It should not come as a surprise to college students that good jobs do not just fall into someone’s lap. The students who receive the best job offers have earned them. Therefore, it is important to understand that the term “earned” means that the student’s performance has been consistently good throughout the college years. It does not mean a last minute flurry of improved performance near the end of the senior year.
Employers look for the students who meet their needs, wants and expectations. To give themselves the best chance for landing a good job in their areas of interest, students must find out what their target employers want and give it to them. That’s why wise students conduct some serious research early in their sophomore year. They select a career direction, identify jobs that are of interest, gather information about the employers that have those jobs and pin down exactly what those employers expect to see in the candidates for those jobs. In that way, interested students will have four or five semesters to do the things that their target employers want. If all of that sounds like a lot of work, it is. But that is just the beginning.
When students understand what their target employers want and work hard to meet or exceed those expectations, they put themselves in position to compete for and win the best jobs. Furthermore, when students excel in one of those areas or go beyond employer expectations, they will clearly set themselves apart from ordinary students. Being able to stand out in a positive way will always lead to more and better job offers.
Some students think that good grades are all they will need. That is no longer true for most employers. Obviously, doing well in the classroom is a good first step. However, the best employers look for more. They look for students who have a proven track record in a number of important areas: Experience, Creativity, Problem Solving, Sales, Teamwork and more. Every employer wants employees who can get things done no matter what problems they face. They love students with job-related work experience who have already shown what they can do.
Each college experience presents students with an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. The best jobs are earned by students who work, participate, lead and succeed in demonstrating an array of skills and capabilities. Job hunting is a competition that is won by students who use their college years to accumulate a list of accomplishments and successes.
If students graduate without a good job, they should look back to the things they didn’t do:
- The Advice they didn’t follow
- The Job Hunting Information they didn’t obtain or utilize
- The Activities in which they didn’t participate
- The Research they didn't conduct
- The Grades they didn’t achieve
- The Accomplishments they didn’t produce
- The Job Hunting Systems and Techniques they didn’t learn
- The Career Services Counselors they didn’t visit
- The Work Experience they didn’t obtain
- The People they didn’t meet
- The Employment Training Sessions they didn’t attend
- The Network of Contacts they didn’t build
- The Professors they didn’t impress
- The References they didn’t get to know
- The Interviewing Skills they didn’t practice
- The Employment Web Sites they didn’t identify
- The Effort they didn’t put into Job Search Preparation Activities
- The Time They Wasted during the years prior to graduation
If a student fails to demonstrate his or her capabilities with a good job as the goal, why should an employer have any interest? With few exceptions, it is the student’s decisions and performance throughout the college years that will determine whether he or she will land a job that starts at $25,000, $35,000, $45,000, $55,000, $65,000 or more.
All students make choices, as they move through college. With each choice that satisfies an employer need, the student moves closer to employment success. It is one thing to graduate with a degree. It is quite a different thing to have impressed an employer with a variety of performances that make it clear that the student can contribute to the success of the employer’s organization.
Job search preparation is not brain surgery. It is just hard work. A lot of it. The best employers look for students who have anticipated their needs and were willing to tackle the activities that lead to success on the job.