Introverts are naturally shy, preferring to keep to themselves or a select group of people rather than being surrounded by a larger group that they may not know as well. Being placed in an environment in which they are forced to look beyond their discomfort in order to get their job done can be a challenge that some may not want to face. Unfortunately, in the professional world it doesn?t matter if you are an introvert; you still have to complete learnerships if you want to stand any chance of getting a job after graduating university.
As an introvert, you may be wary about starting a new learnership ? trust us, we understand: a new job, a new location, a new schedule, and new people to interact with and report to. However, it doesn?t have to be intimidating or uncomfortable! Here are some ways you can thrive in your new learnership as an introvert:
1. Apply to companies with a solid internship program ? think structure
Companies with structured internship programs will feel less stressful to the introvert, as compared to companies that aren?t used to hiring students for a small chunk of time. This is because you won?t have to worry about whether or not you will get what you need out of the experience because they are prepared for you. While all experience is good experience, learnerships with less structure can be a little hard on the mind. You don?t want to have to chase your superior for work, or have to constantly ask for guidance on tasks that are ill-explained. With a structured learnership, you will get the professional development you need without the worry of stepping outside of your comfort zone to get it when it isn?t given to you.
However, this is not to say that you shouldn?t apply for other opportunities as well because you shouldn?t put all your eggs in one basket.
2. Say hello to someone new every day, especially if you are working at a large company
There is no denying that the first few days of working a new job can be daunting, particularly when you are the newbie that doesn?t know anyone, and everyone else seems to be buddy-buddy. Add in the fact that you are introverted and you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation.
Rather than either a) feeling like you have to introduce yourself to everyone in the room (and thus getting extremely overwhelmed), or b) avoiding introductions with anyone, make a point to say hello to at least one new person a day. You may feel hesitant when it comes to introducing yourself as the newest learner, but it comes with the job. Start with your peers -? are there any other students completing a learnership at the same time as you? This may be the easiest way to make a friend or acquaintance in the beginning, as they will be in the same position as you. Suggest getting coffee or taking your lunch break together so you can learn a bit about each other and what you are each hoping to get out of the experience. Moving forward, you may be able to work together.
Next, consider introducing yourself to someone who works full-time within your department. Ask them about themselves and how they got to where they are in their career, what they studied in school and what other jobs they held before landing where they are. Not only will you be acquainting yourself with the people within your company, but you will be getting valuable tips and lessons from someone who has been in your shoes before.
Before you know it, you will have made introductions with most of the people around you, which will help lift the burden of being the new guy. Making these connections will ultimately help you feel more comfortable throughout your learnership experience, and you will slowly realize that you are feeling less and less like an introvert, and more and more like part of the team.
3. Ask questions and get comfortable with being uncomfortable
The whole point of a learnership is to learn, right? You?re not going to know very much when you start, and it may take some time for you to come to grips with the dynamics of your new working environment. With that, you?ve got to accept the fact that you will be among the most underexperienced in the room. Not knowing what?s going on and the odds of doing things wrong are great? which can be super uncomfortable and intimidating to the introvert. But, guess what? It?s expected!
To avoid getting stuck in the learning curve for too long, step outside of your comfort zone and ask questions. If you are confused or if you missed a step or instruction, simply ask for clarification. Your superiors would rather help you through a task than find that you did it wrong because you were too afraid to ask. Otherwise, they?ll wonder why you even bothered applying. You should also be diligent about taking notes which can truly help you step beyond the curve. Notes allow you to refer back when you forget what was said; they may even negate the need to ask a question.
4. Don?t dive in too deep, too fast ? take your time
With all of these suggestions, it?s also important to remain true to yourself and get comfortable on your own time. Many introverts perform their best when they are able to take the time they need to get a job done, rather than struggling to meet someone else?s deadline. However, deadlines are a real thing in the professional world, so talk to your superior about the way you work and their expectations so you can find a happy medium.
When you are given a task, take a true assessment of its requirements so you can figure just how long it will realistically take you to complete it, based on the way you work. Who else needs to be involved in the job for it to be completed? In what order do the tasks need to be done? Once you have a grip on these points, create a task list and a schedule so you can execute the job to the best of your abilities.
Learnerships can be scary for the introvert? but they don?t have to be! Follow these steps and you will create a much more comfortable experience.
You’re in the middle of a busy semester but you know that you need to get on top of your learnership applications if you’re going to have a job over break. How in the world are you supposed to juggle your school work AND write up killer applications when you’re this swamped? Regardless of the time of year, you should be prepping for your upcoming applications, because there are always opportunities around the corner and university doesn’t last forever!
Here are 5 ways you can get ahead on your learnership and job applications, even when you are busy with school.
Meet With Your Career Counselor
Your University Career Center is there for the sole purpose of helping students get jobs! Career counselors understand how challenging it can be to apply for jobs while working through a semester and they are there to help you. Visiting your counselor can present you with tips and opportunities that you may have never known existed! Companies often send university career centers lists of job openings before posting them on job sites to give priority to students. Your counselor can not only help you clean up your resume and cover letters, but can also speed up the job search process by showing you what is available and where. The job hunt is a long and grueling one, so you can totally get ahead of your applications by taking the help while it’s available!
