My Entry-Level Life

Kick-start Your Career After College

You’ve finally graduated; now what?

college_major_webAfter graduation, it’s a whole new ballgame. You’ve landed your first job, and it’s time to put everything you learned in college to the test. Now instead of your grade, your career is on the line. And let’s face it — launching into a career can be daunting.

But try not to forget that you’re still learning and figuring out this thing called life. Here are some tips for all you fresh grads on how to take what you learned in college and apply it to your career.

1. Set career goals

Your career dreams probably won’t happen right away. Your first job out of college doesn’t have to be your dream job — take a few years to gain experience, meet those milestones, and learn what it takes to achieve your dream career.

You don’t have to play the interview game and ask yourself where you see yourself in five years, but you should be aware of the goal you’re working toward. What career are you working toward now that college is over, and is what you’re doing now progressing toward that goal? Review courses you took towards your major and apply what you learned toward your new career.

2. Keep learning

In order to learn more about your career path, take as many opportunities to expand your knowledge as you can. Just because you aren’t being graded doesn’t mean you can stop learning. Jump on new projects, volunteer for events, and really get a feel for your company. Constantly brush up on the best ways to present yourself, and make sure you’re always prepared for the next job opportunity.

3. Avoid locking yourself into ‘traditional’ career options

You may have learned things studying for your major that are applicable to an entirely different subject matter. So don’t worry if your job after graduation isn’t in your major’s career field immediately.

You can learn a ton from your first job, and then apply that to a job you really want later.

4. Don’t compare your career path progress to to that of your friends

Everyone is different, and everyone’s path is different. Your professional network, experience, and even hopes and dreams are different from those of your friends. Especially your work friends. As a result, they’re probably going to have a different career than you. And that’s okay. Congratulate them on their success and be supportive! That’s what friends are for.

5. Get out of a job you hate

If you truly hate your job, odds are you’re not learning from it. And if you can’t learn to at least tolerate what you’re doing, you’re better off in a different position. When you hated a new class, you dropped it immediately right? Time spent hating your boss or coworkers would be better spent learning new skills. So get out there and find a job you love.

If you’re still looking for that first (or second) job, you might want to consider checking out a staffing agency. Recruiters can connect you with job opportunities tailored to your skillset. Here at Express Employment Professional, we have more than 34 years of experience placing job seekers in a variety of short- and long-term positions. Feel free to contact your local Express office or fill out our online contact form.

Are you a new grad getting started with your career? Let us know about it in the comments below!

 

 

 

It’s Time to Break the Millennial Mold

MillenialsJobSearch_Sept2013_webEach generation has a stereotype. There’s the Traditionalists, the Baby Boomers, and the Generation Xers. Now, as more of the generation known as Millennials enters the workforce, stereotypes are increasingly prevalent.

You’ve probably heard the stereotypes about Millennials, or those born between approximately the years of 1980 and 2000. They’re seen as entitled, needy, self-absorbed, and privileged. They’re known as job-hoppers and “the trophy generation.” They’re famous for technology addiction.

If you’re a Millennial who doesn’t feel like part of that stereotype, you’re not alone. Research conducted by Beyond.com shows that it takes more than a feeling to shut down those stereotypes. In order to get bosses or potential employers on your side, you have to prove that you can break the Millennial mold.

Be a team player

In a national survey of Millennials and veteran HR professionals, Beyond.com uncovered striking differences in the perceptions of this generation. For example, the survey revealed that 60% of Millennials identify as team players, but only 22% of HR professionals think the generation works well on a team. In other words, recruiters think only one out of every five applicants possesses the ability to work well with others.

You can prove that you’re one of those team players by showcasing your experience working in teams and highlighting those skills in interviews or through networking. If you volunteer with local organizations, share how those experiences helped you grow. Explore your role as a team member in any school projects or previous jobs and explain how you worked well with others. If you can, collect references and letters of recommendation from people who can speak to your specific teamwork skills.

Communicate well

65% of surveyed Millennials believe they possess great interpersonal communication skills. However, only 14% of HR professionals agree. With such a large gap in perception, you have a significant opportunity to stand out from the crowd and break the mold.

Start by brushing up on your communications skills. Consider taking an online class in important communication practices. Join a group like Toastmasters to advance your public speaking experience. Or, read articles and books that share tips about communicating with older generations, as well as communicating through email, phone, and writing. By taking the extra step to learn these important skills, you not only become a more well-rounded employee, but also show recruiters and potential employers that you possess the initiative to grow.

