College is over, and you’re about to enter a whole new level of experience. After my graduation, I always hear the words, “Welcome to the real world.” I didn’t know what it meant back then. What’s not real about four years in a university? What’s not real about finishing one subject I failed in my freshman year? What’s not real about struggling to complete our thesis? What we do at school is a simulation ― it’s a safe place to learn, most of the time we learn by spoon-feeding, and like a factory, one step leads to another to complete the finished product: YOU.
I’ve written some tips to help you land a job. I didn’t say “your dream job,” let’s face it, we sometimes don’t have a choice just yet. We don’t have the experience to get that six-figure post yet. Ayen dela Torre said in an Instagram post, “Wouldn’t it be nice to not assume we have failed at something just because we don’t seem good at it now?” That’s the power of yet; it allows you to have a growth mindset.
1. Take A Break First
I had my first job at the age of 18. I was juggling school and working at a fast food restaurant at an hourly rate. Oh, man, It was tiring AF. With only one day to rest after graduation, I had to report to work and didn’t have enough time to take a break. It was one of the mistakes I made early in my career. Before you get your first job, it’s essential to have a break. If you have the resources and time to do so, I highly recommend it. Pause for a moment, have a good sleep you didn’t have while submitting your school projects. If you have the money to travel to different places, let the fresh air brush against your face. Enjoy a good book about career building. Find time to write your short-term and long-term goals. Figure out what you want to be, who you want to be.
Overtime is inevitable. There are no semestral breaks. Your leaves will come after your regularization. Everything can be stressful, and you have to be mentally prepared for it. I’m saying all of these because once you land that job, it’s going to be awhile before you can rest.
2. Know Your Strengths
I once read a post from an influencer I am following that her children are getting a tutor to focus on the subjects they performing well. It’s a contrast to what we are used to ― we learned to always work on improving our weak areas. Knowing your true strengths will jumpstart your career as it fuels the desire to be on top of your game and have a competitive edge. How will you identify your true strengths? Do you feel burdened by writing? Don’t apply for a writing position. Do you feel confident in creating quality designs? Go start looking for design jobs. Align yourself with the things that make you feel invincible and not insecure.
3. Utilize Online Resources
The internet has made the world more reachable. Most companies are using digital platforms to find talents who are the perfect fit for the job. Build an online profile in various online hiring websites such as JobStreet, Kalibrr, and even on Facebook. Almost everything is online. However, here’s a caveat: there also scams online. You have to be careful in clicking these job postings. Sharks are waiting for the blood of fresh grads. If a job offer is too good to be true, or in any way asks you to pay for something before being interviewed, get out now.
There are million red flags to check and if you don’t know what to do, seek help from experienced ones. Make use of the research skills you learned at school to good use.
4. What Matters In Your Resumè
One of your dilemmas is probably what to put in your resume. It’s also a trap to put everything in it. It begs the question, what matters in your resumè? When I was interviewing candidates, the first thing I look for is their career summary. Career summary includes relevant experience for the job that you are applying for. If you are a fresh grad, you can use your internship experience, co-curricular activities, and skills that you can leverage. It takes less than a minute before we move on to the next applicant. To make sure your paper makes it to the next round, you have to attract our attention to the primary space.
One of my pet peeves in reading resumès are making it too generic. You have to research the company and job you are applying. Put all the pertinent details such as awards, certifications that are only fitting. It’s not a one size fits all kind of thing. Avoid typo errors; proofread or ask another eye to read it out. Most importantly, never ever lie on your resumè. Don’t ruin it before you even get started.
5. Make A Good Impression
When I was interviewing candidates for our new team members, I pay attention to what they wear. Not to be judgmental but only to gauge how they represent themselves. Perception management is not a subject at school; this is something you will learn along the way. In business, as Harvey Specter said, “People respond on how we dress.” On one of my first inter-department meeting, I learned that we don’t represent ourselves, we represent our bosses. We are their secondary face and voice, they entrusted us of representing their behalf, so it’s our responsibility to express them well.
In your first interview, you are representing your school, family, and everyone who was part of your life, not being overly dramatic here but you will learn that soon enough. It is also important to be punctual before your schedule, doing so will help you have ample time to freshen up, walk around, and observe your future workplace.
7. Be Confident.
When I first started applying for a job, I don’t know what I’m doing. I researched tips on how to ace interviews but still, I know I’m doing something wrong. I didn’t have someone to help me identify the things I need to improve on. However, an HR from Sykes named Princess helped me out. She was the only one out of the many companies I applied for who spared her time to talk about what I should improve. After the telling me the results, she spoke to me in private and shared some tips on how to be more confident in job interviews.
Interviewers can sense if you are nervous, this affects the chances of getting the job. If you are not confident with what you are saying, stop for a moment and take a deep breath. This helps you calm your mind to get you back on track. Listening to questions carefully before answering is a good practice. Not that you are showing interest to the subject, this also gains the respect of the interviewer because you don’t answer questions right away but also let them know that you are thinking carefully before you open your mouth. Practice with a friend or in front of a mirror, research some questions and answer them. It eases the tension you are feeling before going to the hot seat.
Use your sense of humor and make the interviewer laugh. Don’t be a ball of awkwardness. Use your charm. Connect with the interviewer, they are not robots so are you.
Moreover, one of the unspoken rules in interviews is talking negatively about your work experiences. If the question leads to answering emotional aspect of your previous job or activity, make sure to position it more objectively; what value you learned out of it and how you can use it to contribute to the growth of the company. Interviewers are testing your emotional ability to handle out-of-the-book situations.
8. Don’t Oversell or Don’t Sell Yourself Short
I’ve mentioned that you need to be confident but don’t overdo everything. Arrogance and confidence have a thread-like difference. Products need to be marketed, same as you. You need to know your Unique Selling Point, why you are different and how you can be a good fit.
There are also instances where fresh grads don’t see their real value. If you believe your worth is little, you receive little. Seek help from your trusted friends or professors; they know for sure something you don’t know about yourself.
9. Prepare To Be Rejected and/or Fail
You always hear it, it’s okay to be rejected. It’s okay to fail. I got rejected because I had problems with pronunciation. I failed in a lot of interviews and exams than I can count. Truth be told, it hurt me and gave so much anxiety. I asked myself if I have the guts to succeed. It’s okay to feel that way; we are humans, we are a bag of emotions. However, it’s not okay to stay the same way. As David Schwartz wrote, “When you believe I-can-do-it, the how-to-do-it develops.”
What are you going to do? Will you find ways to fix it or will you find excuses? The how-to-do-it develops when you start believing you can do it.
10. If All Else Fails, Create Your Own Your Opportunity
If after all, you didn’t end up finding a job that suits you, why not create one? We are not all cut from the same fabric, some people are happy with their jobs, and some want to be their own bosses. If you have family members who want to be your angel investor, talk to them, and get started with your idea. Find a mentor; it could be an online mentor or a business owner you admire. Reach out. Nothing wrong happens from trying, it’s either you learn or succeed. Every information can be at your fingertips, use it to your advantage.
If you got the job you wanted or started your business prepare to be micromanaged, stressed out, and have inner doubts. There can be no extensions when you failed to submit a project. Upper management can be ruthless with deadlines. There will be little to no support; there are no more training wheels. It’s always a make or break episode.
It’s all part of the process. Growth comes from learning. Treat every experience as a learning opportunity; the world is a big school after all.