Adjust Your Resume Throughout The Semester
During the semester, you will inevitably gain experience and acquire new skills as you take different level classes, learn new programs and maybe even volunteer or work a part-time job. These are line items for your resume! If there are classes that are relevant to the jobs you are applying for, add them. If you learned how to use a new program or picked up a skill that is tailored to your field, add it. If you volunteered or worked any type of job while going to school, add it. As a student, every bit matters because you are currently without much experience, and recruiters want to see that you are not only getting the education that you need, but kept busy with other life experiences. Later in life, as you work multiple jobs, you will remove bits like which courses you took and specific skills that are no longer relevant to the jobs you are applying to. But right now, you can use it all!
Clean Up Your Social Profiles
We know, social media is oh so tempting, but, you may remember us telling you how it can hurt you! If your online presence on networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are not presentable, you may be hindering your chances of getting hired. These days, more companies than not do go out of their way to screen their applicants online. It’s so incredibly easy to look someone up on the internet and get a peek into their everyday lives; the good, the bad and the ugly. The ugly is what we are worried about.
Employers care about how their employees present themselves to others because when hired, you are a representative of the company. Your behavior could be misconstrued as a direct reflection of the company’s ethics to potential customers and clients. With that, they want to be sure that you are going to put your best foot (and face) forward when it comes to what you post on the internet. So, get ahead of your applications by cleaning up your profiles and only publishing photos and posts that you wouldn?t mind a potential employer seeing. Don’t just hide content for your eyes only… delete!
You should also consider limiting your friends’ ability to post content without your permission. A friend could easily tag you in an unflattering photo that you would definitely not like your future boss to see. So, head to those privacy settings to protect your professional image!
Go To Career Fairs
They’re offered for a reason! Career fairs are your opportunity to get a firsthand look at what companies are currently looking to hire, and to meet face-to-face with company representatives. Five minutes with a company rep (and personally handing over your resume to said rep) is far greater than submitting your application online and hoping that the right person will see it. It’s the chance to gain an advocate, to put your face to the name, and to verbally express your interest in the company. Most people don’t even get the chance to speak to someone, so take it while you can!
Put on your best professional outfit, print off a handful of resumes, grab some business cards (if you have them ? not a bad idea!) and find out which companies will be present. Make a hitlist of those you are interested in and get there early so you are among the first to meet them!
Duh! We will beat the importance of this tip into your head so long as you keep listening! This goes hand-in-hand with attending career fairs. Your network is, without a doubt, the most important weapon in your arsenal. When it comes to getting learnerships and jobs post university, your network means far more than what you know. A bit confusing, we know, but it’s a hard truth. The earlier you develop your professional network, the more luck you will have when you are ready to apply for jobs.
Networking is an ongoing task because you never know who you will bump into and when. Whether there is a guest speaker in your lecture or you happen to bump into an alumni member that has been seriously successful in your field of choice… these are contacts you’re not going to want to lose! It’s never too early to start building, so network away!
Follow these tips to get ahead of your applications, even when your semester and workload get busy!
You’ve landed a job interview… congrats! That’s a big step, as getting your foot in the door can be a real challenge. But, the hard part is not over yet. The hardest part of this process if proving that human resources made the right decision when they chose you as one of the select few to be taken to this round. While we’d love to tell you that the interview process is smooth sailing, we can’t… because it isn’t. We want you to get that job! We’ve given you tips on what to do during your interview, so now it’s time to talk about what NOT to do.
Here are 9 interview mistakes that could be the detriment to your chances of getting hired.
- Arriving Late.There is nothing about showing up late that looks good to anyone in any situation, so why show up to your interview later than you were asked? Remember, this meeting is meant to help the company decide whether or not you would be a good fit for the position and the company. Don’t just be on time, be early. Take potential traffic, directions and parking issues into account before leaving, and factor that into your overall commute time. It is recommended that you arrive 10 minutes prior to the interview time. This not only leaves room for you to review your notes and take a restroom break, but it also shows that you are punctual, excited for the opportunity and reliable. All very important characteristics of a potential hire.
- Showing Up Unprepared.We?ve preached the importance of being prepared for interviews on countless occasions, and for good reason. Your interview preparedness is a direct indication of your work ethic, in your interviewer’s eyes. Coming in for your scheduled interview without some kind of strategy may make them think that you would approach the job in the same manner. Treat your interview like an exam. If you don’t prepare for it, chances are you will perform poorly. Do your research on the company and the position to get an idea of how you would be a good fit. Use this information when you’re answering and asking questions, to show that you didn’t dive into the interview blind. Show up unprepared and you can kiss your chances of getting hired goodbye.
- Underdressing.Do not, under any circumstances, show up to your interview looking like you just rolled out of bed, or don’t care about your appearance. Unfortunately, you will be judged by how you look, so put together a professional outfit and make a good impression.
- Interrupting Your Interviewer.This falls in the same hand as challenging your interviewer, which we will explain in part 2. We don’t want your potential peer or superior to be put off by you. It can be hard to keep your mouth shut when you are enthusiastic or excited. However, this is not the place to talk over or interrupt the other half of this conversation. Don’t try to finish your interviewer’s sentences, don’t step on their words, and don’t start responding until they’ve finished their thoughts.
