In most cases, people get a university degree in hopes of getting a job in their desired field. That’s the ultimate goal. Finding a job, making lots of dollars, and being happy for the rest of your life. But how do you get your foot in the door? How do you start your climb on the proverbial career ladder?
The Real World Placement Program (RWPP) recently had their mid-year networking event. It gave its members a chance to mingle and make connections with potential employers. Employer attendees included representatives from The United Nations Association, Arnotts, LinkedIn, and many other local and national businesses.
After making my way around the room, getting into conversations and listening to the speeches given by company reps, I found that there are 3 key elements that make for an attractive employee.
Step 1: BUILD YOUR BRAND
We are products. Let’s say we’re a packet of chips. We have to make sure our packaging stands out from the rest.
First impressions make an impact, and presentation, personality and presence (both online and in person) need to be immaculate.
No one will ever choose a packet of chips on the shelf that’s already been opened, looks like its been dropped on the floor and possibly stepped on. People want the fresh, new, crisp looking packet of chips. Be fresh. Be Crisp.
Then comes the contents of the packet of chips. What’s on your nutritional information panel? This comes down to skills and experience. One of the reps at the event said that even if you don’t have much experience, you could always put a positive spin on things. Don’t point out your flaws, accentuate your strengths. Your chip packet would never say that you’re full of salt, you’d say you’re 99% fat free! But make sure you’re careful not to compromise honesty.
Step 2: DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF
What makes you different? Why would an employer pick you over other potential candidates?
One bit of repeated advice I got was to not solely rely on the merits of my degree alone. Yes, GPA is important, but don’t put all your focus into to that and ignore your resume builders. The best way to do this is through work experience, and the RWPP provides a great platform for you to dive into the working world.
But the age-old question is: If I can’t get a job to gain experience, how do I get experience to get a job?
The answer is involvement. Whether that be in clubs and associations around campus, volunteer work for non-for profit organisations, unpaid internships, or group projects. These are the things the employers say they’re looking for.
Step 3: MAKE CONNECTIONS
Networking is a skill that takes practice, but one that will help you get to where you want to be. Go to as many events as you possibly can, whether they be held by clubs and associations you’re part of, or programs such as RWPP. Even if you’re a first year and haven’t even thought about the job you’re after. Go. Practice makes perfect, and by the time you’re actively looking for a place with these employers, you’ll be working the room.
Good people know good people, so get to know good people. And don’t be afraid to venture outside of your discipline. That proverbial ladder has turned into a jungle gym, and taking a different avenue may ultimately bring you to where you want to be, or even help you discover that you actually like the monkey bars more than the slide.
For more information about joining the Real World Placement Program, click here.