Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked to over 100 college students about their careers. Most of them – despite a slightly better economy and for reasons we all understand – remain scared to death about their pending entrance into the workforce.
During these conversations, it became clear that the anxiety isn’t because they’re afraid to enter “the real world” …but aren’t prepared, yet, to enter the workforce. They simply lack the mindset necessary to make the leap from graduate to professional.
Here are the top four reasons why recruiters may perceive you as unemployable – and how, by deliberately focusing on each, you can turn these barriers into assets:
1. Confidence is King
“I am way more qualified than my peers. And smarter. But they have job offers, and I don’t. Why?” (said sheepishly with little or no eye contact and with slumped shoulders).
Recruiters have always been reluctant to hire those who fail to exude confidence; since the beginning of time recruiters have been measured by their ability to hire leaders and difference-makers. For candidates in our new economy, any failure to show sincere self-assurance – and the desire to compete at a high level – is death to their application.
The good news: you have the rest of your college career to gain the experience and prepare the skills necessary to overcome this issue.
Start now. Develop a dynamic, affable, confident job search style. Or, regardless of your talent or smarts, keep wondering why you are always the last kid picked for kickball at recess.
2. The Best Strategy is Rarely the Easiest
“I’ve submitted 275 applications on www.BigJobBoard.com… and haven’t received a single call-back.”
After hearing this same story over and over again for almost five years now… why do we still think this approach is an effective job search strategy?
Here’s my theory:
- Job boards are easy
- Networking (especially for us introverts) and research are hard work
- Human nature dictates we try “easy” first – no matter how ineffective and frustrating the end result
Ask millions of your unemployed or underemployed friends: easy doesn’t work.
3. The “Catch-22”
“I’m only a college student – but employers want me to have all this experience. But if no one will hire me, how do I get the experience.”
With no internships or volunteer positions on your resume – and without the development of soft skills through campus activities, clubs, fraternities or sororities, and much more – of course many recruiters looking for a “can do the job, right now” candidate – are going to pass you over. Even those with a 4.0 GPA counting on their academic excellence to carry them into the workforce are likely to soon face a cold hard fact: in many industries, your job seeking competition with a 3.1 GPA – the confident networkers with significant hands-on experience and abundant soft skills – is going to kick your butt in the real world.
Simply put, there is No Excuse for No Experience.
4. Failure to Learn
“I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I can’t get a job offer.”
I DO know what you are doing wrong… you are not making enough effort to learn what you’re doing wrong!
Every draft of a wholly customized cover letter and resume, every application, every phone/Skype interview and every single face-to-face meeting is a golden chance to discover what worked very well, what part of the process you can improve a bit – and perhaps what went horribly wrong.
Self-analyze your job search strengths and weaknesses. Discuss the process with a mentor. Ask for feedback from the recruiters you meet during your job search and while networking. Otherwise, you’ve just wasted a golden opportunity to learn – and improve.
Are any of these four barriers of entry stopping you from being seen as ready-to-be-hired?
More important: between now and graduation, how will you make yourself more employable?
About the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.
Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors,” HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and CareerBliss’ “Top 10 Gen Y Career Experts.” Mark is currently working on two new books: “A World Gone Social: How Business Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM, June 2014) with Ted Coine and “The Ultimate Guide to Internships (And Making Your College Years Matter Again)” (Allworth, September 2014). Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!