- Acting Disinterested.This is the easiest way to get a big fat “no”! Don’t be mistaken ? you are one of many people up for the position, and your interviewer isn’t going to waste too much time on someone that doesn?t show interest in what they’ve got to offer. If you aren’t interested now, what’s going to make them think that you’ll be interested in the position when hired? You may be interviewing for something that you don’t actually want because your options are limited. Or, maybe you are interviewing to get the experience but don’t plan to take the position if offered. It can be challenging to muster enthusiasm for something you don’t actually want; but, do it anyway. People talk!
- Badmouthing Former Employers.Who in the world would want to hire someone that talks s*** about the employers and companies that came before them? If you don’t have great things to say about your previous boss or job, don’t say anything or do your best to say it nicely. No one goes through life without experiencing a job or superior they didn’t like, but telling a potential employer how much you couldn’t stand them is only going to hurt your chances. They’ll wonder if they should expect the same treatment in the future.
- Failing To Ask Questions. You will inevitably be asked if you have any questions. This may seem like a good time to say, “nope, I’m all set! Thanks for meeting with me!”, but that would be a bad look. Ask questions based on your research of the company and position to reestablish your interest in the job. Better yet, ask questions throughout the interview to make it feel like a genuine, engaged conversation.
- Not Asking WhatToExpect Next. Don’t assume that after your interview, your interviewer will be meeting with the rest of the team to discuss your hire. Don’t assume that you will be hearing from them by the end of the week with an offer. Chances are the company is interviewing quite a few other people for the position. Each company follows different processes when it comes to hiring, and it isn’t uncommon to go weeks before hearing anything, whether good or bad. At the end of your interview, inquire about the next steps if the information hasn’t already been offered. Not only may you get insight that will ease your mind during the wait, but it will reinforce your interest.
- Not Following Up.Within 24-48 hours of being interviewed, send a thank you note to everyone that you met with. Remember, they took time out of their busy work day to meet with you, so they deserve some recognition! Not only will it leave a good impression but it will keep you front of mind, as they review all of the candidates.
Don’t jeopardize your chances of getting hired by making these simple mistakes! Stay tuned for Part 2!
Sometimes lengthy articles are a pain in the butt to get through when all you want is some quick advice. There?s a lot that goes into finding a job and ultimately creating a successful career: writing your resume and cover letter, finding opportunities, applying, interviewing and landing the job. So, we?ve decided to compile a list of 32 quick and dirty career facts and tips to help you find your way using three sentences or less:
RESUME & COVER LETTER
- Memorize your resume. Your interviewers will have it on-hand and will reference it. P.S., you should also have a copy with you.
- Customize your resume to the job you are applying for using keywords from the job-description where applicable.
- Less is more; don?t push the margin and text size limits. Be selective in what you choose to include and how you phrase it.
- Don?t include your hobbies, because they are just that: hobbies. Only share career- and experience-specific information that will show you are qualified for the job.
- Don?t point out how you may be underqualified for the job as you will only be helping them decide not to hire you.
- If you are lacking in the work experience department, include extra-curricular activities such as community service, clubs and sports that you have participated in.
- Don?t restate your resume line items in your cover letter, thus rendering it pointless. Explain how you are qualified and why you are interested in the position.
- The more jobs you hold, the more you can remove irrelevant jobs (like waitress and paper boy) from your resume.
FINDING A JOB
- Use your network to inquire about job opportunities. This includes your family members and their peers, friends, professors, career counselors and anyone you have worked with or for in the past.
- Big job search boards aren?t as useful as they used to be. Use your contacts, LinkedIn and career counselor.
- Don?t bank on just one application. Apply to multiple jobs, even if you are convinced you?ve got one in the bag. There are hundreds of other competing for the same positions.
- Take every interview you are offered, even if you don?t want the job that badly. All interviewing experience is good experience, and will help you down the line.
- Don?t neglect to apply for a job just because there are a few ?requirements? that you don?t qualify for, or you?ll never get a job that challenges you to learn more.
- Understand and accept the fact that you will likely not hear back from at least half of the companies you apply to.
- First impression means everything; unfortunately, hiring managers will judge a book by its cover. Present your best self.
- Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Wear a professional outfit ? even if the company is notoriously casual. They?ll tell you if it?s OK to dress down.
- Being likable is a surefire way to get brownie points. Companies want to hire people that they can envision themselves working alongside, not people that are rude, disrespectful, less than personable, or simply dull.
- Take notes; it looks good and it will help you keep track of important talking points and company objectives.
- Ask questions to demonstrate your interest and research in the company and the position. It helps make it more of a conversation than an interview, and thus, less scary.
- Make eye contact to reinforce your desire for the job and your respect for the person interviewing you. Avoiding eye contact may get you rejected.
- Ask your interviewee about themselves and how they got to where they are within the company. People like to talk about themselves, plain and simple. It makes a nice impression.
- Keep the bubbler gossip to a minimum. You will make friends, but word travels fast and you don?t want to be the subject or source of rumors.
