With college graduation right around the corner, it’s important for graduates to prepare for success in the real world. Just a few small steps can make all the difference in the world with what opportunies come your way and what jobs you land.
Today I welcome back my friend Lucy Wyndham to talk to offer some tips to college grads who are preparing to enter the workforce. Take it away Lucy!
Congrats, you’re finally getting that award you’ve worked so hard on, and you’re not alone. This year, colleges and universities are expected to award nearly two million bachelor degrees, 790,000 master’s degrees, and 183,000 Ph.D. degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That means when it comes to joining the workforce, you’ve got a lot of company, and competition. To succeed and get noticed, you’ve got to work hard and keep our five tips in mind.
Be Willing to Listen
It might not be easy to take advice from the older crowd, but it will pay off to listen and consider what they’re saying when you’re entering the workforce. They’ve already been down the road you’ve just started on, and their experiences and regrets can be worth their weight in gold. Plus, by being willing to listen you are successfully networking and building potentially invaluable contacts.
Always Dress for Success
Always arrive for a job interview looking your best. Wear a nice suit, dress or sports jacket and slacks with a tie. Shine your shoes, and make sure you’re well groomed. Don’t chew gum, turn your phone to silent, and give a firm handshake with plenty of eye contact. Research the company so you can ask intelligent questions. It is true that you only have one chance to make a good impression, and the first impression people get of you is usually what sticks. Make it a good one.
Don’t Burn Your Bridges
Treat everyone who crosses your path with respect, from the janitor to the CEO. Professionalism is a must at all times. If you decide to leave a job, give plenty of notice, and write a letter of explanation for your boss. Don’t forget to mention how much you’ve enjoyed working there. You’ll be glad you did when you find yourself needing a good reference.
Have Answers to the Tough Questions
Inevitably, you’re going to be asked why you left a previous job, why you have a gap in your job history, or what you feel your biggest weakness is. These questions can be tough, but having answers prepared will make it a lot easier. Always put a positive spin on things. Say you left because you didn’t feel challenged and are looking for a more hands-on position. Explain any gaps by talking about what you did during that time. Were you volunteering? Traveling? Caring for a sick relative? All are fine; they reassure employers that you weren’t just sitting around playing video games.
If you were fired or that job gap is because you were ill or unable to find work, be honest (employers will find out if you lie!), but don’t bash your previous employer or feel you have to give your medical history, which is actually illegal for them to ask for. Take responsibility and show that you’ve learned from the experience.
Clean Up Your Online Presence
We cannot stress how important this is. If your email address is something like “email@example.com“, change it to something professional before you start sending resumes out. Make sure your social media accounts are scrubbed of anything that could put you in a bad light – spring break party photos, profanity, suspect memes and images, political vitriol. Potential employers can and will check you out.
You’re entering an exciting new phase of your life. Entering the workforce can be overwhelming and intimidating. but these tips can make it less so. Always act professionally, do your research, keep your nose clean on social media and be willing to listen to advice, while being kind to everyone who crosses your path on the way up, in case you meet them again on your way down. These things will help you stand out from the crowd and succeed.