Admittedly that headline may seem a little harsh, but it’s meant to be and also highlights a common stumbling point many recent graduates face. Coming out of college, students are often over-confident as to their abilities and skills, especially in the professional world. Many may read this and think: “But I took the highest level finance class and got an A! My teacher’s class had a wait list and he’s published in the NY Times! My term paper alone should be enough to get me into any job I want!”
While all of these things are impressive on their own, limited previous success or an abundance of confidence doesn’t guarantee that a hiring manager will pick you for the job, or more importantly, that you will develop the skills necessary to thrive at it.
While previous academic success can be an indicator of a student’s work ethic and intellectual prowess, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day these factors may not even be the most important to a hiring manager. Various other components of a candidate's profile ultimately help push the candidate over the edge from unemployed to employed.
Hiring managers often speak of one of the most important factors in the hiring process as getting a feel as to the candidate’s demeanor and attitude, specifically in relation to the company culture. Candidates that walk in the door feeling they deserve the job or unable to understand the company culture and where they fit into it in their entry-level position often times lose out to those that don’t think they deserve anything other than a chance.
Often the false bravado that comes from being a big fish in a small pond, e.g. college life, can blind job seekers as to their true worth as a candidate; not that they already know everything and deserve whatever they want, but that they are young, impressionable and a treasure for a skilled manager to mold into a valuable asset. Many college graduates can often mistake their personal or social successes during college as experiences that qualify them for a position or a better title or salary without realizing just how far they have to go in their professional careers.
The best thing you can do as a college graduate is to accept and to realize just how far you still have to go. Realize that you don’t deserve anything, but rather that each chance is a fantastic opportunity that isn’t guaranteed. Taking this approach helps to ensure that opportunities won’t be taken for granted, and instead should help you to learn, grow, network and develop as a professional.
Perhaps it was summarized best by Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious BIG, when he said: “Just stay busy, stay working…The key to this joint, the key to staying on top of things, is treat everything like it's your first project. Like it's your first day like back when you was an intern, like, that's how you try to treat things. Just stay hungry.”
Remember where you came from and where you want to go, stay hungry and never stop trying to learn. Staying humble in your job search and understanding where you fit into company culture can take you a long way during the all-important initial stages of your search where the majority of candidates are cut. Remember that each opportunity is precious and not to be wasted, only then will you be able to say that the job you’ve dreamed of is something you truly deserve.
Sean Little | Elite.
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