Career Advice for College Grads

Many thanks to Sanjeev Himachali for the great advice…

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Fresher in the Market – Reality Check

So, you have already completed your graduation or post graduation and now looking for a job. What do you think that the corporate world is looking in you? Are you actually ready to market yourself and face pressure of expectations? Having interviewed several hundred’ of interviewees in the last couple of months, I believe that the youngsters are ill-prepared. They miss the killer-instinct and spark that is required by the corporate world and their attitude is not just appropriate. Who is to be blamed for this – the candidate or the institute? In this write-up we are making an attempt to list down the bare-minimum expectations by corporate world from fresh graduates and how one shall prepare for the reality check?

Minimum expectations from Candidates:

1. Domain knowledge – We are aware that the candidate is raw and fresh and have no work experience. Therefore, no one asks them work or experience related questions but a candidate is expected to have thorough knowledge of what they have studied including the in-depth understanding of their projects and assignments. There must be a reason for everything and anything that they have mentioned in their profile.

2. Right attitude – Being hard-working is no more a powerful any selection criteria. Remember that you are not applying for workers job in a factory. Passion, enthusiasm, high-energy, self-discipline, self-awareness, self-belief, zeal to learn, sincerity, and honesty are some of the traits that any corporate looks for and these individual characteristics must be visible and demonstrative.

3. Knowledge about the industry / company – If you are preparing for campus interviews, you were given enough time to research about companies that are expected to visit the campus and if you reaching out various companies on your own then the onus is on you to spend considerable time to know about the company and the industry. Also, you must analyze how your profile and skills will fit into the proposed role. This shows your seriousness and interest level to be a part of the company that you have applied. If you are applying for multiple roles in multiple companies then you must at least prepare a list of companies that you have applied along with the respective roles and spend time to research about those companies.

4. Clarity of thoughts – The onus is on you to find the right kind of role for yourself and not vice-versa. Therefore, one must spend time to assess their strengths and weaknesses. You should know what you want from your life and to what extent you are willing to go to get what you want. It irritates the interviewer when you say that you are open for any kind of job or role. You must also be confident in your responses.

5. Logical approach – Your answers and responses must be logically correct and sensible. For example, just because you have taken a loan for your education or that you have family to support does not qualify you for a high salary package, if you are not worth of it. Similarly, the fact that you have some experience, does not qualify you for a senior role if you do not have the required skills.

Preparing Fresh Graduates for an Impressive Interview

1. Self-Assessment – No one can understand you better than you yourself. You must be aware of your strengths as well as your weaknesses and limitations. Just because X can do something does not mean that you too can do it. You must also have a fair idea about what you want in your life and what you are willing to sacrifice to get what you want.

2. Read your profile – You must read and re-read your profile before entering into the interview room. You must have answers for all the questions that may arise out of your profile, including your past experiences, projects, assignments, skills, and any other personal trait that you have mentioned in it. Your interview will be based on the content of your profile and your responses during the interview.

3. Be informative rather than ignorant or arrogant – The person sitting on the other side of the table is certainly more knowledgeable and informative then you and hence try to be as honest and sincere in your responses as you can. Any stupidity or act of arrogance at your end will only cost you the job offer.

4. Marketing and positioning yourself – Irrespective of the domain or the technology you have specialized in, you need to market your profile. You must be able to convince the interviewer, how you are better than the rest of the candidates. What you have in you that others don’t have? What is your unique selling point? You must be prepared to answer all these and many other related questions.

5. Self-Discipline, punctuality and patience – How you respond to the recruiter? Your script, your tone, the content of your email / covering letter, arrival at the interview venue, activities that you engage yourself in while waiting for your turn are some of the factors that can make or break your chances of getting your first major break. On the date of your interview, if you call up the interviewer to tell him that you will not be able to attend the interview at the given time or date for X, Y, Z reasons than you are actually minimizing your chances.

6. Ask right kind of questions – The kind of questions that you may ask the interviewer also decides your fate. Most of the time these questions are expected to be related to the proposed role, involved challenges and expectations of the organization. However, the kind of questions that candidates usually asks are related to working hours, working days, holidays, benefits and salaries and thereby, disqualifying themselves from the selection process.

7. Baby steps to professionalism – When you decide to take that first step from your adolescent academic life to the corporate world and professional life, you must also be able to distinguish between your personal and professional life. For example, all your close friends or acquaintances may not get the job in the same city or company or the same profile because they do not have the skills that you have. So, you can decide to not to join the organization for that reason at your own peril. Corporate world is different from college days and hence one must be prepared for some shocking surprises and at the same time willing and ready to adjust. First SIX months are going to be critical and that will decide your adaptability, willingness to learn and ability to handle work-pressure.

Conclusion

It is the responsibility of the concerned institute to prepare candidates for the corporate world through a series of personality development programs. Students are also expected to spend time on self and identify and what they really want in their life because no one else but only they are aware of their strengths, limitations, culture and values. However, none of these are happening and as a result, although there are many people who are qualified graduate engineers and post graduates and MBA’s but more than 75-80% of them are unemployable. Companies are spending time and resources to prepare these people for their company, company-culture and industry and then they are losing these employees because of their uncertain and confused attitude and fragile approach. It is important that these new kids in the market work on their attitude for their own good and benefit.

Your feedback and comments are very valuable to us. Feel free to write to us to share your thoughts and views.

Composed by: Sanjeev Himachali

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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