A number of years ago, I ran into a former student who had just recently graduated. She told me how frustrated she was at trying to find a job since most companies required her to fill out an online application that included her GPA. Since her grades weren’t the best, she said that many companies would not even consider her because of her low grades. She asked me for advice.
I knew this student well, and although her grades weren’t the best, she was very talented and had a great personality, and I knew she would be successful. She just needed a chance to prove it. I told her that the best thing she could do is to “skip” the online application and go directly to the hiring source. I told her that she shouldn’t wait for her perfect job to come to her, but she should go and get her perfect job.
The job market these days is very competitive. There are many qualified candidates for a few quality positions. That’s why you need to be proactive with your job search. Find positions before they’re advertised. Get the skills and knowledge that companies want before you graduate. So how do you know about these positions and what skills and knowledge companies want? Ask them! Before you graduate, contact the HR manager and department manager of companies you want to work for and ask to meet with them. Ask them what you can do as part of your university education to make you more desirable. What courses should you take? What other training is necessary? Can you do an internship before you graduate?
To do this, you actually have to know what kind of job you want and what companies you want to work for. So many students spend four years of university studying and learning, but not preparing for their career. Use your university life to prepare yourself for the rest of your life! Figure out what you’re good at and what you like to do, and become better at it. Then focus on getting a job where you do what you like to do.
On a related note, most students rely on searching for job ads to find a job. Did you know that most available positions are never advertised? These days many positions are filled through recommendations from other people. A while ago I met someone who is a manager for a global banking corporation. When it comes to hiring new employees, he told me that he never looks at resumes. Everyone he hires he meets through networking. As a student, use networking to your advantage to find a good job. Go to seminars, alumni meetings, and other events where you can meet people that have influence in the companies that you want to work for. Print your own business cards and hand them out when you meet people. Ask them if you can send them your resume. Even if those companies aren’t hiring at the moment, when they do hire, chances are they’ll remember you.
After you graduate, your job will become your life. There’s nothing worse than working at a job you don’t like or working in a company that you don’t respect. Spend your time at university planning for your career and your perfect job and company. Then, go and get that job!
By the way, the student I mentioned before took my advice. She is now the SE Asian manager for a global designer brand. She travels all over Asia, has lived in numerous other countries, and loves her job!
Professor Marc Neufeld graduated from Sejong Syracuse Global MBA with a major in Communication and International Business. He has been teaching in Department of International Office Administration and especially about business communication.