Work harder

If you consider yourself a hard worker, you’re not alone. 85% of surveyed Millennials identify with the trait, in contrast to only 11% of HR professionals who believe the generation works hard. To further break that number down, only one in 10 Millennial jobseekers is perceived as a hard worker by potential employers. While this may sound disheartening, it means there is room for you to stand out.

One of the easiest ways to break the Millennial mold is to simply give your best every day. Luckily, you don’t have to be an existing employee to prove your work ethic to an employer. Start before you are hired by building a network of professionals who will speak to your skills. By showing up to work on time, staying late when a job needs to be finished, or taking on extra assignments, people will notice that you’re a hard worker. And chances are, they’ll be willing to serve as a reference or write a recommendation for you in the future.

Be a leader

Even if a leadership role isn’t on your current career path, it’s important to sharpen your leadership skills if you want to stand out. Less than half of Millennials identify as leaders (40%), but even fewer (9%) of HR professionals recognize leadership potential in younger employees.

As older generations begin to retire and exit the workforce, it will be up to Millennials to fill the void. Employers recognize this and make hiring decisions accordingly. They look for new employees who show leadership potential, have skills that make them great mentors, and aren’t afraid of challenges. If you’re hoping to land a job, you need to show potential employers that you possess the leadership skills to keep their business thriving in the coming years.

Consider joining industry organizations and volunteering for leadership roles within them, like secretary or treasurer. Volunteer your time as a mentor or tutor for local schools, organize a neighborhood committee, or assemble a team of colleagues to tackle a company initiative. When you show the initiative to lead, you position yourself as an ideal candidate in a changing workforce.

Focus on loyalty

In perhaps the most striking of findings, the survey revealed that 82% of Millennials define themselves as loyal. But only 1% of HR professionals agree. Are you part of that perceived 1% of your generation who embrace workplace loyalty? If you want to stand out from the competition, you should.

Millennials are often referred to as “job hoppers,” or workers who don’t stay with an employer for long before moving to the next one. While this lack of tenure is common in early years of employment, it’s important to not make a habit of it. Be mindful of the applications you send out and jobs you accept. If you don’t think you’ll be happy at a company, or think you’ll look for another job as soon as you start, it may not be the best fit.

While you can’t always turn down a job that isn’t a great fit due to financial reasons, you can help enact positive changes in the workplace. Offer suggestions, join committees, and try to get involved. And remember to focus on the benefits of the job, like health insurance, wellness initiatives, or paid time off.

When you focus on showcasing traits that contrast popular stereotypes, you can break the Millennial mold and prove your workplace value. Remember, you can’t just tell bosses and potential supervisors that your talents are a perfect match for the job. You have to show them, too.

How do you break the generational molds? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Take It From Abe: Advice From President Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States. He served from March 1861 until he was assassinated in April 1865, leaving behind a legacy that has stood the test of time.

Today, is President Lincoln’s birthday, and to help celebrate his memory, we’ve compiled some of his best advice. Take a look at the quotes below to discover what you can learn about your job search and career path from one of the United States’ most famous leaders.

Whatever you are

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
When it comes to being successful, it doesn’t matter what field you want to work in, what school you want to attend, or what companies you want to be a part of. What matters is how you improve and motivate yourself to become better at everything you do. Take it from Abe and strive to be the best in your career or personal life.

Whatever you are (1)

“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.”
Making mistakes is part of life. We all mess up from time to time. But, how you handle those mistakes and recover from them can impact your life both personally and professionally. Instead of dwelling on the past, try to move forward. If you lack a certain skill that caused you to make a mistake, improve that skill. If you accidentally hurt a relationship, mend it. If you don’t do well at an interview, learn from your mistakes so you can do better at your next one. As Lincoln advises, always move forward.

Whatever you are (2)

 “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
Procrastination affects a lot of people. Sometimes, it’s just easier to put things off than accomplish them right away. If you’re avoiding working on a certain project, updating your resume, cleaning up your social media accounts, refreshing your references, or brushing up on your interview skills, take some time to face your obstacles today instead of putting them off for another day. The more you accomplish now, the less stress you’ll have tomorrow.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

What’s Best for Your Career Path: College or Vo-Tech?

It’5FactsaboutStaffingComanpanies_July2013_webs time to break a taboo: college isn’t for everyone. For many, there’s a better—but much less advertised—option: Career Technical Education (CTE). Let’s be more specific. A four-year stay at a traditional university won’t be the best fit for everyone. College is right for many people—but certainly it’s not right for everyone.

