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New Grads: It's NOT About You!

By Harry Urschel

Many new grads pursue a job with a focus on finding a company that will…

  • "Appreciate me for who I am."
  • "Help me develop to my maximum potential."
  • "Help me explore different functions to find where I’m most fulfilled."
  • "Give me opportunities for growth when I feel I’m ready."
  • "Judge me only by what I do, and not trivial factors like how I look, or how I talk."
  • "Know that no one is perfect, and even though I might fail, people should always get another chance."
  • "Not constrict me with uniform rules or expectations, but let each person do what works best for them."
  • "Pay me what I know I’m worth."
  • "Make me excited to come to work each day."
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While it’s natural to want all these things, and more… frankly, for the most part, the company doesn’t really care!

Is it good for companies to have happy, fulfilled, employees? Of course, and most companies try to do all they can to that end. However, it’s for the purpose of facilitating an environment that will make employees as productive as they can be in order for the company to be as successful and profitable as it can for the benefit of its owners or shareholders.

Companies do not exist for the purpose of providing fulfilling career opportunities for people. They exist to provide a product or service in order to earn a profit. Providing fulfilling career opportunities is a side benefit, and not the reason for being.

So… particularly in this tough and competitive job market… what should you consider in order to land a job?

  • What does the company want?

    Ultimately, the company will hire the kind of person that they want. It’s not their responsibility to figure out what you want and offer it to you. The more you match their vision of an ideal candidate, the greater chance you have of landing the job.
  • You’re not the only one.

    When unemployment rates are high, particularly for new grads, companies have a number of people they can consider for any particular opening. You are competing with several people. The likelihood is that most of them can do the job. It will be additional factors that will make the difference in who gets the job. It’s a buyers’ market!
  • Appearance matters.

    While you may think “I gotta be me”, you are probably competing with people who present themselves in a professional way. Loud tattoos, extraordinary piercings or hairstyles, too casual, or inappropriate clothing may express the image you want to portray to the world. However, a company has every right to expect their employees to appear professional to their customers, other departments, and co-workers.

    Way outside the box appearance rarely gets rewarded. If they are interviewing multiple candidates, others in that group are likely to fit the image.
  • Communication matters.

    While it may seem like you’re being "real" by speaking very casually, using a lot of slang, emailing with texting abbreviations, or occasionally cussing, it presents a less than professional image in a work environment. Similar to appearance issues, it’s not likely to fit the professional image they are seeking, and they are probably interviewing others that do fit that image.
  • Express a willingness to do what it takes.

    While goals and ambition are good, a willingness to do the things necessary to prove yourself and achieve results before expecting more responsibility or other opportunities is important. Particularly with people early in their career, they often don’t know what they don’t know. They often expect opportunities to take the next step before they are ready, and don’t trust those who know better to decide.

    A candidate who understands that their own goals will be achieved best by learning all they can and excelling at their current responsibilities, is far more attractive than one who only wants to "move up" before they master their current role.
  • Know, and be able to articulate what you offer them.

    Often, candidates are best at expressing what they are looking for. What matters to an employer, however, is how you can solve their problems, get their work done, and help them be more productive. The better you can express what you can accomplish for them, the more attractive a candidate you become.

The more you focus on what a company wants rather than your own desires in a new employer, the greater your chances of landing a position.

Furthermore, you’re likely to find that the more you focus on accomplishing the company’s objectives throughout your career, you will much more likely accomplish your own as well. You will be given more opportunities and greater consideration when you’re viewed as someone who can achieve the company’s goals.

Bottom Line

It’s an irony that… once you realize it’s not about you, your own desires are more likely to be realized.


About the author...

Harry Urschel has over 25 years experience as an independent recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives and on Google +. He can be contacted by email at: harry@eexecutives.net