The Number One Thing that College Graduates Need to Know

Written By Terrence Seamon

I heard recently the distressing news that one out of every two recent college graduates is unemployed or underemployed and struggling to get started in their chosen career field.

As the parent of two college graduates (from Rutgers University in New Brunswick), I have some ideas.

Clarify your Objective: What are you looking to do? Is it finance? marketing? nursing? IT? Having a very clear objective is a must! With a clear objective, you can be highly focused in your search. Without one, you will flounder.

Write down your Experiences and Accomplishments: What have you accomplished? What personal projects, part-time work, work study, volunteer, and internship experiences do you have? The competition is heavy out there. You have to portray your capabilities and differentiate yourself.

Determine your Value Proposition: Ultimately each person who is in transition has to answer the Big Question of employers: Why should I hire you? How would you answer that question? Can you connect the dots between your skills and talents and the employer’s needs?

Drive: One of the characteristics I have seen that seems to be key to landing a job is something I’ll call Drive. My father called it “moxie.” It’s opposite would be “Waiting for the phone to ring.” Drive is not being afraid to toot your own horn. Drive is get up-and go. It’s gumption, nerve, chutzpah. And it’s not taking “no” for an answer.

Ask for Help: Don’t try to do this alone. The job search process has gotten much more complex. The role of technology has grown. The good news is that there are lots of resources out there.

And perhaps the most important thing of all:

Leverage your Network: How well are you utilizing your network of contacts? You have lots of contacts: family, friends, neighbors, professors, college administrators, internship and work study connections, etc. Are you reaching out to them, sharing your Objective with them, asking them for advice and referrals?

Oh and one more thing.

Help Others: Be sure to help others along the way. Why? because they will help you in return. It’s reciprocity. And it’s a beautiful thing.

About the author: Terrence “Terry” Seamon is senior consultant at Smart Moves Coaching, as well as the co-moderator of the St. Matthias Employment Ministry in Somerset, NJ, a central New Jersey job hunters support group.