Grades are the determining factor for performance in school, and uni degrees and high scores are kick-starters for your career. But in the professional world, that’s not how it works. This is what you need to know if you are hunting for your first well-paid job…
Which Smarts Matter?
Your uni or college scores are a combination of several factors, but your marks aren’t really the best indicator of how you’ll perform in the working world. We all know that person with perfect grades who struggles socially, or that person who couldn’t care less about school but seems to have no trouble making great things happen in their life. Book smarts and street smarts are very different things.
Take your education seriously. Do the work, practice what a “sense of duty” is and learn something. But I’m here to tell you, your GPA doesn’t matter once you enter the job world.
Here’s what does:
# 1 Demonstrate your learning ability Spend time during your higher education determining how you best learn and retain information. Some people need to see it, some need to hear it, some need to write it, and some need to practice it before it sticks. You won’t get hired if you cannot show how you learn and retain information.
# 2 Demo Real life situations It’s one thing to recite the four P’s of marketing or learn how the purchase decision funnel looks on paper, but things won’t always happen in the marketplace the way they do in your textbooks. Learn and then show in job interviews how you convert information and best practices and apply them in real situations or projects. Knowing how to adapt theory to practice is crucial, that’s how you convince an employer to give you the gig.
# 3 The ability to give and receive feedback Learning to accept praise and/or criticism is very important and it shows maturity. Employers want to see that you know how to listen and how to speak. You’ll participate in employee reviews with your boss someday, so the ability to hear different types of feedback, internalize it, and adjust accordingly will matter to your job performance.
It’s also important to learn to how to listen, assess and give feedback to others.
# 4 Emphasize your Time Management skills Learn how much time you need to research and write a paper, get to your classes and jobs on time, fit a workout into your day, and still have something of a social life… Time management is a vital skill. In your professional life, you’ll need to know how to manage your time to meet deadlines, tackle to-do lists, and avoid banging your head against the wall in the process. Time management is about being able to deliver on time, not cruising. Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh, but it is amongst the first things that matter to employers.
# 5 Showcase your relevant experience(s) Don’t confuse having had ‘lots of jobs’ with job experience. Jobs, internships, student organizations, and volunteer projects in your industry will prepare you best for the working world. Do as much as you can to work in your field during college or uni and learn about what you want to do (or in some cases, what you don’t want to do). Your future boss will take your experience as the absolute best indicator for your potential in a new position.
# 6 Demonstrate your Presentation skills Now this is a sensitive one, but very important–you don’t have to be in sales and marketing to be convincing. Your new job is not your family, you will need to adjust to the team. Offer to be the speaker on behalf of your group in your uni classes, and learn how to present your projects as an intern if you are lucky enough to score an internship. The ability to convey and present ideas clearly, speak confidently with your bosses, and discuss your experience in interviews or meetings will be an important part of your professional life.
# 7 Proof your Writing skills It’s sad how many people make it through their education lacking solid writing ability. It’s cool to be social media smart, but you do need the ability to convey your written message in more than just 156 characters if you want to survive in the business world. Focus on developing this skill, because it will matter in everything from reports to pitches to e-mails to simple notes. You don’t have to become a blogger, but finding places to practice writing content, writing basic instructions and having it contructively edited will really help improve your skills
# 8 Impress – proof – and deliver with your work. Doing vs. Being will help you to get your foot in the door. Talk is cheap, if you know what I mean.
Keep samples of your best work from classes and internships—hard copy, soft copy and of course the stuff in the cloud. Show that you know to work the tools and that you are social media savvy. There is no excuse for not knowing or understanding the basics of social media in 2015-16. Many hiring managers will want to see your work before they hire you. If you’re not building a portfolio of things you’re required to do before you graduate, then produce these things on your own time as early as possible. Practice writing skills, press releases, pitches, designing publications, IT work, compiling clip reports, research summaries, or anything else you might be hired to do. Practice is important. Demo that you are a do-er, not a talker.
# 9 Network. You’ve heard it many times: “Who you know is more important than what you know.” It’s absolutely true… Start building your network right away. Get in the habit of meeting new people, nourishing your relationships, and helping others by making introductions. You are most likely to find job opportunities through your network, so build it
# 10 Hunt wisely! Job hunting and scoring a good job requires more. You can impress with the high score GPA and the uni degree, but if you hunt and apply for jobs that you are clearly not suited for, then you are wasting time. Hunt and apply only in areas relevant to your skill and industry, and then continue to prove that you are worth hiring with some (or all) of the before mentioned skills.
Once you get the gig, ensure to deliver, or the new job is over before it has started.
Good Luck job hunting and remember to hunt wisely!