Landing Your Dream Job
If you just graduated or are planning to graduate this year, you’ll be joining the millions of young adults entering the workforce. Though unemployment is down from its high during the recession, it’s still a tight labor market—one made tighter by outsourcing, downsizing, and a changing economy. To get your foot in the door and get started in the industry you want to work in, you need to set yourself apart from your competition. To do that, you need to market yourself like a product.
Imagine that you are sales director for Brand You. How would you sell yourself? Organized, detail-oriented, and enthusiastic? That’s a good place to start, but many of your competitors will be all of this, too. What makes you special or unique? What’s your niche? Imagine a grocery aisle full of cereal. Think about what would make someone choose Brand You over Cheerios or Frosted Flakes.
There are many ways you can build up features to set yourself apart from the competition. Doing well in school is a great place to start. Good grades and a major in the field you want to work in can help show a potential employer that you’re serious about learning your craft.
Extracurricular activities in your field are another way to show potential employers that you’re dedicated. If you are interested in science, joining an environmental club is a great place to start. Interested in IT or tech fields? Try joining your school’s computer club. Better yet, if your school doesn’t have an activity for your field, try starting one. This shows initiative and lets employers know that you are organized and energetic.
You should also build Brand You through volunteer work. If you are interested in working in the medical fields, you should consider volunteering at a local hospital. If you are interested in the environment, volunteer with groups that clean up parks and highways. This shows employers that you are willing to make sacrifices to achieve your goals and that you are committed to your area of interest.
Perhaps most important for building Brand You is doing an internship. Interning exposes you to the real world of work and lets you begin to form a relationship with a potential employer. If you work hard and show initiative in your internship, you’ll impress your bosses, and this will make them more likely to consider you for a permanent position. Remember that the goal of an internship is to prove that you can do the job and to help you build the skills you’ll need to succeed in the workplace. (And of course to give your employer six months of cheap labor—hey, they know where the bread’s buttered!)
So to sum up, landing that dream job takes hard work and dedication toward building up a brand that sets you apart from the competition. If you work on developing some killer material for your resume, you’ll be in a great place to start your job search. If all else fails, go on a reality show. For some reason those people always manage to find jobs--even if they’re only on reality show reunion specials.