So you’re about to graduate with a newly minted degree and some in-depth knowledge of a discipline you love. Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off, and you’re on your way! Of course you’ve been hearing some dismal news about the job market, and of course you’ve tempered your expectations and are prepared to be patient, determined, and relentless as you start applying for your first post-collegiate employment experience.
But there are a few considerations you may not have been exposed to yet, and as a long-established expert in the staffing field, I’ve seen some economic ups and downs and I’d be remiss not to share what I’ve learned. Keep these thoughts in mind as you step onto the first rung of your lifelong career ladder.
Tips for Recent Grads
- When people tell you to “dress for success,” they’re not kidding. People who make company decisions don’t always have access to volumes of information, so they make many of those decisions based on impressions alone. When someone evaluates you, they usually aren’t taking in your complex personality or accounting for how hard you worked on all those exams and papers. They’re just looking at you. Make sure they’re impressed by what they see.
- Don’t let go. If you want something, hang onto it tightly. If you loosen your grip and let go, nobody will notice and nobody will care. But if you hold on, call a few more times, send another email, persist, and show that you really, really care, you’ll be surprised at how often decision makers respond to your pressure and interest. Being a “pest” is not as offensive as you might believe.
- Get ready to be knocked around by rough currents. People are impossible. They’re oblivious, hyper-critical, dismissive, disrespectful, and sometimes just plain jerks to young workers and new grads. But you’ll be better off if you don’t take these things personally and if you absorb these bumps and bruises with a little bit of pride. Each rejection and criticism contains a lesson, and each one gets you closer to a better place (though this may seem hard to believe at the time.)
- Do what you’re told…until you earn the right not to. Obedience, cheer, and jumping when your boss says jump will offer a clear road map to success. For a little while. After that, you’ll need to start applying the lessons you’ve learned and taking control of your own destiny. Knowing where the line is between the two can mean the difference between a happy, fulfilling relationship with work and a lifelong struggle.