- Network like you?ve never networked before. You never know who will be the person that helps you land your next big opportunity.
- You need both the hard and soft skills to succeed in any industry. Learn to communicate and be personable, whether or not you work on a team.
- Don?t keep your social media profiles open in another tab. Save personal stuff for your lunch break or, even better, for when you get home.
- Stick up for yourself If you feel that your tasks have fallen outside the scope of your position. Your boss may be your superior but you are allowed to raise questions.
- If you have a lot on your plate, consider going to work earlier or staying later. Not only will it ease the burden but it will prove that you are dedicated to your work and not stuck on the ?9 to 5? mindset.
- Always ask how you can help, if you have the time. Managers often forget that they can pass off work during a learnership, and will appreciate if you can take a load off their shoulders.
- Do what you can to make your boss look good. It won?t go unappreciated when it?s time to talk about more money or a promotion.
- If you are confused, don?t shy away from asking for clarification. Your superiors would rather explain something to you again than get poor (or wrong) work.
- Stay close to those working in administrative roles (receptionists, assistants, interns, etc.), because they often have insight that no one else does! They also may be amazing contacts in the future.
- Think outside of the box, rather than playing it safe all the time. You will move ahead in your career if you can take a step away from your job description and offer new, exciting and effective ideas.
Social media is becoming increasingly prevalent in the average individual?s life. Think about how often you check your phone throughout the day. It?s become mechanical, in a way. We check so much that we don?t even realize just how much time we spend with our mobile device in hand and our thumbs scrolling lazily through our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds. If you actually tracked just how much time you are on these platforms, I think you?d be surprised with your total time spent each day.
Because we are so attached to our social media accounts, and because we have become so overly transparent by sharing so many aspects of our lives, hiring manager now look to these accounts to get insight into the people they are interviewing. It?s part of a screening process these days, even though it may not feel very fair, and it will continue to be used so long as we continue to use these platforms.
Professionals are now refining their profiles to hide content that they wouldn?t want a hiring manager to see. Some are even changing their profile name to display just first and middle, rather than first and last names, in a last-ditch effort to make it difficult for anyone to locate their profile. However, it?s not that simple, given that all social media accounts are connected to email addresses. With that, we thought we would compile a list of social media mistakes that could hurt your career:
1. Complaining about your boss or co-workers, current or former
What hiring manager would want to recruit someone that bad mouths the people that they work for? If you have the audacity to make a complaint about someone you work for or with now, who?s to stay you wouldn?t do it again in the future? Talking about your boss or peers online is a surefire way to NOT get hired. It?s totally unprofessional, and totally not going to land you a job. It could even be grounds for termination. No job is perfect; everyone has something not-so-wonderful to say about their superiors. You just have to learn to deal with it. It?s part of life ? a part that should not be shared with your social following!
2. Posting inappropriate photos or content
This is inclusive of photos that have already been uploaded to your social accounts. Hiring managers view your photos to get an idea of the type of person you are. A picture speaks a thousand words! While you would prefer to not be judged by a photo, it happens. So, all those selfies from university of you taking shots, dancing on top of bars in a super mini skirt, and possibly engaging in other incriminating activities? Those gotta go.
You also should steer clear of sharing other people?s inappropriate or extreme content. These days, the internet is loaded with all sort of tasteless, rude and gross videos and stories. It?s one thing to watch and read this content, but it?s an entirely different thing to hit that share button.
3. Posting on the job
Many think that the most important thing to avoid is the type of content that they share on their social accounts, and don?t think about when they are posting. If you are posting at 10AM on a Tuesday when you are supposed to be getting a report completed by noon, that?s a really bad look. Posting anything while you are on work hours should be off limits, but if you are going to be so bold, only do it on your lunch break. Both current and future employers will take notice of your timestamps.
4. Letting friends post inappropriate photos or comments on your timeline
?Hey Tina, remember that time you got so wasted from the Beer Olympics that you went streaking through the campus and woke up in your own vomit at that creepy Frat house? Those days were nuts! I miss good ole ?Twisted Tina?!? Do you really think comments like that are going to be received well by any professional person, let alone a potential employer? We don?t want to cast judgment on what crowd you choose to run in, but there is such a thing as having good, aware friends, and not-so-good, oblivious friends. You know who we are talking about: the friend that just loves to post old throwback photos of your crazy university days, or reminisce about all the stuff you got into when you first turned 21 that you probably wouldn?t dare doing now.
Be mindful of your sharing settings; you may decide that post-university is the time to block others from posting anything on your timeline. You don?t want to give others the opportunity to make you look bad. It isn?t just about filtering yourself!
5. Complaining about the people you serve
This falls in the same realm as complaining about your boss or a co-worker. When you work for a company, you are the company, and it?s your responsibility to help it maintain a positive face. Your behaviors will reflect on who you work for. So, don?t criticize your customers online, even if they mistreat you. You won?t get anything out of it and the repercussions will not be worth it! If you must talk about it, call up your friend and share your story to get it off your chest.
6. Using poor spelling or grammar
Despite the fact that social media is more casual than professional, you should always present your best self. This may seem like a small no-no, but it?s really important. Using excessive slang, having a bunch of typos, and misusing the language in general can come off wrong. It may raise questions about your qualifications and of how meticulous and caring you may be about your work. You?re educated ? take some time to edit your posts for errors before you hit share.
