Photo by StockUnlimited.com
It’s intensely frustrating. You spend years getting further education, you work your butt off, you rack up extra debt, and afterwards no doors will open because ‘you lack experience’ or because university ‘didn’t teach you the skills you need.’ But how can you get experience if nobody will give you a job?
Well fear not; there are actually ways to get that dream job after all, and that’s without first working 10 years at some entry-level position trying to make your mark. It just means working hard right now and showing everybody that you’ve got the mojo to pull it off.
So are you ready to get noticed? Here’s what you’ve got to do.
Do the time
Despite what many young people think, the world doesn’t owe them anything. That means your dream job is not going to get thrown into your lap. If you want it, you’ve got to look for it, hunt for it, and when you found it, battle to get it. So make sure you don’t sit back and wait for something to happen.
Instead, pursue every channel to get the job you want, be it social media, friends of the family, career counseling at university or the classifieds in the local newspaper (some people actually still use those). And apply to everything that sounds close to what you want. Even if you don’t end up wanting it, the experience from going to the interview can be just what you need to wow your future employers when you do land the right interview.
Develop your soft skills
One of the biggest problems employers have with fresh graduates is that they don’t have the soft skills necessary to actually get anywhere in the workplace. By soft skills I mean teamwork, communication, writing and problem-solving skills. An even bigger problem? Graduates think they’re actually very good at those things and therefore don’t take the time to become better at them. Don’t be like everybody else; accept that you’ve still got a lot to learn, then go out of your way to learn soft skills!
Be confident but not arrogant
There is another good reason besides soft skills that many people don’t like hiring recent graduates – and that’s because recent graduates often have a much higher estimation of what they’re capable of than what they’re actually capable of. They come swaggering into the workplace believing that they’ll show these business people a thing or two about how it’s done.
The thing is, often they don’t know how it’s done. They’ve got too little work experience and often too much idealism. They’ve got a lot to learn but think too highly of themselves to realize this is so.
Don’t be that person. Be respectful, accept that you’re still at the beginning of your life and that experience is valuable, but make it clear to your future employer that you’re smart enough to know what you know and driven enough to learn what you don’t. That will impress them.
Prepare for the interview
There are some tricky questions interviewers can’t ask you, and if you haven’t prepared then they may stump you. So take time to prepare. Not only that, but make sure you know the names of the people you’re going to interview with, as well as whatever basic facts you can find online. People will be impressed if you are well-informed. It shows that you care, that you’re a good researcher, that you’re proactive and that you’re willing to invest effort to get what you want.
Show off your expertise
If you want the dream job, you’ve got to show that your skill set is much greater than your limited CV gives you credit for. So you’ve got to show off your expertise. This can be done in multiple ways–by getting an endorsement from somebody who matters in the industry or one of your professors, for instance, but probably the best way is to actually start working in the field. So either start freelancing while you’re still in college, or otherwise start blogging and build up a reputation as somebody who knows what they’re talking about.
Read books and articles in your field, understand theory as best you can, know who the players are, and when you get around to writing your cover letter, show them how much you care. Now don’t be a gushing ninny. You’ve got to be professional, but you still have to demonstrate to them that even though you don’t have as much experience as everybody else in the field, you’ve got more than enough passion to make up for it.
Be a protagonist
You’ve got to take responsibility for your actions or your lack thereof. It won’t be easy to jump the cue. It will, in fact, take a lot of hard work, so you’ve got to prepare for that. That said, it is possible so long as you take the time to be do what you’ve got to do and show that you’re a cut above the rest.
And if it goes wrong, own it, learn what you can from it and get back up again. Then push on. That’s the only way it’s going to work. You’ve got to be the hero of your own story, because otherwise you’re the victim. And who hires the victim?
Jonathan Emmen, guest writer
Jonathan Emmen is a student and an inspired blogger from Copenhagen. His passion is writing, and he finds inspiration in traveling, books, and movies. You can follow him on @JonnyEmmen or you can also follow him on Kinja.