A college degree is just a piece of paper to me. I worked hard and spent a lot of money on mine. But, it’s not what got me a job. Thousands of people who are without a job right now have that piece of paper…some are just more expensive or earned in different fields.
In order to be a marketable job candidate once you graduate, I believe you need to spend hours outside of the classroom to develop your real-world skills.
You need to make yourself stand out amongst thousands of potential job seekers. Leave your suggestions on standing out in the comments section. Here are my tips:
- Workplace experience. Whether you volunteer, intern or freelance, you need experience with depth and breadth. This means extensive experience in one area is great, but you also should consider gaining experience in several different areas. The more time you spend working in the real world before you graduate, the better off you will be.
- A strong network. I always found it annoying when people told me that I needed to “network” more. But, I’ve discovered that networking is definitely more about building professional relationships and getting to know people, not shaking hands and reading name tags at luncheon events.
- Personality. Bosses hire people who they think they will like working with. I’ve known people who look perfect on paper…but they have the personality of a housefly. Don’t be afraid to be a real person.
- Professionalism. You will be immediately judged on how you present yourself. I know flip flops have no affect on your skills, but it does put off an impression.
- Confidence, not cockiness. Sure, you might know your stuff and its good to know it. But, you don’t want to come off as too cocky.
- Know the strategy, not just the tool. Your clients won’t care that Twitter is cool. They need to know the strategy behind the tools and the potential ROI before they commit to it.
- Demonstrate initiative. Do things just because you want to improve your skills. Go to conferences, watch webinars, write a blog and read books related to your career.
You don’t necessarily need a degree to get a job. You need skills. That piece of paper means nothing after you graduate if you don’t strive to make yourself better than the rest.
What would you suggest? What areas could entry-level employees improve upon?