It’s not hard to believe that the job landscape is changing. With millennials graduating from high school and college in droves, there’s a new group flocking to the workforce, competing for jobs, and dreaming about their futures.
If you have graduated recently from high school or college and are attempting to enter the work force, here are a few tips for how to make yourself stand out from your competition.
1. Make a good first impression.
First impressions are quick, ruthless, and easy to mess up.
They’re comprised of a series of small cues—mostly non-verbal, that amount to a hard- to-change impression. Think about your handshake. Is it soft and meek or strong and confident? Something as small as a handshake gives your potential employer an impression of who you are as a person and what you can offer to their team.
So how do you stand out from the crowd when you’re looking for a job?
Make a stellar first impression.
Choose your clothing, your facial expression, your eye contact, and your handshake intentionally. Make sure they communicate what you want to say about yourself. The first impression you make with a potential employer can make or break you—but the good news is those small details are easy things to work on and improve.
2. Plant seeds before you’re hungry.
Any smart farmer knows, if you want to eat from your crop, you have to plant it well before you’re hungry. Growth takes time, and that’s an important concept to remember when applying for jobs.
Applying for jobs is not a quick endeavor, and beginning after graduation is the recipe for living in your parent’s basement for the next six months. Begin now—make connections, get experience, and apply to jobs in your chosen field.
You (and your parents) will be glad you did.
3. Make connections.
It’s human nature to help out and even hire people we know. Far more jobs come through connections than from submitting a resume online.
If you want the leg up that comes with connections, you’re going to have to make some.
Get out of your comfort zone. Attend a conference, or a seminar, or even a networking event. Get to know the people in the field you’re hoping to get into. But be genuine about it. Nobody’s going to help you if you’re treating them like your all-access ticket to success. Make the connection, follow up, and humbly mention that you’re looking for a job if they happen to hear of something.
You’ll be surprised at how far those connections will take you.
4. Be about the company’s objective, not your own.
Passion, freedom, and autonomy are some of millennials’ chief desires as they’re looking for work. But, not surprisingly, companies aren’t jumping at the chance to pay millennials to do whatever they want.
When you’re applying for jobs, figure out what the company’s chief concern is.
Find out what keeps your potential boss up late at night, what problems they’re working to solve. Then, position yourself as the person who can help alleviate that problem. Being about the company’s agenda instead of your own is a key ingredient to being chosen for the job.
5. Be willing to start at the bottom.
Millennials are an ambitious bunch and have a hard time accepting jobs lower than what they think they should have or what they want. But unfortunately, those jobs are often what’s offered right out of the gate, and potential employers will be turned off by what they perceive to be entitlement or a lack of desire to work hard.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, be willing to accept and dive into any job you’re given. Accept learning opportunities with humility, and never consider yourself better than a job.
Be about someone else’s objectives, throw yourself into the service of that person’s dream, and learn all you can along the way. That will position you much better for your own dreams one day and is a much more effective way of getting hired today.
The work force is a tough place for anyone, especially if you’re just beginning. But be humble, accept that your road to success may take more stops than you’ve previously imagined, and learn all you can along the way.