5 life lessons you learned in college that will actually help your career
Hello, real world.
“When am I ever going to use this?” You’ve definitely asked yourself this age-old question one too many times at school—much to your professors’ (and parents’) chagrin. From the ins and outs of calculus derivatives to the historical timeline of the War of 1812, it seems like half of what you learned in school didn't exactly qualify as life lessons that'll affect your future.
While you may be right in thinking that not everything you learn will directly apply to your future job, you’ve certainly some acquired some intangibles that’ll only boost your job search game.
We spoke with career expert Jane Miller, founder of JaneKnows.com, to lay out five important life lessons from the classroom you won’t want to forget during your job search (and throughout your career).
The temptation of technology will always be just a tap away
The Internet is like a little devil on your shoulder, constantly trying to lure you away from whatever assignment you are working on. Sadly, checking your social media platforms, watching viral videos, and reading up on entertainment news won’t advance your job search, so do your best to keep browsing to a minimum when you should be focusing on submitting applications.
“If you can’t resist the urge, research companies that you are interested in for a short break,” says Miller. “Reading this info will make you better informed for when you fill out applications or attend an interview.”
The importance of time management will never diminish
Although you may have been able to get away with handing in a few late college papers here and there, deadlines are 100% firm in the job search. And this time, the person giving you an “incomplete” is you. The more you slack on sending in applications and resumes, the less likely you are ever to land a job.
So how do you ensure you’re on top of your game and submit everything on time? Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
“Set weekly and daily goals for yourself,” says Miller. “For example, today I will research five companies, write two cover letters and schedule one networking coffee. Not only will all of this organization help you stay on track, but by knocking these tasks off your list every week, you will gain a strong sense of accomplishment that will build your confidence.”
Failure and rejection will happen
As far as life lessons go, you've probably already experienced this one: You won't always succeed. You aren’t going to land every position you apply for, and unfortunately, the company may never give you feedback to help you understand its decision. So, it’s up to you to self-evaluate what happened and what you can do to improve for the next go around.
Think back to a time when you received a poor grade on a test. Why? Did you not study enough? Maybe you studied the wrong material? Or did you simply not understand the information? The job search is no different. Analyzing every rejection can provide critical insights that will help you with future applications.
“If you were rejected at the resume stage, have someone else look at your resume to evaluate whether you are getting your key points across,” says Miller. “If you were rejected after an in-person interview, think about how you came across. Nervous? Unprepared? Low energy? Put together a plan on what you would do differently next time.”
Don’t forget about your mental health
Feeling jobless can sometimes dominate all aspects of your life. Every waking second of the day, you feel as though you should be doing one thing or another that will help you land that position. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Rather than leaving the whole day wide open to work on applications, limit yourself to a window of time where you are absolutely committed to getting specific tasks done. That way you can ensure other aspects of your life don’t fall to the wayside, such as getting enough sleep and eating healthy.
“Make sure you are exercising, hanging out with friends and still doing activities you love during this process,” says Miller, “It is harder to cope with the agony of time if the job search is all you are thinking about. Plus, it takes a toll, mentally and physically.”
Communication skills are key
Remember the first day of college when you had to introduce yourself to dozens of strangers, some of whom became your close friends? That’s kind of what the job search process is like: pitching yourself to a handful of potential employers, searching for the one that is going to be a successful match.
To give off the best possible impression, you’re going to want to perfect both your written and oral communication skills. When it comes to crafting emails, resumes, and cover letters, Miller says, “Be concise. Don’t use colloquialisms. Remember that your cover letter and resume are providing an overview of you without actually meeting you, so you want to carry a strong presence.”
Speaking of writing skills, you will definitely score big points with hiring managers if your resume doesn't look like the result of an overnight cram session. Those days are long gone. Your resume is a valuable piece of self-promotion that you have to put some thought into. Could you use some help with that? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. It's a quick and easy way you can prove that your college education was actually worth something.