In today’s economy, it may not be a good fit for those who want an affordable education. It may not be the best option for those who are ready to embark on a clear career path. And it’s not for those who want to enter the workforce sooner rather than later.

For those people, CTE could be the answer. Career Technical Education, previously known as vocational-technical education, provides the skills and training needed for many in-demand careers, including:

  • Mechanical Drafter
  • Welder
  • IT Technician
  • Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Biomedical Equipment Technician
  • Legal Secretary
  • Aircraft Mechanic
  • Real Estate Appraiser

And a Career Technical Education doesn’t require thousands of dollars in loans.

It’s almost instinctual to think of a four-year college as a natural step after high school. After all, so many of our nation’s leaders, along with private organizations, urge young people to go to college. Although conventional wisdom wrongly suggests that a four-year degree is always better, it may not always be the case.

According to the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), “Career and technical education (CTE) prepares both youth and adults for a wide range of careers and further educational opportunities.” Here’s what you need to know about Career Technical Education:

  1. CTE-trained workers are in demand.
  2. CTE leads to high-paying jobs.
  3. CTE is affordable.
  4. CTE keeps businesses competitive.

The research shows it. CTE offers industry-specific training in highly skilled trades and gives students the opportunity to earn a range of credentials:

  • Postsecondary certificates
  • Certifications
  • Licenses
  • Associate degrees

So the next time you’re thinking about going back to school, consider both college and career technical education. After all, CTE may be a better fit for you.

What about you? What led you to choose college or a career technical education? Do you have any tips for others making this decision? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Ask a Recruiter: What Experiences Count as Experience

ask_a_recruiterFinding the right job to fit your skills and personality can be difficult—especially when you’re starting a new career. We know there’s a lot to learn, and we want to help by answering your questions. Our very own industry experts at Express Employment Professionals are posting their recruitment and hiring answers right here on the Movin’ On Up blog.

Question:
In the fourth installment of our series, “Ask a Recruiter,” we’re excited to feature a question from Movin’ On Up reader, Caroline.
Caroline asks, “I’m a recent college graduate and need some help finding a job. I don’t want to take the first job that’s out there, but it seems like every entry-level job I’m interested in requires 3-5 years of experience. How am I qualified for anything at this point?”

Answer:
This is a great question, Caroline! There are a lot of jobs out there that do this, and when it comes to entry-level jobs, you may find some with requirements that seem a little ridiculous. I recently had a conversation with a young grad who complained about this very same thing. She even showed me this tweet. It may feel like employers are asking you to walk on the moon before you apply, but this isn’t actually the case.Entry Level Job

The typical job ad goes something like this: “Account Executive—entry level, 3-5 years of experience required.”

When you’re a new graduate that “3-5 years of experience” concept can be intimidating, but employers are using that stipulation to weed out the unqualified. You’d be surprised how many people are turned off of applying for a job by it. What they want really want is someone who is driven and has a few skills already in the bag.

The new entry-level job, experts say, is the internship—this provides young professionals with the much needed experience companies desire. According to Courtney Lukitsh, principal and founder of Gotham Public Relations, “A junior prospect should be eager, very smart, have a few internships under their belt, and approach me with specific questions about the industry and the practice.”

In the minds of employers, the experience you need can come in many forms. Here are a few for you to consider:

  • Internships – Had an internship? Excellent, because that counts. List it on your resume under experience and explain what your responsibilities were and any impact you had. Whether it is paid or unpaid, it counts as experience.
  • Volunteering – Volunteering for an organization you are passionate about can go a long way toward making you more employable. It can also count as that elusive experience. Just think about it. You’ll be sharpening your skillset and showing off your expertise in a variety of ways through planning, organizing events, managing information, leading teams, writing, public speaking, and team work. According to theCorporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), volunteering raises your odds of finding employment in today’s job market by 27%. Now that’s a leg up on the competition.
  • Relevant Coursework – If you just finished your degree, you do have some experience. You spent several years of your life getting experience in the area, so don’t be intimidated by that 3-5 years requirement. Get around this by adding a section on your resume that highlights specific upper-level courses and projects you have completed.A degree isn’t technically experience, but it shows that you can commit and complete something, so show it off.
  • Extracurricular Activities – Whether you have served as an officer in an academic club, been elected to student council, or served on a committee in a sorority or fraternity, you have been building experience. Your work is worth highlighting, so add it to your resume.
  • Part-Time Jobs – This isn’t something I’d normally recommend, but when you are looking for an entry level job, it counts! Just create a separate resume heading titled “Work Experience” and place those items near the bottom of your resume.

