It’s that time of the year again when instead of competing for the highest GPA grads are vying for a seat at the boardroom table.
I had the pleasure of speaking with my nephew who is a second-year student in a Business/Marketing program and well poised academically to begin his professional career. The question he was concerned with is how to figure out what jobs he should focus on and how he should look for work when he graduates. On the one hand, I am incredibly proud of him for being so proactive in already thinking ahead to competitively position himself as he considers next year’s courses by carefully considering what summer jobs will best highlight his skills and ability to help him live his dreams. On the other hand, I am struck with the focus that my nephew, like many new grads, is grappling with – grades, being the top in their class, and showcasing their smarts through their marks. Don’t get me wrong, the results you get in school are very important and demonstrate a level of cognitive skill in a well-rounded program that conveys a thorough understanding of your area of study, but it is simply not enough.
To stand out in today’s uber-competitive environment, to connect with an employer who has a gap to fill in their team, to really be successful and kick ass on your interview, you need to put all the pieces together. You are more than your marks, more than your GPA, and more than the one-page resume that outlines some school names and unrelated summer positions like bartender, camp counsellor, retail specialist, or chip stand worker. What makes you, YOU? IT’s not all about the jobs you’ve held during your student career, it’s how collectively they drive, challenge and inspire you. Each situation has drawn something different out of you – something that goes far deeper than your ability to analyse data or research information for an essay.
As I said to my nephew, it is not simply enough to call attention to your academic accolades, it is imperative that you connect with the person sitting across the table from you in the interview so they feel your presence, so they want to continue engaging with you, and so you can demonstrate the value you will bring to the team and the organisation. Yes, it may just be a “job” you are looking for out of school, but don’t sell yourself short. Market yourself like any good company markets its products and services – to appeal to the emotional connection of the market they are targeting. This only happens if you connect your passion and enthusiasm with your drive, your integrity, your know-how, and your talents.
Here are four tips to help you ace your next interview.
Do your homework
Do your research on the company it doesn’t hurt to know a little more than that they’re hiring, this exercise will help you see if it’s a company you feel you’ll be a good “fit” for and prepare you for a meaningful conversation.
As a new or soon to be grad, no one is expecting you to be the bee’s knees of networking. But as you begin interviewing for positions, ask who you’ll be meeting with and who the position will reports to and be sure to connect with people before (and after) your interview.
Get in the know
Demonstrate a level of knowledge that says you invested the time just as they are investing the time to interview you. (see do your homework)
Be interesting and be interested, by showing your uniqueness and highlighting your aspirations as well as your achievements it’ll be clear why and how company X is the place where you’d like to make an impact.
Whether you are just starting your career search and baffled by the sea of choices, saddened by the constant rejection, you must consider the words of leadership guru Marshall Goldsmith, “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There,” and look beyond the words on your resume or the marks on your transcript because if you don’t, who will?