likely get you further and make the firm succeed.
Know the firm, its challenges, its news, its initiatives, leaders and big opportunities and products. Prepare questions, both corporate and personal, from products to culture to how they like their job, working there and the firm’s and their own personal successes and challenges.
Special experience truly, uniquely not the norm? Great. Don’t over do it. You need to understand that you are new – they’ve been doing this for years to decades. You just don’t know what you don’t know that you don’t know. Don’t ever forget that. Put your ego in a box.
Lastly – don’t expect people again to take the time to write cute notes even if you don’t move on. Remember the numbers…even if it’s down to a few, if they are hiring a hundred of you, it’s not happening. It’s not personal. Never was.
A Few Interviews? Still Expect Nothing
Per all of the above, as you advance here and there, learn more, get more specific. Still, again, remember the numbers and that they have real jobs. Expect no thank you notes, explanations or anything if you don’t move on. Again, it’s not personal so stop thinking that it is. It’s certainly not going to help you or accomplish anything but maybe sour your demeanor for the next interviews.
Finally – Now Work Hard, Work Long, Do The Dirt
Finally got that job? Negotiated a good deal, your best deal and it’s at a firm whose principles and culture you mesh with? Well, now act like it’s your baby, your life for a good while. Work life balance? Yeah, but not right away. Keeping the job, earning respect, learning, helping, collaborating and accomplishing will earn you that work life balance in the right place.
Lastly and a bit over specifically – volunteer for all if the stuff no one else wants or cares to do. It will open up relationships, build confidence in you and your drive and support and demonstrate hopefully that you deserve more.
I Know I’ve Been Blunt…
…but I also very much hope this helped someone. Have a great career!