Bottom line: Just apply. You may feel like you’re not qualified, but you might be underestimating yourself. Don’t be intimidated by the experience requirement. Think outside the box and get creative with what qualifies as experience. If you think the job is perfect for you, go for it. Forget the requirement. Go in there, sell yourself, and land the job.

Thanks for asking, Caroline! And thank you to Joe Paquette from Express for providing the answer!

Do you have a question about the job search, hiring, or recruiting process? Now’s your chance to have your question answered by industry professionals who find, interview, and hire people every day. Ask your question in the comments section below and check back to read what our experts have to say!

Check out previous installments in the “Ask a Recruiter” series:

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Make Your Move: Life After Graduation

make_your_move_life_after_graduation_webFor many, graduation day is around the corner. While graduating from college or high school can be an intimidating time, there’s hope for recent graduates in the job search. According to a survey by Michigan State University, 97% of employers plan to hire at least one new college graduate this year. While the odds are in your favor, you have to put in the effort to land the job of your dreams. To help you join the workforce, check out these five tips for making your move after graduation.

Know what employers are looking for.
A recent Movin’ On Up article compiled survey results from a variety of institutions who conducted research on the 2015 job outlook for recent college graduates. These results included a look at the job forecast, which revealed that employers plan to hire 9.6% more graduates in the United States than they did in 2014, and lists of the most in-demand college degrees and skills for new hires. Before you start your post-graduation job search, check out the statistics to better understand what employers want.

Use the power of social media.
Whether you’re graduating from high school or college, it’s never too early to create a LinkedIn profile. Even if you don’t have much to add to your profile yet, go ahead and get started on your account so you can use it to network with potential employers and get noticed. Forbes states that only one-third of college students have a LinkedIn profile, so creating one of your own is a quick and easy way to stand out from the competition.

Include any jobs you’ve had, from babysitting to retail, and list the skills you gained from those jobs. Make sure you also list your educational achievements, including any degrees, diplomas, and extra-curricular activities like newspaper or debate club. If you received any awards in school or your community, like volunteer or academic honors, list those too.

It’s important to remember that while employers are primarily searching LinkedIn for potential candidates, they can also find your other social media accounts too. So, keep your Facebook, Twitter, and other public profiles clean and professional at all times.

Get an internship, or volunteer in your community.
According to a study by Millennial Branding, a research firm, 85% of college students believe having an internship is either important or very important for their career. Furthermore, 52% said they hope to have had three or more internships before graduating, and 40% have already completed one internship. Since so many college graduates are looking to internships to gain experience, skills, and networking opportunities, you want to make sure you’re one of them. Try to find companies that are easily recognizable, either in the community or nationally, to help your resume stand out.

In addition to internships, you can also get ahead of the competition by actively volunteering in your community. There are numerous volunteer opportunities to consider, from working at a food pantry to helping build houses for the needy. By volunteering, you not only add valuable skills to your resume, but you also have the opportunity to network with others and do something charitable in the process.

Find a mentor.
We’ve talked about the importance of having a mentor, and the results of Millennial Branding’s survey support our stance. In fact, the survey revealed that 70% of college students have at least one mentor. Among the mentors listed were parents, professors, family, friends, and employers. Having a mentor can help you grow both professionally and personally, and can even help you on your job search. But, finding the right mentor is important to making sure you’re learning all you can. When you’re ready to pick a mentor, check out these five traits of a great mentor first.

Call on your school for help.
If you’re a college student, your school’s career services office can help you with the next step in your job search. Career offices can assist with resumes, cover letters, job interviewers, and more, but Millennial Branding reveals that only 29% of students use these offices. Be part of that group by visiting your school’s office and asking about what resources they can offer. In addition to workforce preparation, many offices also have an alumni database, which can help put you in contact with recent graduates in your field of study. Those graduates have already been in the workforce for a few years and may have tips of the trade you could learn, so take advantage of those resources.

Congratulations to the class of 2015, and good luck with your job search! Remember, even if you’re not a recent graduate, these tips can help you with your job search goals. It’s never too early to get started!

How do you plan to make your move after graduation? Let us know in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Poll: What Do You Feel Like You Gained Out of Your Summer Internship?

MOV_POLL-ICON

Summer internships are a great way for college students and recent grads to get some real-world experience before heading back to school or entering the workforce. Young adults from various majors and backgrounds clamor over openings at various companies. For our July question of the month, we want to know what you feel like you gained from your summer internship. Let us know by voting in our poll!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.