Now go clean up those profiles! This is relevant to anyone searching for work, whether it be a learnership or a full-time job.
So, you know you need to work at least one learnership before diving into the deep end post-graduation, but have you ever thought about fulfilling one abroad? Many university students struggle to find a proper learnership, given how competitive it can be to get hired. They often get discouraged when they don?t get called in for a second interview, or even an invite for a first go-around. With options being limited, and with hundreds of peers vying for the same opportunities, you should broaden your search to learnerships overseas.
Completing a learnership can help set you up for a successful future. They are resume boosters, they can teach you far more than you can learn in a classroom, and they can often be the reason you get your first job out of university (sometimes at the same place!). There are so many benefits. So, imagine how much more impressive it would be to take your experience abroad! Here are 8 reasons why you should be buying a plane ticket:
- The challenge. There is truly something to be said for being placed outside of your comfort zone. The purpose of a learnership is to do just that ? LEARN ? but it should also be a life-altering experience. Not every experience is created equal, and you can be certain that a learnership completed at home will hardly compare to what you can get out of global work. You?d be living (temporarily) in a foreign country and you?d be getting exposure to a different culture while gaining the necessary experience in the workplace. Being able to engage with people that you wouldn?t have otherwise met and being forced to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar environment will humble you, and will open your eyes to unique opportunities in the future.
- The travel. Chances are you won?t be working nights and weekends, so you?ll be able to explore! On weekdays, check out the local hot spots. Ask your co-workers and neighbors the best places to get a coffee or see a concert; truly live like a local! On the weekends? you?ve come this far, why not find out what else there is to see? The beauty of doing a learnership abroad is that it will bring you closer to even more locations of interest. Working in Spain? Why not hop on a train and see a bordering town in France for two nights? Seeing new places will be easier and frankly, much cheaper.
- The language. If you choose to learn in a country that speaks a language that is foreign to you, you will boost your language proficiency ? whether you have studied it or it is completely new! Just like studying abroad, working in a foreign country forces you to pick up common words and phrases so that you can live. You may have to learn certain vocabulary to communicate with co-workers or customers, or there may be technical words related to the industry that you need to understand. Any amount of exposure will enable you to learn. If your peers also speak your language, encourage them to speak their own so that you can practice!
- The intercultural communication. Many major companies coalesce with businesses overseas, and many even have branches globally. Being exposed to a different culture will force you to adapt in many ways that you?ll end up learning so much about yourself personally and how to communicate professionally. Having experience in a multicultural environment is extremely attractive to employers because you?ve been exposed to global business, which could be very beneficial for any growing company.
- The academic credit. Some universities require that you learn abroad, and will allow you to apply the job as academic credit. An amazing experience that doubles as fulfilling graduation requirements? Why not!?
- The independence. Sure, you got a whiff of independence when you left for university, but you may have played it safe by staying close to home or bunking with an old friend from high school. There is a stark difference between leaving for schooling, and spending a summer in a foreign country to gain work experience. In school, you have roommates, you have access to mentors and counselors when you need help adapting, you have dining commons for all your meals, and you have various clubs and activities. This is not to say that you won?t have access to anything while working abroad, but you will have to create something on your own, rather than having it all handed to you like you do in school. THAT is independence.
- The global network. You know how we feel about networking! With any type of learnership, you should network so that you have contacts to reach out to when you need a favor, a referral or advice. Imagine having an international network, that reaches far beyond that of the people applying to the same jobs as you! You may one day say to yourself, ?I loved my learnership in London enough to move there. Who do I know that can put out some feelers to see what types of job opportunities are available?? Your international network, that?s who.
- The major resume boost. Outside of what learning abroad can do for you personally, there are obvious professional benefits. It will set you apart from the rest in a huge way. Unfortunately, not many students take the big leap ? whether out of fear, money or purely not realizing what it could do for them. Because of that, a hiring manager will definitely take notice of your resume if they see that you were serious enough about your education and career that you took a job outside of your country. It shows initiative, and they will surely be curious to know what you got out of the experience that was different from, perhaps, the learnership you completed at home.
When you are ready to start looking for learnership opportunities, think bigger than home!
So, you just graduated from university ? or graduation is right around the corner ? and you are preparing yourself for your grand entrance into professional life. You?ve done your due diligence by working learnerships, involving yourself in extracurriculars, and getting good grades over the course of your undergraduate career, and you?ve either got a job lined up or are still on the hunt.
Entering the workforce is not as easy as many think. You may be under the impression that it?ll be as simple as starting a new job, just like you did when you landed your first gig at the ice cream shop, or when you secured a learnership during that summer between your sophomore and junior years. However, there is a whole lot more to post-university work than everything that came before it. This is where all impressions matter, where your work ethic will be learned and communicated to future employers, and where your professional life truly begins.
