I am always looking for news or helpful information on education at all levels. Today I came across a real winner. Written in October 2013 by a Globe and Mail guest columnist, Kate MacKenzie, she presented four tips to land a great job straight out of school.
Of course it was the catchy title of the article that got my attention and that is precisely what job seekers have to do as well — get the attention of an employer who is hiring.
I also noticed that MacKenzie indicated in her byline that she was a representative of TalentEgg, although she is not shown as part of the team on their About page. In any event, visitors to TalentEgg.ca have got to know they can count on good ideas and contacts given a motto like — hatching student and grad careers.
Tip One: Campus Involvement and Leadership. There is no better way to show what you are made of, and how you can be a valuable contribution to an employer, than what you did during the three or four years you were studying — be it volunteer or paid work. The reason this is important is because you would have been using transferable skills and attributes, such as showing you can lead, get along with people, organize and prioritize events, communicate in person and in writing and, last but not least, that you are reliable — that when you say you will do something, you follow through.
Tip Two: Make sure you have a mix of soft skills. When employers are looking for someone who has the right “fit” they look for soft skills. More often than not, today’s businesses look for team players. Being able to effectively work as part of a team is a soft skill. However, occasionally, the opposite may be true. So, being able to work independently is another soft skill. As well, as already alluded to in Point # 1, good verbal communication skills, as well as being able to problem solve on your feet, are soft skills.
Tip Three: Strong Written and Oral Communication Skills. Note that all of these tips involve skills and attributes that are interconnected. I have hired staff in the past. The key to getting an interview in the first place is the covering letter and resume because if you can’t communicate effectively in writing, most human resource people, or if a small business, the employer, will simply pass over your application. In other words, because you are marketing yourself your covering letter has to state why you would be a good choice for the job — whether it was advertised or you heard about it through word of mouth. Yes, this is one time you can blow your own horn — as long as you word things in a way that doesn’t come across as bravado or bragging.
Tip Four: An understanding of the employer and the industry. I actually believe this tip should be first. With the Internet, Facebook and Twitter, there is absolutely no reason not to have a pretty good picture of the business or industry in which you want to work. If being interviewed, you simply have to sound informed and interested.
Related to this point, but not part of MacKenzie’s tips, if you are to be interviewed, think of one or more questions you can ask. Why? Because no job interview is complete until the interviewer(s) say: “So, do you have any questions?” Always have at least one question ready because, as with knowing about the company and/or industry, it shows you really want the job.
Oh, and when you are researching the company, find out what you can about their dress code because the last thing a job seeker needs to find out at the time of an interview, is that they are over-dressed in a tailored suit or dress or under-dressed in jeans. If, however, that information is not available, it is best to err on the side of caution and simply go dressy casual.
Conclusion: The crux of the matter is that all job seekers right out of college or university need to figure out what skills and attributes they have that an employer might want. And, no, the major or specialization you took is not what I am talking about because that information is likely a given. Rather, think about what you know and can do related to your field of expertise.
To do that, you will have to brainstorm skills and attributes and prioritize them into categories and point-form lists. Then, you will have to use that information to develop a blueprint resume which can be slightly revised to reflect each job search. In fact, if there is an advertisement available, go through all the points of the ad and make sure your resume deals with each point.
That is where your education and training comes into play. If the ad says, for example, you need a B.Sc in a certain discipline, make sure you have such a degree, will soon have such a degree, or at the very least, have equivalent experience.
It is similar with covering letters, although obviously not as detailed because they are usually no more than three paragraphs. Just make sure each letter is tailored to the job as advertised. The first paragraph of such a letter describes the job being applied for, the second states why you would be a good candidate and the third and final paragraph says why you are looking forward to an interview.
Without a doubt, using these four tips to develop a personal job strategy, as well as what the TalentEgg website has to offer, is sure to put graduates on a path to getting hired.