While I want anyone to be able to get the most out my blog posts, this post is especially important for college graduates within the last few years. I, along with all of you have spent the last 13+ years in school. While the structure changed over the years, someone still stood in front of us and taught us something. The job market is a whole different playing field compared to school. We must quickly become adaptable to what is required of us now. A career will test you in other ways than a grade on a piece of paper. Tests begin to happen your first day upon walking into the company, starting with you first impression (some can argue that your first test in at the interview). You’re being analyzed by your co-workers and boss the minute you walk into the door, making your every move a test of being successful. While I believe that experience and education are contributing factors in getting a job, it is those skills not listed on your resume that make you a better individual in the work place. To pass tests such as the first impression, you need to be yourself.
You probably heard in college all about gaining experience and keeping your GPA up. While those are great things to achieve, they are items that you can add to your resume. A great resume can get you starting in career building, but the resume alone will not get you past the interview. Interviewers have seen what your capable of on paper. Now, they will want to get to know you a little. Answering questions by repeating your resume or cover letter back to interviewers will not get you a position. You have to know yourself and what kind of worker you are/want to be in order to show your potential company how you can contribute to their business.
Check out this great TEDTalk that discusses the difference between recorded success and unrecorded success. It is a really great explanation to what you can to help you become successful. Go Steve Jobs (again!)
While this video is a tad lengthy, please go back and watch the whole thing (skimming through doesn’t help you). She does such a great job talking about adversity and using your adversity to become successful. Things that we have been taught in interviewing to get the position are not what interviewers are looking for. You probably have heard before about taking your strengths and claiming them as weaknesses. Example: an interviewer asks “what are your weaknesses?”, you reply with “I’m a perfectionist, and that gets in my way of completing work on a deadline sometimes.” That line (while true for some) has been widely overused and employers see it coming. Do not use the typical answers just because they are typical. True adversity and truly making the lemonade out of your own lemons are the skills an employer wants in their company.
Education and those various odd jobs have provided us with great experiences can contribute to the resume. But just think about some of the stuff that you’ve learned that you wouldn’t know how to put on a resume. I believe that I’ve got a great resume. It outlines some key positions that I have had and related experience to my field. That really isn’t all who I am. My co-workers have complimented me in my work, but it has never been because I can “perform various duties as assigned by supervisor”. No, they like me for my positive attitude and for being invested in my work just as they are. I did not learn to get a positive attitude from studying the Fundamentals of Gerontology at 9pm the night before the exam. Having a positive attitude is just who I am.
The best question I have been asked in an interview is “tell me something you want people to know about you that isn’t on your resume”. I still love this question because it drives home the point of this post. Employers are huge into getting to know a potential candidate they will have to invest resources in. Ask yourself this question; see what you can come up with. Please understand that a good resume and great interview skills are part of getting a job and building your career. You also need to make sure your not getting caught up in articles that say “do this and not that to land the job”. Building your career is not an assembly line. While your mentors, parents, professors, etc. have given you great advice in advancing in your career, remember who you are. Be yourself and show people how great you are.
P.S. if you are curious to what my answer is to the interview question, comment with your responses to this question and I will tell you want I said. Let me know what you would say, I want to learn more about all of you.