Your education is a wise investment and it will pay dividends for a lifetime. It opens doors to career opportunities that would otherwise be closed. And good grades show employers that you’re serious about your career and are willing to work hard to get ahead.
But wait — the picture isn’t complete. When you start applying for jobs there will be other candidates who have also worked hard. The competition is tough and you will need more than good grades to get hired. So, what will separate you from the competition?
As a professional recruiter, I used to look for the best, not the average, student. The basic criterion was a 3.0 grade point average (GPA). Then I looked for those special qualities that turn good students into great employees. So, what are those “special qualities” employers are always looking for?
Students often ask me, “Do those extracurricular activities really make a difference?” Yes, they do! Employers are looking for people who will take the initiative to improve their business. It’s not enough to simply meet the minimum requirements of your job. They’re looking for people who can make a difference. People who reach out and invest their time and energy in extracurricular activities often have the right attitude employers are looking for.
A team player
Employers are looking for people who have the ability to work on a team in order to achieve excellent results. You need to be confident, but not overbearing. You need to listen and offer your opinion in a constructive fashion. Don’t just tell me you can do this — you need to show me (with specific examples) of how you have collaborated with other people to achieve excellent results.
There’s an old adage that what you’ve done will get you the job interview, but who you are will get you hired. Employers are looking for people who bring a positive attitude to work. Have you ever seen a “No whining zone” sign? You need to convince your future employer that you are someone who brings a positive attitude to the workplace. We’re looking for problem solvers, not complainers.
During an interview, you need to share real life examples of how you have addressed a potential problem and made things better. In what ways have you made a difference? To make a difference, you need to be engaged in the community. In what ways are you engaged in your academic and personal community?
Remember, your interviewing skills will make a big difference when it comes to landing that job. Knowing this, you should invest significant effort into learning how to improve your interviewing skills.
Organizations continue to make most hiring decisions based on a one-hour job interview, so be prepared to put your best foot forward.
There are a lot of quality resources to help you prepare for professional success, including NextStepU.com and Next Step Academy (www.NextStepAcademy.com). Sure, you need a professional resumé, but you must also be prepared to provide real life examples of who you are and why you will make a great employee. What you’ve done outside of the classroom and your ability to share those experiences in the job interview is what will separate you from your competition.
Bill Kaminski is a longtime human resources professional and author of “Conversations for Success: How to Master the Art of Interviewing.” Learn more at StoneAssociates.biz.