The job market is already flooded with plenty of folks seeking work, and more will be on the way with the new slate of upcoming college graduates.
Ford Myers, a career coach, author and speaker, was kind enough to compile a list of his top 10 tools every new college grad needs to land a first job, a list that could be helpful for any job seeker.
While his tools are well and good, they seem to be jumping the gun – kind of like giving a power saw to someone who has yet to master a pair of scissors.
Based on my own observations of new hires throughout the years, and actually doing some of the hiring – and firing – myself, I’ve noted some folks are certainly not ready for that power saw.
A list of 10 fundamental job-seeking tools should come first:
1. Persistence. Many companies are not going to call you back. Call them. Many are going to brush you off. Call them again.
2. Attitude. Kill off the sense of entitlement. The world does not “owe you a living” just because you exist. Nor should you get a paycheck just because you walk in the door. Alas, you may have to actually do some work.
3. Work ethic. Yes, working can be tiring. Yes, it can be boring. No, you can’t go to lunch at 9:30 a.m.
4. Basic office skills. Then there’s the story of the young employee who was asked to file some paid invoices. Rather than file them alphabetically under the company names, she filed them all under “P,” for paid. You should also not freak out in confusion when asked to use a copy machine.
5. Basic computer skills. We’re not talking about advanced computer programming here. One guy applied at a newspaper office – but didn’t know how to type.
6. Basic willingness. Don’t think certain tasks are “beneath you.” Sure, you may have been hired with a lofty title like “sales associate” but that doesn’t mean you may not have to take out the trash.
7. Common courtesy. Don’t chomp and crack gum while sitting at your desk or talking to clients on the phone. Don’t stick that chewed gum beneath the meeting room’s conference table.
8. Common sense. Don’t try to unjam the paper shredder while it’s plugged in and running, especially by sticking your hand between the blades.
9. Extended vocabulary. Every other word should not be “like.” Every other phrase should not be “You know,” you know?
10. Initiative. When you finish one task, don’t just sit there. Move on to the next. Look around and see what needs to be done. Then do it.
10 1/2. Ability to work without iPod stuck to head.
Oh yeah, you’ll also need a resume. Please don’t scribble it out on the back of a cereal box.
Once you’ve mastered these basics, check out Myers’s list:
10 tools every new college grad needs to land a first job – by Ford Myers
1. Accomplishment stories. Write five or six compelling stories about school or work-related tasks that made you proud.
2. Positioning statement. Prepare and practice a “15-second commercial” about who you are, what you’ve done in the past (academically and professionally, if applicable, and the particular strengths you can contribute to an employer.
3. Professional biography. Write a one-page narrative of your career in the “third person” – as though someone else wrote it about you.
4. Target company list. Make a “wish list” of adjectives that would describe your ideal employer, such as size, location, industry, culture, environment, etc. Then research specific organizations that meet those criteria, and put them on a list of 35 to 50 “target companies.”
5. Contact list. Compile a list of all the people you know personally and professionally. Remember that approximately 80 percent of new opportunities are secured through networking.
6. Professional/academic references. List colleagues or professors who would “sing your praises” if asked about you. Contact each of them, and get approval to use their names on your list of references.
7. Letters of Recommendation. Request letters from four or five respected business colleagues or academic associates which will be printed on their professional letterhead.
8. Networking Agenda. Write out a full networking discussion or script so you will know exactly how to manage the networking discussion – how it flows, what to expect, how to react to the other person’s comments, etc.
9. Tracking System. Keep a detailed record of your job search activities, including phone calls, meeting notes and correspondence. This is essential to keeping your process organized and productive.
10. Resume. It’s the last on the list, but still indispensable. And, it has to be GREAT. Be sure your final resume is carefully edited and succinct (no more than two pages) with a layout that is easy for the eye to follow.
And please don’t wear flip-flops to your interview.
What do you think?
What’s the most ridiculous work behavior you’ve seen in new hires?
Are too many people riddled with a sense of entitlement when it comes to work?
Are too many lazy?
Have work ethics crumbled to dust?