My Comments: This headline caught my attention. Perhaps you’ve read recently about student loans and how they can put a noose around the neck of a college graduate, a noose that stymies rational planning for years, including marriage, buying a house, doing a lot of things that I never gave a second thought to when I finished college 50 years ago.
For the past 38 years, I’ve been an entrepreneur in financial services. If I don’t work and earn a living, we don’t eat. I recently spoke with a young woman who had lost her job as a representative for a drug company. Her parents, friends of mine, asked me to talk with her.
She was now working for a local hospital, was not happy and was not making what she thought she was worth. I agreed and began a conversation with her about an opportunity with me where if she applied herself, she could find herself making more money than she was before, setting her own hours, and being responsible only to herself and her clients.
Among the first words out of her mouth was what would be her salary and what benefits would I provide. Needless to say, I didn’t offer her a position in my company. By the way, the image below is of a Bentley with a descriptive license tag.
Simply having a college degree will not get you hired. We need to break away from this idea. In all reality, most employers could care less about your GPA or where you went to school.
Today, getting hired in entry-level positions requires experience and fine-tuned skills, not a 4.0 GPA. This probably isn’t what most new grads want to hear, but it’s the truth.
Many new college graduates enter their job search with a why-wouldn’t-someone-hire-me mindset. But most employers aren’t going to take on an entry-level hire unless they’re certain they’ll positively impact the company.
So the real question for new graduates to consider is this: What can you bring to the table that makes you worth hiring?
Here’s some food for thought for those entering the workforce:
1. Your degree isn’t a golden ticket. We need to put an end to the “silver spoon complex.” Simply obtaining a degree may only help you out if you’re planning to go the corporate route, where companies have more time and money to invest in training programs. But at my company, I don’t even know which of my employees has a degree or not–it makes no difference to me. I care more about the impact my employees have on my company.
I’d much rather hire someone who has been freelancing as a web developer for three years than someone who has a master’s degree in computer science. They’re bound to be more passionate, driven, and profitable in the long run, as they know what it takes to impact the bottom line.
2. It’s all about experience. I started my company Ciplex when I was 17. Throughout college I ran my business on the side, in addition to working in my college IT department. Today, undertaking one internship isn’t enough to prove your experience to employers. The reason so many college graduates can’t find work is because they lack experience.
One simple way to get more experience within your industry is by taking on freelance work and contracting gigs. These types of experiences will help you learn and grow while developing a sense of independence, responsibility, and drive. All of these traits are highly attractive to employers.
3. Passion will help you succeed. If you’re just looking to get hired anywhere, employers will be able to tell. I get emails all the time from job seekers who are just looking to get hired and don’t indicate any passion for their work or my company.
Passion will get you hired. Experience is one way to showcase this, but you also have to learn to properly articulate it on your cover letter, resume, and during networking. If you use the same cover letter for every employer, do you really think you’re conveying your passion for the position you’re applying for? Remember, it’s not just about looking for a job. Employers want employees who are truly passionate about what they do and have a vision to benefit the company.
4. Companies hire the person who is certain to cause the most positive impact. Before you apply to your next job opening, ask yourself the following: What can you do for the company? How can you turn a profit? If you aren’t able to answer these questions, then don’t apply. Employers–especially small businesses and startups–are only interested in hiring someone who is going to positively impact their company.
When I review emails from job seekers, it’s very easy to tell who’s just looking to get hired and who’s actually going to impact my company. Make the effort to prove to employers you’re worth hiring.
5. Go the extra mile. Success doesn’t come to those who wait. You have to give everything you do your all … even if it means working late or on the weekends. Some people describe this as paying your dues, but it’s really just putting in the effort required to make an impact.
What do you wish someone would have told you when you graduated college?