If you have just graduated from college, congratulations! Take a few moments to admire your diploma and pat yourself on the back…and then get ready to attach your nose firmly to the grindstone (again).
Unless you went to school under a rock, you know that graduates are facing one of the worst job markets in recent memory. In 2012, about 1.5 million bachelor’s degree holders under age 25 (that’s 53.6 percent) were unemployed or underemployed. And the trend isn’t on track to change this year, either: A poll released in April revealed that more than half of graduates admitted to difficulty in finding a job.
Clearly, you’ll need to differentiate yourself from the pack if you want to get (and keep) a job in this cutthroat environment. And according to Coach Micheal J. Burt and Colby Jubenville, it’s not just about showing how different you are from the competition; it’s about showing how you’ll make a difference for hiring companies.
“In today’s economy, companies need to know from the outset that you’ll add remarkable value instead of being a drain on the payroll,” confirms Burt, coauthor along with Jubenville of the new book Zebras & Cheetahs: Look Different and Stay Agile to Survive the Business.
Here, Burt and Jubenville share tips that will help you to show your value so that you can get—and keep—a job in the chaos of the concrete jungle:
Respond quickly. With such a high unemployment rate for college graduates, most jobs won’t stay on the market very long after being posted.
Show up in person (and early) when you can. Arriving at your interview with plenty of time to spare is just good common sense.
Differentiate yourself. This is arguably the most important thing to bring to the job interview table: a clear answer to the question “What makes you different?”
Learn to leverage your past. One of the most important points you can make is that you know how to overcome adversity.
Showcase your innovation. It’s smart to show that you are imaginative and innovative.
Let them know you play well with others. Nobody is looking to hire a hotshot employee who’s in it for individual glory. Companies want to hire people who are willing and eager to be members of a team.
Solve their problems. Do your homework about the company you’re hoping to work for. It will enable you to pinpoint ways in which you’ll be an asset if you’re hired.
Be coachable. The ability to accept constructive feedback and implement those suggestions is extremely valuable.
Hit the ground running. Companies want to know that you’ll add immediate value if you’re hired. Come to the interview with at least one specific action plan for how you’d like to hit the ground running.
“Here’s one last tip to keep in mind when going into an interview,” Burt concludes. “Never ask about money up-front—save that discussion for after you’ve proven your value. Once your employer knows how much of an asset you are, your request is more likely to be granted, anyway!”