I realize that the title of this post implies an article specifically about business marketing success—and, it is—but I’ve discovered that these tips can actually be applied to almost any career path. So, for all you soon-to-be and recent graduates, pay attention.
Finding a job after college can be a daunting prospect—especially after hearing for the past four years about the economy’s current state of decline. However, finding a successful job after graduation is not as allusive as the stats make it out to be. Here are a few trade secrets I’ve gleaned from business friends as the keys to their success.
When you hear success stories and see others rise to the top of the field, it can seem like magic. However, success right out of school is actually the product of years of preparation and a lot of hard work.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the competition out there is stiff. If you aren’t on your best game, you shouldn’t expect to be rewarded. The world pays you for the value you can offer. Thus, the best thing you can do to ensure success right off the bat is to start early. Learn as much as you can.
Though most people will tell you that college is there to prepare you for a job, its primary function is to teach you how to think. That is why it really doesn’t matter what your major is. Yes, it’s true that some majors have better job rates. And certainly for technical careers you would be wise to pursue a technical major. But for all the other jobs out there, employers are looking for candidates who can think and work hard. Any four year degree should be able to tell them that. Thus, what is really important is how you spend those four years.
Did you do any internships? Did you study outside of your assigned homework and curriculum? Did you start your own company out of your dorm room?
Those who take their futures into their hands and proactively seek opportunities to learn and grow in their prospective field will have a much higher chance of both landing a job out of school and finding success there.
In a presentation to recent college graduates, LinkedIn founder and entrepreneur, Reid Hoffman, explained that when we look for career opportunities we are really looking for people. This is because people are inextricably connected to these opportunities.
We’ve all heard the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And in many ways this rings true. Even the most qualified candidates are going to remain in low or underpaid jobs if they don’t nurture their professional network and seek opportunities to connect with people. Therefore, in conjunction with my previous advice, start early to develop your professional network and begin meeting people. You never know who the “right” person is going to be for you. So don’t limit yourself.
Talk to people whether you have a job or not. If you don’t have job, you might meet someone who can launch your career. If you do have a job already, instead of sitting on your laurels, use networking as a chance to boost your career and open doors to your ambitions. Just as no man is an island, neither does his success come autonomously. People are the key to your success, as much as you.
Play to Your Strengths
Finally, play to your strengths. Whatever your major was in college—from marketing to art history—you have talents, skills, and strengths to offer. Analyze yourself and identify what value you can bring to a prospective employer or company. You may be surprised how much you really have learned.
For example, if you are a philosophy major applying for a marketing job, initially the two fields may seem disconnected. But upon further inspection, you realize that philosophy taught you important abstract thinking skills and an ability to relate and understand differing viewpoints. Once you start making connections, you will see that you have more to offer than originally expected at face value.
Use those connections to build your resume and present a strong case for yourself. If you have taken the previous advice and started learning everything you can early, and building your professional network, you will be prepared to put your best foot forward when opportunity comes a knockin’.