Here are 10 things every college grad should know before entering the workforce:
1. Not everyone will have your best interest at heart
While you will encounter people who truly want to teach you and see you grow within the company, not all your coworkers will be ?givers.? There will be people who don?t ever seem to give you the time of day, who misuse your time because you?re ?the new one,? who are unwilling to take you under their wing, and who look at you as their competition. This is especially so at larger companies where multiple people seek the same growth track. Don?t take it to heart? run with it.
2. But those who do will want to help. Take it
?Those who are ?givers? do truly want to help. You will encounter many mentors in your life, and as you excel and grow in your industry, you will reflect back on who helped you get to where you are. Don?t mistake suggestions and constructive criticism as rude, ?I know better than you? comments. If people try to help you, take it and appreciate it. At this phase in your career, you?ve got a lot to learn.
3. Age doesn?t matter ? learn from all your peers
?Your 23-year-old co-worker wouldn?t be in her position if the CEO and company hiring manager didn?t think she was qualified for the job. Forget about age and learn from every member of your team, not just the ones that are much older and presumably ?better? at their jobs. Listen, observe, and figure out what each person brings to the table and how you can learn from them and work together to get the job done.
4. Your friends? salaries don?t matter
?Comparing yourself to others is a quick and surefire way to lose focus and fall behind. Entry-level salaries can fluctuate in a major way across industries and there is no changing that. You may be making half of what your former roomies are making, but that?s because you took different paths. You?re working this job because it?s the field that you studied to be in. Worry about your bank account, and your bank account only.
5. Empathy goes a long way
?We are all human. We all are confronted with personal issues from time to time, and when you work 9 to 5, five days a week, you?re bound to find yourself dealing with said issues while on the job. It can be difficult to separate work from personal sometimes. Knowing that, give your coworkers the benefit of the doubt and a bit of empathy when they?re seeming ?off.?
6. Water bubbler gossip looks bad
Gossip of any kind isn?t a good look but gossip in the workplace is a major no-no. You will naturally want to talk about what is going on at work with those you get close to, especially when you are mutually unhappy about something or someone, but keep it to a filtered minimum. Word travels fast, so don?t assume that the person you are gossiping with isn?t going to go to the next person and talk about whatever it was you just told him or her. Just because others are doing it doesn?t mean you need to participate.
7. Networking will go a long way
For all you know, the person sitting three desks over from you could be the person that helps get you a job at your dream company in ten years. Make connections right away. Retain them. Keep in contact. Use them when you need to. Your network is your most valuable professional asset.
8. Failing isn?t the end of the world
If you aren?t failing then you probably aren?t being innovative. If you don?t fail, you don?t learn. Advancing your career involves a huge series of trial and error. It?s impossible to get everything done right the first time around. Trust me, you won?t be the only person in the office to do something incorrectly.
9. Entitlement won?t get you far
You went to an Ivy League school and graduated with honors. Your family spent a lot of money on your education. Congratulations. But acting like you are entitled to a certain salary, position or treatment will not go over well with your superiors and peers. Your growth starts on the day that you first sit at your new desk. You will earn what you deserve by putting in the time and work. You are not entitled to anything.
10. You don?t need to have it all figured out
Chances are your first job out of university will not be a long-lasting one. Young workers often take the first relevant job that they can out of fear that they will be unemployed post-graduation. You may not be 100% sure about what you want to do for work, or where you will be on your career-track in two years, let alone five, ten or twenty. This is OK. What matters is that you take what you do have by the reins, learn from it, get valuable experience and figure out whatever ?it? is as you go.
Interviews are challenging. How do you convince someone to hire you for a job? That you?re the best candidate they?ve got? How do you maintain your composure while presenting your best self? Well, hate to break it to you but, phone interviews are an entirely different beast. How do you convince someone of these things when you?re not even meeting in person?
It is pretty common to have a phone interview before being invited to meet in person. It?s essentially a screening process that companies use to narrow down the pool before deciding who is worth meeting. When applying for learnerships or any professional job post-university, it is quite likely that you will experience several of these ?meetings.? So, how do you ace the phone interview to make it to the next step?
Set the scene
Don?t take the call on your couch. Create the right environment by setting up a ?workspace? at which you can sit and take notes. This space should be quiet and free of distractions, so if your kitchen table is the best you?ve got, ask your family members or roommates to kindly excuse themselves for the duration of the call. If this isn?t realistic, talk to a teacher, career counselor or librarian about snagging an empty classroom or meeting room. The last thing you want is to have inappropriate noises or conversations in the background.
Use a landline, not a cellphone
Don?t let a poor signal or a low battery ruin your call. There?s nothing worse than being in the middle of an important conversation and getting nothing but silence on the other end of the line because you didn?t realize the call dropped. There?s nothing more stressful than getting that ?low battery? beep and frantically searching for a charger before your phone dies. Why risk these things happening when you could be speaking with your future employer? Play it safe by finding a reliable landline.
Do your homework
This is a necessity for any type of interview, whether over the phone or in person. You may think you?re taking the easy route by having the conversation over the phone but that doesn?t mean you are safe from the, ?what do you know about our company?? question. Your interviewer will expect you to know a few things about the company?s objective and background, so read up! You can also use the points that you learn to frame questions that show you did your research and are genuinely interested.
Have your materials ready
This includes a copy of your cover letter, your resume, any notes you took during your research of the company, and a list of questions to ask the interviewer.
