What Advice Would You Give…
I’ve been asked to speak at a conference next week for about 100 college juniors and seniors that hold leadership roles in their sorority. They’ve asked me to speak about what they can do to succeed in today’s tough job market besides just getting their degree.
I’ve really been thinking about this a lot. What a big difference I might be able to make in these young ladies’ futures! It’s an awesome responsibility that I’ve agreed to bear.
I think I’ve come up with a few things to focus on…see if you agree with me and please, forward me any other ideas you have.
When I first graduated college (we won’t mention the year!) we were in the middle of bad economic times as well. Florida’s unemployment rate hit 8.2% and over half of the employers didn’t show up to the campus job fair. I know what it’s like. I know it’s been many years since I’ve been “in the job market”, however, I think after all of these years in the real world, I know a little bit about what it takes to be successful.
You’ve got to set yourself apart from the rest of the thousands of college graduates that are looking for a job. I personally would rather hire a B or C student that was very active in extracurricular activities than a straight A bookworm that has no knowledge outside of the classroom. Here’s some things that I personally would like to see on a resume:
~If you worked while a student, was it in your desired field and what skills and responsibilities did you take on? (as opposed to flipping burgers, or if you flipped burgers, how did you do your job better than anyone else and what extra duties did you do?)
~What clubs and associations were you active in and what leadership roles did you hold? Everyone always thinks that President is the best position to hold, but when you’re looking for a job, that just tells me you were popular and had a lot of friends, it doesn’t tell me how capable you are. I’d rather hire the vice president that usually does all of the work, the treasurer that watches the budgets, the membership chair that’s a great recruiter, or the secretary responsible for keeping it all straight. (Although if I’m hiring a sales person, I’m probably going to look at the president, they sure can talk their way into things!)
~Did you make the most of your elective credit choices? I’ve always thought that the “underwater basket weaving” type classes are a complete waste of your time and money, but if you are well rounded by picking up things like public speaking, a foreign language, or even a sport (I took Volleyball I & II) you will make a more balanced employee.
~What specific skills did you need or gain in the positions you held? And how will those help my company? For example, I didn’t know how great it would be on my resume at the time, but my senior year I was editor of the Panhellenic Recruitment Magazine. The entire magazine was a giant sales pitch for joining the Greek system, and I was responsible for: recruiting and selecting my “staff”, coordinating photo shoots, selling advertisements to help with the budget, negotiating with printers, and working with the design staff on the layout. How’s that for “real-world” training?
~What were you active in OFF campus? Church, Charities, Chamber of Commerce? (wow, that’s a bunch of C’s!) That shows that little bit of extra “drive” that I want from my employees.
The next thing I’m going to suggest is that you do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door. And once it’s in there, make yourself invaluable to the company. I first took a part-time job at a store at the mall and showed them what I could do and then quickly moved up. No, it was not my dream job by far, but hey, I had to pay the bills!
How can you make yourself invaluable once you’re in there? Well, keep this in mind: If money’s tight and I need to lay someone off, will it be the person that COSTS me money or MAKES me money? Exactly! So do whatever you can to MAKE your company more money. That means help bring in new clients, even if that’s not your job description!
Any employee at any level in any company can always do a part in increasing revenue, whether it’s “selling” your product at every opportunity with your friends or researching some potential new clients for your boss. The other way to help put a dollar figure on your value to the company is to keep your eyes out on a way to cut costs for the company. One place I worked had an employee make a small suggested change and she saved the company over $250,000 per year on overnight mail. She has made herself valuable to the company.
Another way to make yourself invaluable is to learn all of the systems and be able to perform multiple jobs within the company, it’s called Cross-Training. If you are able to cover different positions and run different programs, you will be less likely to be laid off.
The third thing I want to suggest is that you learn whatever you can about selling skills and communication skills. These are probably the two most critical things that you can do in ANY field you want to go into. As you become a better communicator you will quickly see how it will get you where you want to be, not only in your career, but in your personal life as well. (by the way, one of my favorite books on this subject is “Instant Rapport” by Michael Brooks. It’s about $10 at the bookstore and at Amazon.com)
I know many of you will argue that you’re not going into “sales” so you don’t need selling skills, but you will quickly discover that EVERYTHING in life is sales… dating and interviewing you are selling yourself, want to take the lead on a new project at work? Better sell your boss on the fact that you can handle the responsibility! Want your husband or kids to do the dishes? Yep, that’s selling too… see what I’m getting at? Even if you’re not IN sales, you’re IN sales.
And of course, I’m going to talk about the joys of entrepreneurship (can’t help it, that’s who I am!)
I NEED YOUR HELP! I would like to give the ladies a handout with some of my key points, and I want to share some of your golden tips with them as well. Please send me a 1 or 2 sentence piece of advice that you would give to someone graduating in the next year and going out in the real world. I will put all of our golden tidbits on a handout for them to keep as inspiration. Email them to Andy@AndyTolbert.com and in the subject line put “college tips” or post them as a comment, and also if you don’t want your name shared on the handout, just tell me to make it anonymous, if you don’t specify, I will share your name, if that’s ok with you!
Thanks for reading today, it’s kind of a long one, but I’m really excited about it!
p.s. If you read all the way down to here...you might have even picked up some tips for YOUR business!
p.p.s. If you'd like to subscribe to my weekly e-newsletter filled with all kinds of tips, ideas, and a fresh/positive outlook on the market, please visit www.AndyTolbert.com and you can also download my free paper on the 6 Critical Questions Every Real Estate Professional Needs to Ask About Foreclosures.