Grads: Be Bold to Secure Jobs

  • Sep 08, 2005
  • Vicky Smith
  • Career advancement

In February, most people start thinking about how great it will to trade in snow shoveling for golfing, playing baseball, gardening or other great outdoor activities.  The attention of thousands of graduates from high schools, community colleges, private colleges and universities turns to looking for their first permanent job at this time of year.  Whether it be a high school grad looking for an industrial or entry office position or an MBA looking for a management position, the process is the same but the resources are different.

The universal complaint from grads is “employers are asking for all this experience.  How can I get the experience if they won’t hire me?”  One way to clear this road block is to understand the skills employers are looking for and communicate examples of how you use them in your covering letters, resumes and interviews.

The Conference Board of Canada polled 25 key Canadian companies regarding the skills they look for in potential employees.  The results were published in a paper titled  ‘Employability Skills Profile’ and the highest rated skills were:

    · Using good written and oral communication skills to effectively work with customers, managers and co-workers

Thinking critically to evaluate and solve problems

Setting goals and priorities and using initiative, energy and persistence to get the job done

Taking responsibility for continuously upgrading skills to keep up with evolving technology

Coping with a fast paced, constantly changing work environment

• Being a good team player as more employers empower teams to make critical business decisions

To convince employers to give you a chance, you have to put yourself in their shoes and talk their language.  The only reason an employer will hire you is to help her/him make money.  Communicate to potential employers how you will use your skills and abilities to improve productivity, save costs or make money.  Now you’re talking the employer’s language.

The term ‘hidden job market’ is very popular these days.  In reality, the best job opportunities are easily found – they are in your house, neighborhood and social circle.  People connect with good jobs through conversation. Grads, especially, need to step out of their comfort zone of giving their resume to the 3 or 4 people they feel comfortable with if they want to source out a good job. 

The same old truths apply that have always applied in job searching – ‘finding a job is like finding a needle in a haystack’ and ‘you have to be at the right place at the right time’. If you spend 80% of your time searching the net, responding to job ads and mailing out resumes, you are going the wrong way on a one-way street.  The only way to uncover the job you want is through face-to-face dialogue.  Get out in the community and give your resume to neighbours, friends of your parents, teachers/professors, parents of your friends and everyone else you know who is working somewhere.

Grads who can effectively communicate their transferable skills to match those employers are looking for; and who are bold in their job search by talk to everyone about finding that first permanent job, won’t be crying the ‘no job blues’ but collecting a pay cheque.