It’s that time of year.
Everyone in the world is seemingly graduating and the job market is about to be flooded. I know from experience as one of those people who was released into the wild (a long time ago!) as well as someone who fields email upon email and call upon call by hungry young men and women all looking for their shot to be a part of the sports and entertainment business.
I also have a very unusual perspective this year as I living besides, rooting for and mentoring one of those bright young hopefuls in my son, Jordan. As he navigates the minefields of interviews and the rocky terrain of searching for employment he is learning the art of assertiveness, not aggressiveness. I am living it all over again with him but this time, from the angle of the anxiety-filled parent.
So for the next few minutes, if you are interested, grab a cup of coffee, sit down and let me profess what I have learned, what works and what all newcomers should be doing if they aspire to get a shot in any business.
That’s a key piece, by the way. I am not only going to speak about the sporting world but know that this knowledge can apply to ANY profession because the truths I am about to share are universal. They are what I would like to believe every hiring manager is looking for when a candidate enters their office / inbox / HR search.
So off we go…
#1 - Don’t call it a job – it’s a career. You can get a job at a fast food joint, or a car wash and there’s nothing wrong with either of those. But if you want to work next to a talented crew of people and begin your career…begin it by talking about it like it’s larger than a paycheck or a destination for a year or two. It’s a mindset and your mind should be set on getting your career off on the right foot.
#2 – Millenials have an uphill climb. Only old people call young people Millenials and there’s a reason for that… and it may insult some. Stereotypes are defined as a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. Love it or hate it, stereotypes have stuck and if you are under 25, heed this warning; You will have to work harder, prove yourself more valuable and lose any thoughts of entitlement when it comes to compensation, positioning and day to day duties. It is widely viewed that those who can have answers at the touch of a button, communicate via text and have lived under their parent’s bank account for the first 20+ years of their lives aren’t properly socially acclimated, grateful or possess simple business etiquette (or what your parent’s called “common sense.”)
Again – stereotypes… read further before venting.
I have plenty of novice and hungry co-workers who have toiled to get where they are and show no signs of stopping. But I have also run across those who have made me cringe with the lack of decorum, politeness and respect for those who have worked for 5, 10, 15+ years and did so without the help of the internet to pave their way. This is a stereotype that must be broken and YOU are just the person to do it. Come in ready to work, forgetting about the vast wealth of knowledge you might think you have and with the understanding that when you walk through those doors, you just might not be liked, valued or respected until you earn it. There are no medals for everyone, a limited amount of back-pats for doing what you are paid to do and if you don’t do a great job, there are no do-overs. The hard reality is there are 100 people ready to step over you to prove themselves too… so if you get the shot, cherish it and break stereotypes. Oh… one last thing. A good handshake is a must as are ‘pleases’ and ‘thank you’s.’ Don’t come at me with a dead-fish handshake…ever.
#3 – Your Resume has to be bulletproof. Plain and simple, would you go on a first date with a booger hanging from your nose or a belt loop missed? No, of course not, or there wouldn’t be a second date.
Your resume is your first date and if it is a wreck… you may not get another.
Have as many people look at your resume as humanly possible. It should be a work in progress with tweaks happening often. Worried your parents, professor or crazy uncle may be too harsh as they review your resume? Well, that simply means they are the perfect person for the job. Thicken your skin, take criticism and note that if I personally get a resume with 3 mistakes on it… there is no second date. If you can’t handle your own details, how can you handle mine?
#4 – Dress to impress. Always a touchy subject and one that even within my current office walls comes up often. Should you wear a suit and tie / pantsuit to an interview? The answer (from me) is 100% YES.
Even if you are being Skyped for and interview, you should be putting your best foot forward. I don’t care if its New York, Florida or the Bay, some things, in my opinion, are non-negotiable and dressing for a job interview is one of them. There’s no sin in dressing up for an interview but there is one for not doing so.
#5 – Handwritten notes go far. Sensing the trend here? Respect, old school, buttoned up, no dead fish handshakes… business has been going on for quite some time and this is how it is done. Want to take it a step further? Send a hand written note to the interviewing manager after a meeting. A few lines thanking them and showing gratitude for the time they spent. Don’t want the job? STILL SEND THE NOTE. You never know what this person will say about you when you walk out of that building but they just might recommend you because of something that stood out during your interaction. Why not remind them how special and detail oriented you are by giving them something tangible to mull over? I promise you this type of thinking will separate you from your competition.
#6 – There’s no shame in interning after graduation. I personally have an 80%+ rate of hiring interns who have worked for me or for teams that I have been a part of. If you are lucky enough to be asked to work in a profession you love and the opportunity is to learn and become more valuable, then I say “There is no time to starve then when you are young and have no kids or mortgage.” Interning teaches incredible lessons, trains a budding professional to be a veteran and gives insight on two core thought processes; what you like and more importantly, what you don’t like about the job at hand.
Learning first-hand, 40 hours a week + as an intern is as valuable as a full-time position because your foot is in the door, you are sharpening your skills and I can assure you ANY great intern will find 1 of 2 paths upon completion. The first path is as follows. They work hard, learn, impress but find there is no room to become employed at the company. That path will lead to a recommendation of the highest level for that intern to get an opportunity elsewhere and this time they are working with a year under their belt. That means the opportunity next time will be of greater value. The second path a great intern can take is after planting that foot in the door they then lay their shoulder into that door by being asked to be the next man/woman up when opportunity shows its face. Several times in the past months I have seen managers stand up for their interns to get them the full-time opportunity they deserve. It’s a right of passage for people who work hard and are committed and nothing makes a manager happier than seeing the gratification on someone’s face whose dreams are coming true due to their passion and devotion.
I recommend several internships while in school, but an internship does not have to stop after graduation. If you want to be fast tracked to a position that could be opening, working diligently under the noses of those who can make that dream become a reality is a perfect way to do it.
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