Dear Coach Joan,
I’ll be graduating from college later this year and I’ve already had several job rejections. I was even rejected from a low paying internship for which I was definitely qualified for. The career counselor at my college said that my resume and Linkedin profile look good, and I am bringing a solid academic record with good grades, and several positive recommendations from my professors. I am wondering what I might be doing wrong and how I might become a more competitive job candidate.
Congratulations on your upcoming college graduation. It is quite an achievement to go all the way to completion as many students drop out along the way. Bravo!
You are very smart to ask how to be a competitive job seeker. In college you learned how to be a competitive student and earned the grades to reflect that. But I assume you were not offered the college class called Career Success 101?? I’m joking with you because I don’t of know any college that offers such a class, but it might be helpful.
So here are the top 3 things I would offer if I were developing the curriculum for Career Success 101, starting with how to win at interviews:
1) Do your research and make sure to say why you are interested in working with their organization. Give specifics and show real interest in exactly what that organization or corporation is doing. Research their web site and Google them to find other articles about them to show that you have researched and understand their mission, their mission, work, their people, processes, products, services, etc. Prepare a couple of good questions, too. A bonus is if you can find some of their competitors or comparable organizations to explain why and how you prefer theirs.
2) Provide specific examples of why/how you are qualified: classes you took, papers, internships, etc. that show you have the skills that they need. Explain your qualifications for the position and how that will impact their bottom line, their goals, their needs. For each of the job requirements listed show how your background supports your candidacy.
3) Show ENTHUSIASM — All employers want to hear that you are really excited and jazzed about their opportunity!! You must express enthusiasm even if you natural style is low key. You can practice raising the volume and varying the pitch of your voice. Do an exercise where you imagine something that truly excites you, and bring that energy to the interview. It is OK to fake it till you make it. You must make a first impression with energy, enthusiasm and excitement….Passion is attractive!
Many first round interviews are on the phone so it’s important that you speak clearly and articulately. Practice in front of a mirror and even stand in front of a mirror when you do your phone interview. It really helps. Also, practice smiling as you talk. Research shows that a smiling face actually projects more energy and positivity to listeners.
Barbara, imagine being on the other side of the table when you envision job interviews. Imagine you are now a seasoned professional and you are looking to hire staff members. Now review the three items in the article above. Don’t you agree that a job candidate demonstrating those three tips would impress you?
Onward to your career success!