This should also include a basic guideline of answers to common interview questions, for ?just in case? purposes. You may hear questions like:
- Why did you apply to this job? What interests you?
- Would you relocate? (if applicable)
- Give me an example of a professional or academic challenge you have faced and how you overcame it.
- Are you willing to travel?
- What is the earliest you could begin, if hired?
Having an idea of what you would say if asked will make it easier if you get caught off-guard.
Dress for the job you want
The saying typically goes, ?dress for the job you want, not the job you have? in reference to how you should present yourself in a professional environment. Just because you won?t technically be IN a professional doesn?t mean you should don sweatpants and unwashed hair.
Why do I have to dress up? They?re not even going to see me?
Dressing professionally will make you act professionally. It will give you confidence, make you sit taller, and speak clearer. You?re going to have to dress this way when you land the job, so you might as well start getting used to it.
Speak clearly and eloquently
One of the biggest things you can do to hurt yourself in any interview, let alone a phone interview, is to swallow your words. Don?t talk too fast, don?t mumble, and don?t use slang. You may feel comfortable enough to joke around with your interviewer, which is fine to an extent, but don?t talk to them like they?re one of your buddies. They shouldn?t strain to hear you, they shouldn?t ask themselves, ?did he really just say that??, and they certainly shouldn?t get the vibe that you can?t hold a professional conversation. It?s OK to be a little nervous, but you should practice speaking slowly (you?ll feel like you?re talking slower than you actually are), and enunciating your words. This is even more important for a phone interview than it is for an in-person interview because you won?t have the face-to-face connection.
This may seem obvious, cause well? you?re on the phone. However, if you tend to be chatty you may find yourself dominating the conversation. Confusing, sure, because you?d think that an interviewer would want you to talk a lot, but there is a difference between leading the conversation and talking so much that you aren?t listening to what they have to say. Don?t forget that an interview goes two ways ? they?re deciding if they want to hire you and you?re seeing if the company would be a good fit for you. Ask follow-up questions to reestablish your interest in the company, pay close attention to their answers and take notes!
Show your gratitude
You were one of few people to make it this far, so be sure to thank your interviewer for their time at the end of the conversation. After 24-48 hours have passed, send a thank you note in the mail, even if they get in touch with you with a ?yay? or a ?nay? first.
It can be really easy to not take a phone interview seriously. Prepare yourself and get that second call!
Where should I apply? How do I find job openings? How do I make my resume stick out over the hundreds of others? What if I don?t get any offers? What if I don?t land the job of my dreams?
With so many hows and what ifs when it comes to applying for jobs after college, you?d think that we?d do everything within our power to set ourselves up for success. However, university students tend to make some big mistakes that make it pretty hard to kick off their careers.
There is no denying that job hunting is difficult. Steer clear of these mammoth career and job search mistakes and you?ll better your chances of getting hired after graduating:
Many students don?t bother building their network until after they?ve graduated, not realizing what a valuable tool it could have been for the job hunt. They search frantically and apply for jobs willy-nilly when they could have reached out to their contacts for help from the start. The truth is that students with a network are more likely to get hired than students who are without. That?s why you should take every opportunity to meet people within your industry of interest and keep their contact information on-hand for when you are ready to seek employment. Many jobs go unadvertised, as companies first put feelers out within their own network for recommendations before opening the door to random applications. Don?t forget that your network is not limited to industry professionals, but open to family and friends as well. Your great aunt?s best friend?s son may know of an opening that is perfect for you, so don?t be shy!
Not Using The University Career Center
Let me ask you something. If you are on the hunt for a post-graduation job, why WOULDN?T you use the resources available to you? The FREE resources, no less. The purpose of a university?s career center is quite literally to help students find and land jobs. Job searching can be really hard! Especially when you are trying to finish up your final semester at the same time. A career center can help you search for openings, teach you interview skills, mentor you, notify you of career fairs, revise your resume and cover letter and more. If you haven?t already, contact your school?s career center to see how they can help.
Waiting For The Dream Job
Hate to break it to you, but your first job will not be your dream job. Chances are your second and third jobs won?t be either. Millennials sometimes live in a fantasy world, thinking that they are entitled to hefty salaries, luxurious offices, and managerial roles straight out of university. Unfortunately for most, this is not realistic. New grads spend too much time looking for the perfect job. Setting the bar high for yourself and having big goals is great, but don?t let those dreams keep you from accepting a job that will teach you skills that you can?t learn in a classroom, and give you experience that will look great on your resume. Your first job will function as a vehicle toward your perfect job, and will likely come along much sooner than you think. Just remember, we all have to start somewhere!
While you shouldn?t wait around for your dream job, you also shouldn?t settle on a mediocre or bad job just because you?re anxious to be employed. We understand the need to make a living but you are allowed to be picky. Don?t take a job just for the paycheck, and don?t take a job that?s outside your field just because you?ve not received offers within? yet. The jobs you hold before you ?make it big? are the ones that are going to function as your stepping stones. You will do some dirty work, you will pick up new skills, and you will begin to understand the inner workings of your industry. Never settle. Hold out for the jobs that will get you where you want to be.
