Let’s be honest. The job search process can be stressful. You have to do research, write resumes, complete applications, and network with people. Add classes and exams on top of that and it can become overwhelming!
Henry Ford once said “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right” and this is especially true when it comes your career.
The truth is, job seekers today have more opportunities than ever before. However, it is crucial to rid your mind of limiting beliefs to be truly successful in your job search and land a job you love. Don’t buy into these myths and you won’t have any excuse to not chase your dreams.
“It’s All About Who You Know”
While there are advantages to being well-networked, it is possible to be successful without strategic connections. Job seekers who are networked with people in their ideal industry have the benefit of their reputation preceding them, so to speak. In order to achieve the same thing without these established relationships, you have to brand yourself.
Start by thinking about the hiring manager for your ideal role. Do some research to determine what they are looking for in an ideal candidate and build all of your materials around that. A resume alone is not enough to brand yourself effectively. Consider creating a simple personalized website, spruce up your cover letter and other materials to further communicate your brand. This will help you stand out from the crowd if you don’t have an internal advocate.
“Highest GPA Wins”
Here’s a secret: In most* cases, GPA doesn’t matter. Many young professionals will tell you that the majority of the skills they use on a daily basis were learned through internships or on the job. Now, don’t take this as an excuse to skip class or not study for exams. Your time in the classroom is extremely important – just not in the way that it is translated into your GPA. If a hiring manager is reviewing two resumes and one candidate has a 4.0 GPA and very little job experience or extracurricular activities, and the second candidate has a 3.5 but was in several leadership positions in different organizations during their time in college, who do you think is the more attractive candidate?
Clearly, the idea here is to create a good balance between your traditional studies and the skills that you’ll learn through involvement outside of the classroom. Spend as much time developing your soft skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, and presentation skills as you do your technical skills in the classroom and you’ll be able to brand yourself as a well-rounded candidate who will transition seamlessly into the workplace.
*Obviously, in some cases this doesn’t hold true. Doctors, Nurses, Engineers, and Rocket Scientists: Study hard, my friends.
“Just Get Your Foot In The Door”
Somewhere along the way, college students are told that they just need to “get their foot in the door”. By starting in their chosen profession, they can work hard to move up in the ranks as they go along. In my opinion, this is the most dangerous career myth for young professionals. It may have been true for prior generations of students, but the environment has changed. We have 21 year old’s who are developing and selling apps for millions of dollars, teenage entrepreneurs, and CEO’s in their 20’s. If you ask any of them, they didn’t start at the ground floor.
In my experience, professionals who start at entry-level positions typically don’t move up in significant ways over the next 3 years. An exception to this rule would be training programs; where clear career progression is mapped out over the course of three, six, or nine months. Either way, don’t buy into the idea that you have to accept an entry-level position just to get your foot in the door. More often than not, you’re selling yourself short.
“You’ll Only Have One Career”
Let’s say you land a job after college and it turns out not to be great as you thought that it would be. You don’t enjoy the work that you’re doing and have decided to pursue a different career path. But, you tell yourself that if you change directions now, you’ll be starting from scratch! Don’t panic, your work is not lost. It is more common than you think for interests to evolve throughout your career path.
This also takes some of the pressure off when choosing your first job! There may not be a “perfect” job for you, but there are always opportunities to learn and grow. Take advantage of those opportunities and make the career change confidently if your path branches in a different direction.
“Everyone Else Knows What They Want To Do”
When I was a junior in college, I lived with three girls who were all studying nursing. At that time, I was the most over-diagnosed student in Clemson and I was completely intimidated by them. They seemed to have had their whole careers planned out and I was feeling a little lost. Looking back, they weren’t any more sure than I was. It can be disconcerting when you have friends who are on a clear plan for their careers, but know that you are not alone if you are still unclear of your career path. In fact, many young professionals (and seasoned professionals!) are still trying to figure it out. Don’t let the fear of the unknown paralyze you. Examine your interests, skills, strengths, and weaknesses and have the courage to take the first step.
Here’s a secret: you can do whatever you put your mind to! Don’t hold yourself back by buying into all of the noise about the “right” way to go about building your career. Instead, focus on dreaming up all of the amazing things you’re going to accomplish and go make them happen.