The other day I received a request from a business college student. Her school project was to connect with business professionals on a popular business networking site and solicit a piece of advice. The request was for what advice I would give to recent graduates looking for a job.
I was glad to take a moment and answer her. This is a great question that unfortunately not enough graduates, in my opinion, particularly business school graduates, ask. In turn, most employers that I have met would gladly speak at any college that would have them just to get this message across.
This is one subject that really eats on business owners who are looking for new and exciting talent to help them grow their business. Unfortunately when we’re hiring and looking for the young go-getter, the graduates who actually “get it” seem to show up few and far between.
The advice I gave was simple; just two primary thoughts.
- Understand that the world doesn’t owe you a thing. Not a thing. So when you interview you had better show me that you’re flexible; open; excited; creative; willing to begin your real life education and willing to put in the time and effort to achieve your potential. I don’t care if you were at the top of your class. That’s great, congratulations. However, you had better be ready to convince me that you’re ready to work and learn and not complain. In the real world, book knowledge alone will get you about as far as you can throw the book. You need to understand how that knowledge applies and to learn that you need to go to work, and I don’t mean just show up at work, I mean you need to go to work.
- Learn all you can about sales and marketing. Whether you believe it now or not, you are in sales, heck, everyone is in sales, everyone! I don’t care if you’re an architect; doctor or a financial analyst with an MBA, or a PhD, or both. You will need to be able to sell. You’ll maybe need to sell yourself in a job interview. You sell yourself to a prospect or customer, and you sell yourself to your boss when asking for a raise. You’ll need to sell your services to a prospect or a client. The fact is that you will need to know how to sell to some degree at many points in your career and life.
And unfortunately, most degrees do not require a student to take a sales course of any kind. In fact most colleges do not even offer, let alone require a proficiency in sales even though the skill is an essential and foundational tool to an individual’s success.
Some people will say that life after college is when your real education begins, so begin phase two with learning as much as you can about selling!
It’s that important.
Take courses, listen to cd’s and downloads, get a job selling something. You’ll not regret it.
Employers today will respect the time and effort that a recent graduate invested in their college experience, but for the most part, that’s as far as it goes. Show me that you are interested in my opportunity. Show me that you’ve done some research and know something about me and what I do. Honestly SELL me on why I should even consider you!
Now is not the time to take it easy and coast for awhile.