A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Q & A for New Graduates
with Sue Morem
How to Get a Job and Keep It: An Essential Guide to Landing Your Ideal Job and Making the Most of It
What’s the most important advice you have for new grads
and other job seekers?
Be willing to start at the bottom: Identify your
ideal job, but be realistic; know what you’re striving for and what you
will settle for. Some of the most successful people have risen to the
top one step at a time and you can too. Be willing—and expect to work
your way up.
Get a makeover. If you look like a student, you don’t look like the
professional you are trying to be. Invest in a great interview suit,
professional looking shoes and briefcase. Update your hairstyle, change
your make up; shave. When applying for a job, image really is
Change your email habits: Little things make a big difference.
Sending an email from ‘partygirl’ or ‘eyemhot’ to a potential employer
sends the wrong message. So does using smiley faces and other emoticons.
You may be used to writing in caps, using abbreviations and sending
messages without proofing first, but it’s a big risk when you’re trying
to impress a potential employer.
Treat looking for a job like a job. Even if you are unemployed you
have a job: Your job is to find a job. Get up, get dressed and get going
each day as you would if you were already working. This will help you
get in the right mindset. The more time you devote to your job search
the greater the likelihood you will get the results you seek.
Create a plan. You can’t get where you want if you don’t know where
you are going. Decide what you want to do and identify your ideal job,
but be realistic; know what you’re striving for and what you will settle
for. Then create an action plan. Set reasonable and realistic goals and
a time frame in which you will accomplish them
Practice interviewing. The more prepared you are the less stressful
an interview will be. Anticipate questions you are likely to be asked
and practice saying your responses. Conduct mock interviews to get
valuable feedback; better yet, watch or listen to yourself on tape.
Don’t wait until the night before the interview—practice a little bit
Be patient. “Patience is a virtue" -- especially as it relates to
finding the ideal job, or awaiting promotions and pay increases. Like
Rome, your career won't be built in a day! Everything takes time,
persistence, a game plan, a belief in oneself and the right attitude.
What are some easy, yet overlooked things job seekers
Use business cards. Create business cards to hand
out to everyone—even those you think can’t help you. Finding a job is
all about networking and the more people you involve the better. Make it
easy for others to help you, remember you, and contact you by giving
them your business card.
Request informational interviews. Informational interviews are a
great way to learn about an industry, a company, or a job. An
informational interview is not a job interview. It’s simply asking
someone in a position, industry, or company of interest to you to spend
a few minutes talking with you. It is one of the best ways to learn and
a great way to make valuable new contacts.
Get an internship. Internships are a great way to get the experience
you’re lacking. Look for opportunities to get your foot in the door and
gain experience any way you can. Although most internships are short
term, many end up leading to long-term employment and other
Ask for help. Most people are flattered, not bothered, when asked for
advice and happy to help you out. Contact relatives, neighbors, friends,
parents of friends, college alumni, etc. It’s the best way to get leads
and stay connected.
Maximize your value. You have more to offer than you realize. Even if
you lack relevant job experience you are not as inexperienced as you
think. Don’t overlook skills acquired through participation in
extracurricular activities, volunteering, and other, unrelated jobs
held. Evaluate all of your skills, accomplishments and experiences to
better communicate your value.
What can parents do to help improve their child’s
chances of finding a job?
Talk to your child about his or her concerns.
Initiate conversations; ask how you can be of help. Even children who’ve
resisted your help before may be open to it now. Looking for work can be
an isolating and frightening experience.
Share your personal experiences. Graduates are entering unfamiliar
territory and can benefit from your experience. Talk to your child about
the things you’ve learned over the years and what you would do
differently if you could.
Reinforce the importance of things not taught in school. Remind your
child about the importance of his or her appearance, professional
behavior and good manners. Go out to eat for a refresher course in table
Go shopping. Take your son or daughter shopping and help select a
great looking interview suit. Better yet, offer to pay for it. Nothing
boosts confidence more or creates a better impression than the person
who looks and feels ready for work.
Be supportive. Listen, encourage, and understand; do everything you
can to offer your encouragement and support. When possible, utilize your
own contacts and resources to help your child.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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