There is one piece of common ground that most people of the world share: the desire to have a job. As college students and aspiring professionals, this is our main goal. But how does one get a job? Let’s get right into it and explore the first steps in conquering your career.
What you need to get a job:
Whether you’re taking the work route right straight out of high school or choosing a college major, perhaps the most important thing you must do is get educated on the basics of whichever path you explore.
If you want to work in a company, find out whatever you can about the company: What is its service or product? How many people does this company employ? How many branches exist? What working skills does this company need in an employee (and do I have these skills)? Consider abstract ideas as well: Will this company thrive in the future? Can I lose my job to a robot? Will I have a job here in ten years? Will this job require me to move to another location? Will I like this job? Is the salary worth my effort?
Before you head into a job interview -ANY kind of interview, for that matter- find out the most important details. No employer wants to hire someone who has no idea what he or she is applying for, so aim to impress with your knowledge. Studying the details will definitely benefit you in the end.
Employers like to see what you’ve done in the past in order to consider what you’ll be capable of in the future. Everything you’ve done in your life up to this point has the potential to be something beneficial in job-seeking. Experience can include anything from babysitting your neighbor’s rambunctious children to volunteering at an animal shelter to your part-time job cleaning up spilled popcorn at the movie theater. Your experience can also include your extracurricular activities such as student government treasurer, high school softball team captain, National Honor Society member, Relay for Life team captain, and anything else: the more well-roundedness you prove, the better. If you truly believe you have not accomplished anything, start cracking now!
Every restaurant employer wants to know that between taking orders and serving food a waitress is cleaning up the spill at table four and filling up the salt and pepper shakers. This is a great example, to me, of work ethic. The point of work ethic is that even when nobody is watching you’re still striving to do a great job. My advice for this section to take pride in the work that you do, and never just do a job to get it done! There is always some way to make your job better than just going through the motions. For example, I work at a nursing home. When I’m done serving food to the elderly residents (yes, you guessed it- the previous example was, in fact, reflective of my job), if I have a few minutes of down time I walk around the dining room and ask people how they’re doing and I try to make their days brighter. What usually happens is they turn it around and brighten MY day! One day while I was mingling with the residents, trying to make them smile, a few different people said I’m “a professional,” “the best worker” there, and that I have the most beautiful “bright blue eyes.” As I was trying to cheer everyone else up, this is what I got in return, and THAT is why I enjoy what I do. I also love the friendly and funny work environment my coworkers and I have created; Who said we can’t do our jobs and have fun at the same time? I relate my personal work ethic to karma: If I make the best out of my job just for the sake of doing so, my job gives back to me.
In essence, find your work ethic. Don’t just do your job; make it YOURS.
This is important! Although the best way to get a job, in my opinion, is to get someone in person to know your name, experience, and skills, the next best thing is to have it written down concisely, clearly, and honestly to give to the same person you just impressed to review later. Think of a resumé as an advertisement of you. As a side note, I recently met Dr. Temple Grandin and listened to her speak, and a quote that stuck with me sounded something like, “You are selling your service, not yourself.” A resume is your chance to sell your services through short but super effective snippets of your skills and experience.
If you attend the same school as me, there are workshops offered in making an awesome resume, but if you can’t make a session on time just go to the Insalaco Center for Career Development to learn some tips. Another great option is to Google “How to write a resume” and gawk at the hundreds of results and put what you learn into action. Even if you graduate in five years, the best time to develop your resume is now.
You’ve met thousands of people throughout your lifetime. The question now is: Which of these people do you trust to talk to your could-be employers? Consider using teachers, coaches, volunteer supervisors, and past employers as references only if you think they will back you up and make you sound great if your could-be employer calls them. The trick is to choose people who will be absolutely honest but still make you sound good (because hey, you ARE good. You’re remarkable, really. Believe it.). Form strong relationships with professors, bosses, coworkers, faculty, staff, fellow volunteers, your priest, the mailman, your hairdresser, and anybody else who you interact with that you think might have your back sometime later in life. I mean, don’t just be friends with them so they’ll write you a recommendation letter later in life, but always keep it in mind.
So, the point of this post was not just to read for pleasure. The point is to get started, hop to it, and get moving on your job search. Stay confident and committed!
Here is a photo of me with Dr. Temple Grandin. If you don’t know who she is, incorporate her into your job-related research! She has a lot of useful information to say about jobs!
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