I am scheduled to give a brief speech this evening at a graduation ceremony. No doubt that when I near the podium, the words coming out of my mouth will vary from what is written but the following is a start. Let me know what you think and I’ll let you know how it went.
Last month the US reported 12.5 million people filed for unemployment; soon we will have reached an 8% unemployment rate and it’s estimated to hit 11% by the end of the year. And here you are, transitioning from college to career in an era of unprecedented difficulties with (for many) limited practical work experience. Instinctually, one has a gut reaction to perform a Rip Van Winkle episode until the world ceases to spin too fast and apparently without compassion. Today, instinct is not the answer.
As a business owner, career coach, professional writer, and publisher, I have the opportunity to speak with executives, entry-level employees, and students from all industries, locations, and aspirations. Not surprisingly, feelings of uncertainty are global and do not discriminate on the basis of education, experience, or skill level. At this point, most are asking: with so many people more skilled, more experienced, and with so many possessing higher college degrees, how can I rise above the crowd?
I’ve found common threads which will elevate even the modest candidate over the ones who, on paper, blow the competition away. Most have heard it all before, in one form or another; but I believe this is the perfect forum to revisit career management tools and the effect they have on hiring executives.
Presentation is paramount to success. Throw in the concept of effective branding and doors will open. Think of chip power and most will think of Doritos brand chips…not because they are the best on the market but because we have bought into the “fact’ they are the best on the market. There’s something about the color, the commercial, and the merchandizing which elevates this chip from others. What is your brand? How do you differentiate yourself?
Foundation builds the frame. Ever ask yourself why an employer requires candidates to possess a college degree? When I was a VP of the largest career management corporation in America, I insisted all applicants be filtered out if they did not have a minimum of a two-year degree. I was not interested in the major field of study; that was irrelevant. What was relevant was the ability for the candidate to make a commitment and follow it through to completion.
Reach beyond problems to grasp solutions. That proverbial “monkey wrench” is everywhere and at all times present. The value of your education can not be understated. Education trains each student to objectively evaluate situations, develop tasks, sets actions in place, and it creates effective results. Apply those skills to evaluate your career prospects. Let me tell you a secret about career development: its common sense. It only seems difficult because we either fail to analyze it — we assume it’s too complex, or because we don’t know what questions to ask… with a little effort, however, and the quality education you’ve gained here, this nutshell will open to your understanding the same way your studies here were opened to you. Job hunting has changed, some of the process may go against your “likes” and “comforts,” but the reward is worth it.
Fifty million families will be directly affected by global unemployment by the end of this year. And now you are eagerly anticipating your turn at bat. The career management tools learnt over the past few years is more than a piece of paper…it’s what hiring managers ARE looking for.
Leading to the question: “what do you offer that hiring managers want?” Feel confident in knowing you have a distinct advantage over the vast majority of the competition.
- Your Department of Career Services is your active advocate.
- The curriculum at XXXXXXXXX is designed to make you think, not just do…encouraging problem resolution skills.
- Most students here have taken XXXXXXX, highlighting your professional presentation and document development; only a small handful of colleges offer such a course.
Obtaining your degree shows the hiring manager you are committed, you possess the drive and ability to complete a project no matter the obstacles, and you have the knowledge to get the job done.
Take what you’ve gained over the past few years. Hiring managers WANT to hire you, that’s their job. Show them you’re not scared of presenting yourself as an asset and in a professional manner, you’re not scared of building stronger and more effective systems for yourself and for the company, and you’re not scared of reaching beyond minimal expectations or resolving issues creatively.
Does a degree automatically mean you have a distinct advantage? I believe it does and many employers feel the same way. For those offering excuses you don’t have experience to compete, think again, not one hiring manager I have spoken to during the past year filtered candidates based solely on that criteria. Besides, with the world changing so rapidly, does it really matter where one worked five years ago?
The rest is up to you, belong to the Rip Van Winkle’s of the world and wake up in a few years hoping it’s a better place or make the world a better place, today. You made a wise choice attending XXXXXXX. I know you’ll make the wise choice now.
Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: http://www.careersi.com