After years of counseling college students and recent grads about finding their first job, former CSO director Jim Shattuck ’67 has a simple model: “In the job game, it’s ‘three strikes and you’re in.'” The lineup consists of a solid resume, an accurate personal assessment and aggressive networking. Play ball!
When it comes your resumes, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. In effect, your resume is you on paper. You are virtually dependent upon this critical job-search document working for you. Few employers actually read a resume; they skim it. No matter how much you’ve got to say, most people will look at resumes for ten seconds or less. The message? Choose your words carefully and present your most compelling selling points. There are no absolute rights and wrongs in preparing your resume. You determine the impression the reader will have of you. Finally, get your resume right the first time. Proof-read meticulously. Show your resume to friends, parents and teachers. To see what you shouldn’t do, check out resumania.com.
It’s not “what’re you going to do,” it’s “what do you want to do?” Just as the resume serves as a guide to a job interview, the point soon comes when you have to take a stand on what “it” is you want to do. To make an accurate personal assessment, take a good, long, look at (1) things you enjoy (interests), (2) things you’re good at (skills), (3) personality preferences that influence who you are, and (4) some sense of your values and goals. The sooner one thinks about taking that personal inventory, the greater the odds for successful networking, job interviews, and, for that matter, job performance. AOL Workplace/Career Finder and many other sites can get you started. Knowing your interests and skills will help you evaluate industry segments while also establishing specific job targets. Your ability to articulate your “fit” within an organization (using interests, skills, and personality preferences) will give you a distinct competitive advantage in the interviewing process and the career path that follows. Finally, the more one thinks about and practices self-marketing techniques, the more likely they will make the right choice.
It’s not “who you know” that matters, rather it’s “who knows you!” When job searching, you’re networking or not working. Upwards of 80% of jobs filled today are accomplished through “relevant contacts” (aka networking), and the rest are filled via search firms/placement agencies and cold call contact. Networking is where you want to focus. How to get started? Make a list. Make lots of lists. Start with your immediate circle of contacts (people who know you best, such as friends, colleagues, alumni, college/university professors, and yes, parents). People who know you are likely to have a better understanding of your career interests, personality preferences, and overall “fit”- and they can offer ideas and referrals relevant to your goals and objectives. But you have to ask for help. To network successfully, know what field interests you.
Wrapping it up
The new world of work demands clarity in demonstrating professed skills and personal characteristics. College graduates with the ability to offer up evidence of interpersonal skills, teamwork, written and verbal communications excellence, analytical skills, leadership, and more, have the advantage. And that’s quite apart from any technical skills the person may bring to the job search process. How you package you is what’s important. You will succeed in the job search process only if you take the three swings at the plate: preparing a resume that works for you, stepping back and evaluating, honestly, your interests and skills as they relate to the workplace, and — beginning now — increasing your confidence and abilities in networking for opportunities that are right for you. Swing away and you might miss. Keep your eye on the ball and you’ll hit a home run.
For more information, contact Jim Shattuck, President, Shattuck & Associates, Greenwich, Connecticut. [email protected].