I recently graduated from college and, after I was handed my diploma, I spent four months applying and interviewing before finally hearing that job offer I wanted. I had always thought it would be easier than that. After all, I’m a college graduate, so that should make it simple, right? That may have been true years ago, but in today’s job market, you need more than that to impress potential employers.
Be an active digital citizen.
Job boards and classified ads are slowly being replaced by LinkedIn profiles and online networking. Many employers research candidates’ social media profiles and what they see could be the difference between a call-back and a rejection letter. This goes beyond having tasteful photos on Facebook. Employers want to see social profiles that show you’re an informed citizen who contributes to your online community in a meaningful way, with engaged followers.
The more globally connected our society becomes, more job applications will ask for links to your Google+ profile or access to your Twitter feed. Make sure your online profiles work for you and not against you by periodically updating them with relevant content and leaving insightful comments on industry threads. Make sure your posts reveal your personality, but aren’t offensive or controversial.
Learn a foreign language.
During my job hunt, I was often asked if I speak a foreign language. Companies are quickly realizing how crucial it is to diversify their workforce and marketing tactics to be more appealing to foreign markets. Telecommunication leaders, like DISH, have launched Spanish versions of their websites. These companies want employees who can add value by building out these sites, or those who can act as a liaison for non-English speaking clients.
When comparing your application to another, knowing another language could be the determining factor. Sometimes simply revealing that you are attending classes to learn a new language is enough to make you the more appealing choice. If nothing else, it shows you are invested in bettering yourself.
Be a universal communicator.
Recent grads have to bridge the gap between baby boomers and millennials in the workplace as these two groups have different communication styles. Because of this, it’s important to know when it is OK to be casual and when you’re expected to adhere to structured processes, even if they don’t seem to be efficient. For example, you may find it is faster to send an abbreviated text message with the status of an important account. However, baby boomers may see this as informal or not check their smartphone in time, so it may be wiser to send an email or make a phone call, even if it takes more of your time.
Once you’re hired, don’t assume your co-workers understand texting lingo or the use of emoticons. Stick with traditional language and keep your exchanges formal, especially with clients. You may be surprised how much you can learn from seasoned industry professionals, and if you turn them off with sloppy communication before you have a chance, you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice.
Have basic coding skills.
Learning to code is not just important for computer-related job hunters; it has a variety of applications for grads in many fields and is an appealing skill to prospective employers. As business and technology continue to intertwine, knowing basic coding is a major advantage. There are an abundance of free tools that can teach you, like Code Academy and Khan Academy. Whether you use your new skills to beef up your personal website or enhance the company blog, learning to code is undeniably valuable.
Having a college education is certainly valuable in many facets of life, but you shouldn’t stop learning once you’ve left campus. Make sure you have a well-rounded resume and hopefully, before too long, you’ll have your very own desk in an office to go with it.
Clair Jones is a journalist and marketer who holds 2 hard-earned degrees in Communications and Aviation Mechanics. When she isn’t writing about hiring trends and personal finance for BusinessBee.com, she can be found frolicking through the woods with her chubby dog, Felix.