Sending Generic Resumes and Cover Letters
You should always have an up-to-date resume and cover letter but you should never submit them without tailoring them to the job you are applying to. No job is created equal and your applications should reflect that. Show the hiring manager that you read and understood the job description by incorporating the keywords and skills that they are looking for. Remove any bullet points that are not relevant to the position (courses you took, part-time jobs you worked, and any space-filler proficiencies) and think about what you have to offer that would be useful to the company. You are essentially marketing yourself, so sell it!
Not Following Up
Like we always say, you are one of many people looking for a job. Sending in your resume and cover letter is simply not enough. After submitting, FOLLOW UP. Don?t expect your application to magically land at the top of pile. Wait a respectable 72 hours and then call to confirm receipt and to re-express your interest in the job. You must also follow up after an interview, with a thank you note.
Putting Off The Learnerships
Too many students think they can just wait another semester before working a learnership; that they have plenty of time and that if worse comes to worse, their grades will matter more. This is perhaps the biggest mistake of them all, because learnerships mean everything. Yes, your grades are important to a hiring manager, but your experience and skills truly mean more because that?s what will help you get the job done. There is no such thing as starting too early. We?d advise that you start looking into learnerships as early as high school, and if not, the summer after your freshman year.
Taking the time to work learnerships will make the job hunt easier, your network bigger, and your chances of getting hired greater!
Not every learnership is created equal. Some students are fortunate enough to land a gig where they not only get to function as an active member of the team but walk away with a potential job opportunity. Others commit to a learnership that somehow ends up being a far cry from what they signed up for.
So, what do you do when your learnership is not all that it?s cracked up to be? What happens when you aren?t taught what you were promised, or when you end up being the errand runner rather than your superior?s right hand?
Here are 5 ways to make the best out of a poor learnership experience:
1. Review your job description
It?s not uncommon for learnerships to veer off track as supervisors and employees get wrapped up in their own to-do lists. Things are looking good until suddenly, you are left with projects that don?t even last you until your lunch break, or worse? nothing at all. In order to avoid being the go-to coffee girl, be aware of what your job description entails and don?t be afraid to remind your manager(s) what you were offered when you accepted the learnership. Or, if you don?t seem to be picking up all the skills that you expected, compare your daily task list to the job description and figure out where you need to focus more or less of your time. Remember, this is YOUR experience and your future on the line? not theirs.
2. Speak up
It can feel a little bit funny to say what?s on your mind, especially to a supervisor that you want to impress, but it?s a must if you?re going to make the most of your time on the job. Learnerships are often only a couple of months long, so it?s vital that you set the stage for what is sure to be a whirlwind experience. If you are not learning what you need to learn, if you?re feeling mistreated or underutilized, or if you are being told to do grunt work that you did not sign up for? speak up! Your boss is not a mind reader and likely just needs to be told that things are not going well.
You may consider treating the situation as if it were a real job. If you were working for this company full-time and didn?t have any desire to look for another job, what would you do? Just deal with it? No! You?d do what you could to make it better. After all, you have to go in every day for the foreseeable future, so you might as well fix what?s broken. Request a meeting and lay it all out there, while remaining positive and explaining how you?d like to help the company succeed. Stick up for yourself; you are your own best advocate.
3. Explore other options
Perhaps your supervisor is too tied up to think about how you may help beyond filing away boxes of old paperwork. Or maybe, you?ve spent more time twiddling your thumbs than doing anything productive. The only way you can get out of a situation like this is to ask for more. Start with your supervisor. First, find out if he or she may need your hands, and if not, suggest exploring another department until they?re ready to use you.
?I am all caught up with Project X. Do you have any other tasks that I can take on??
?I know you?re swamped with the annual report. Can I help you organize any of the data? I am pretty good with Microsoft Excel.?
?I noticed that Manager X was working on Project Y. If you don?t have anything else for me to do today, do you mind offering my assistance??
The company you work for is supposed to teach you as best they can, but there will be times when you have to take the reins and steer yourself toward your desired end goal. You will likely find that your supervisor was simply too occupied in their work that they didn?t realize how much of a help you could have been
4. Take the bad and think about how to make it better
Some of the best experience you can get is bad experience, because it teaches you how to and more importantly, how NOT to handle certain situations. From how to treat your fellow employees to how to handle difficult customers? it all boils down to proper experience! Also, tasks that seem negative may help you come up with ways that they can be performed more efficiently. Often, a fresh perspective is all a company needs to transform a not-so-effective method into a well-oiled machine.
5. Look at the bigger picture
?Finally, think BIG. No one goes through life with the perfect professional life. If it was perfect, then you wouldn?t have many opportunities to learn, right? Sometimes you just have to do the dirty work with the knowledge that you will eventually be the one calling the shots. Trivial, repetitive, boring tasks make the more challenging projects more exciting, and they make you appreciate those who work beneath you that much more? because you?ve been there. At the end of the day, it?s all a learning experience.
Learnerships are meant to help students discover where they belong. A negative experience may compel you to research other areas to find your best fit, or it may ignite a fire that pushes you to find a company that will offer you the experience you deserve. No matter what, it will help shape you as a person and as a professional in the long run.