Young adults go to college for different reasons and do it in different ways. Some go for social reasons, some to satisfy their parents expectations, others for the challenge, but most students see college as a way to obtain their employment objectives. They go through college in ways they believe will help them achieve those goals. Importantly, students interested in launching their careers can improve their outcomes by better understanding their target employers, how they think and what they expect of college graduates.
Wise students understand that they earn employment success, one semester at a time, as they go through college. They know that good jobs won’t just fall into their laps; so, they are willing to work hard and smart.
Employers have needs and expectations for each job opening. To help them choose the best candidates, employers will want to see and hear how well each applicant has performed and what they have accomplished both within and outside of the classroom.
Seniors and recent grads must understand that they will be competing against other qualified candidates. That’s why it is important for beginning students to develop and follow an employment plan that gives them the knowledge, experience and successes that will interest and impress their target employers.
With that in mind, first and second year students may want to think about the following questions:
1. Have they identified their field of interest?
2. Will they devote the time, thought and research needed to develop a step-by-step employment plan?
3. Does their plan involve the identification of target jobs and target employers?
4. Have they chosen the best major, minor and electives for their employment goals?
5. Will they research their target employer needs and expectations for the jobs that are of interest to them?
6. Will they immediately begin to incorporate those employer needs and expectations into their on-campus and off-campus activities?
7. Does their plan involve gaining some job-related work experience before they graduate?
8. Does their plan require them to build relationships with potential references in their field of interest? (Professors, Employers, Alumni and Others who work in their field of interest)
9. Does their plan require them to build a list of successes and accomplishments in their field of interest?
In the job market, average students can often outperform students with better grades by doing the things that allow employers to see their potential. Of course grades are important to employers; but, grades are only one aspect of student potential and are not always good predictors of success on the job.
Few jobs require only intellect. Most good jobs require employees to recognize needs, make decisions, take action, get things done, deal with multiple and difficult tasks, overcome obstacles, collaborate with and build relationships with others and contribute to the success of the organization. When job applicants can provide stories and examples of their successes and accomplishments both within and beyond the classroom, they will stand out from the competition.
Employers love to talk with references who have first-hand knowledge of the student’s attitude, personality, work ethic, experience, knowledge, skills, performance and accomplishments. What those references say will always influence the employment decision one way or another. Therefore, college students must constantly look for ways to demonstrate the desirable performance and outcomes that are wanted and needed by their target employers.
When it comes to job offers, the way students go through college matters. And so, the question becomes, How will you go through college?
Bob Roth, a former campus recruiter, is the author of five books, including: OMG, The Things I Learned In College, A Successful Senior Year Job Search Begins In The Freshman Year. Known as The “College & Career Success” Coach, Bob writes articles for Career Services Offices, Campus Newspapers, Parent Associations and Employment Web Sites. Bob has created The Job Search Preparation System™ for colleges to use to help students find greater success in the job market.