How to not Embarrass Yourself and Land Your first Job

By Ryan Drummond

Finding your first job is like training for the playoffs. In order to get to the big game, you have to put in the work. In your job hunt you may not be able to choose who says “You’re hired,” but there are a number of habits you can integrate into your daily routine that will help you identify opportunities, become acquainted with employers and ultimately perform better in an interview. The more you train, the better your chances are at winning over that campus recruiter or hiring manager.

The number-one thing you can do to gain respect is to sound respectable. If you have a general idea of what type of business or job interests you, take the time to do a little research about it. I’m always surprised when I ask a student “What do you want do after school?” and I hear “Go into business.” That’s like saying you want to be a human. Nobody expects you to have it all figured out; however, to be unable to list a couple specific areas of interest is unacceptable in a time when information is so easy to find.

First, take the time to learn the lingo. You might be thinking, “With sports, homework and classes, I just don’t have the time.” I bet you do, though. What are you doing right before bed? What are you doing while eating breakfast or while you’re walking to and from class? I bet you can identify dead time in your daily schedule that you can use to expand your vocabulary in your area of interest.

One great way to do this is to trade in your music for a podcast or two. If you have a smart phone, download Stitcher or Sound Cloud. With these podcast apps, you can search the largest online libraries of free audio content. You can find professional interviews and content on virtually any topic or industry. If you want to work in finance, listen to The Wall Street Journal This Morning, Bloomberg Radio or Freakonomics. If you’re interested in a career that involves e-commerce, listen to Ecommerce Fuel. Fancy entrepreneurship? Then check out Mixergy by Andrew Warner. Want to build your own business on the side? See Pat Flint’s Smart Passive Income. Want to learn about investing? Then subscribe to The Motley Fool. My point is that you need to be identifying career interests and then absorbing information in that space, so that you can develop an ear for that industry’s lingo and eventually develop your own perspective. This will help you “talk the talk” and as a result earn the respect of the people with hiring power.
Once you have spent some time educating yourself, the next step is to meet the people who work in the field. If you have not yet done so, create a LinkedIn account. At the top of your LinkedIn page find “Connections” in the navigation bar. Under “Connections,” select “Find Alumni” and make sure that your college or university is selected.

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A lot of profiles will appear, but don’t be overwhelmed; you can filter your results by industry, what they studied, what skills they have, where they work, etc. Budget ten to twenty minutes a few times a week to identify and make a list of alumni that are working in areas that you find interesting.

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Before you introduce yourself to someone, research their professional background. Find out what they do and what their company does, using whatever resources are available to you. I strongly recommend using Evernote to track your contacts, notes, links and even videos. Evernote is another mobile and web application that you can download. With Evernote you can store all of your content virtually and can use it across all devices. Using Evernote’s “tags” will allow you to easily search through old notes and content.

 

The last step is knowing how to make that first introduction to an alumni or employer. When introducing yourself, be brief, find the common ground and conclude with one question, so that you can increase your chances of a response.