Five Words That Scare College Students
When students graduate from college, they expect to begin a new job, one that will launch their careers and get them started in life. They will have worked their way through college and reached the senior year with the expectation that they are prepared to conduct their senior year job search, will take a few interviews and will receive one or more job offers. Unfortunately, things don’t always go the way we all would like them to work out. In fact, after a long, frustrating and disappointing job search effort, unprepared students and recent graduates will start the negative self-talk and think to themselves, “I can’t find a job.”
Those five words should scare every college student. That’s why it’s important for students to understand that the battle for a good job starts long before the senior year of college. Nobody can conduct an effective senior year job search, having done little or nothing to get prepared for that job search. “Getting Ready” is what students should be doing during each and every semester of college.
Since most students just don’t know what they should be doing to get ready, let’s deal with that issue here and now. There are things that students can be working on from the first day they enter college. Therefore, students who are serious about landing a good job should concentrate on things that will help them do just that. They include the following:
1. Enthusiastically pursue beneficial knowledge, activities, experiences and friendships
2. Discover and explore personal interests, directions, capabilities and limits
3. Become known for something associated with their interests and direction
4. Impress at least one influential Professor
5. Involve themselves with two or more doers and thinkers in their field
6. Get some solid work experience in their area of interest
7. Develop relationships with three or more impressive references
8. Lead a group that achieves something positive and significant
9. Develop, then demonstrate exceptional communication skills
10. Research 200+ employers that hire college grads with their capabilities
11. Create and utilize their personal Alumni network
12. Develop a comprehensive job search strategy
Each of these assignments must be started early in the college experience and should be completed before the beginning of the senior year. Because these difficult and challenging tasks will take a long time to complete, any student who waits until their senior year to get started will almost certainly have killed their chances for landing the job they have dreamed about. They won’t be prepared for the five word question that the best employers want answered, “Why should we hire you?”
When students approach their college and job search responsibilities in a systematic and businesslike manner, they will help to ensure that their search for employment ends in success. A semester-by-semester plan should be developed, written out and followed. That plan will bring clarity and a timetable to the steps required in the critical process that is overlooked by too many capable students.
We all know that not everything will go smoothly along to way. When problems and obstacles occur, students must call upon their pride, determination and creativity to push through or go around the challenges that present themselves. Employers look for those qualities that enable students to keep going, when things get rough. During interviews, students should be prepared to present and discuss their accomplishments, including a few stories about the obstacles that were overcome. Employers love students who have had to fight for success, can stand up to difficulties and still function well.
Because the best candidates are already fully prepared for their job search, they can devote their entire senior year to that effort. All of the preliminary work was completed earlier. Now it’s just a matter of executing their strategy in an exceptional manner, one that will result in them uttering five more words, “I have a great job.”
Bob Roth, a former campus recruiter, is the author of four books: The College Student’s Companion, College Success: Advice for Parents of High School and College Students, The College Student’s Guide To Landing A Great Job -and- The 4 Realities Of Success During and After College. Known as The “College & Career Success” Coach, Bob writes articles for College Career Services Offices, Campus Newspapers, Parent Associations and Employment Web Sites. Bob has created The Job Identification Machine™, a system that colleges use to identify thousands of employment opportunities for students.