One CEO's Career Advice for New Grads

by meslayter, published 07/09/2013
It’s become widely understood that many recent college graduates are having a hard time finding a job right out of school. Unfortunately, eagerness, while a critical attribute to have, can only get you so far. The Software Advice website has been hiring like crazy recently. And as their company has grown, they’ve interviewed thousands of recent grads. To help recent graduates in their job search, their CEO, Don Fornes, recently created a list offering some of his best advice for the job-seeking recent grad.

Practice your interviewing skills.

Interviews can be stressful -- especially for a young graduate who hasn’t had many yet. Interviewing well takes practice. While you’ll likely hear a few questions off the cuff, there are a handful of questions that are asked in almost any interview. If you know that’s the case (which you do), you should come up with some solid answers to those questions when you’ve got time to carefully think them out. To make sure that you are well-prepared, you should go find a list a common interview questions and write out your answers. Then practice saying them out loud to another person, so that you sound natural. This is one of the best ways you to make sure that you give succinct and confident answers in your interviews.

Search for “foundational” roles and be able to explain why you want one.

Foundational roles will help you build a set of skills that will lead to a successful career. These are roles that require a lot of you, but give a lot back in terms of experience. No matter what industry you choose to go into, the knowledge you will gain from foundational roles can be carried with you. For instance, every job you pursue is going to require that you understand a certain level of professionalism and the way things work in an office. You have to know how to appropriately communicate with colleagues, managers and customers. These roles are often demanding, and will challenge you. But you can impress your interviewer by explaining to them that you understand this, and that want to work in this role because of it’s difficult -- not despite it.

Create an “elevator pitch” to tell your story.

You’re probably a complex, multi-faceted person. Your personal story would likely take longer than a 1-hour interview to tell. But when preparing for an interview, it’s important to pick your most valuable traits that are relevant to the position and stick to talking about those. You should also be able to explain to the hiring manager how you developed these skills, and how you would use them to meet and exceed their expectations for the role. This short summary of yourself is commonly referred to as an “elevator pitch”. To create an elevator pitch, take all the information you’ve chosen to focus on and condense it into a story that sells you as a candidate. You should be able tell this story in the time it takes to ride an elevator from your starting floor to your destination--hence the name.

Don’t be afraid to show your personality!

Of course, when interviewing, you also want to come off to your potential employer as professional and courteous. But, many young candidates get consumed by the need to be formal that they forget to show that they are human. Just as you shouldn’t be overly-casual, you shouldn’t be overly-formal, either. Hiring managers want to see that you would be an enjoyable person to work with -- so be yourself. Do you have other tips for recent college grads? Let us know in the comments below.
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