by Monica C. Smith, founder and CEO of Marketsmith Inc. and I.Predictus
Everyone has heard hand-me-down stories that start out with, “When I was your age.” I have one for the Class of 2014. When I was your age – back in 1990 – the world was very different. The Internet as we know it didn’t exist, and it was a pre-9/11 world. Our modern inventions were ATM machines and the Sony Walkman, precursors to the mobile wallet and iPod.
Getting started in the workforce was easier in many respects back then. There is a grave reality to the business market today, more so now than ever. The shadow of the Great Recession is only part of it. Globalization is another component. Today’s graduates are competing in a global marketplace. Access to jobs is no longer a regional game.
The web has connected savvy individuals to the same opportunities, regardless of where they are physically located, and entry level jobs are no longer just for the young who are fresh out of college. Those who are re-entering the workforce because of displacement or new workers coming from abroad who are willing to start at the lowest level just to get a fresh start or a work visa are also competing for entry level jobs.
As an employer, when I interview graduates and soon-to-be graduates, I have so many more options than even five years ago. I do not have to settle; I know how deep the well is when it comes to job candidates. I can post a listing for job, and within days, I’ll have hundreds of resumes to review.
Today, the job market is different than it was when I graduated in 1990, but the same principles to reach success apply. Here are some tips that can help you build a winning future:
Establish your point of difference.
Start working on your personal road map right now. Ask yourself where you want to be in one year, five years and 10 years from today. Define what’s important to you. Pitch your plan to anyone who will listen, and before you know it, you’ll acquire the interviewing skills you need to put your plan into action.
Learn the art of the pivot.
Change can be scary, but it’s during transformations that some of the best opportunities present themselves. Don’t be afraid of a curveball. Be ready and open to new opportunities that are exciting, fun and potentially difficult.
Read, read and read.
The end of college should be the beginning of a lifetime of learning. Be interesting, be informed, be current, and have a point of view that is modern and educated. Reading can help you make that happen.
Network with everyone.
Make contacts among your parents’ friends, your neighbors, your community organizations – wherever working adults are, network! I recently spoke on a panel called “Backpack to Briefcase” at my alma mater. The amount of great information shared was amazing, but there should have been even more college students in attendance. Go out there and make the connections at any free forum.
Tell a great story.
Storytellers make it in this world. Learn to tell a great story of how you grew up, a tragedy that shaped your life or even a vacation that took you to a new place. People want to hear new perspectives. They want to get a sense of your ability to articulate, and they want to know that you are interesting.
The one thing all of these tips have in common is that they take commitment and hard work. At this point in your life, there’s no time to relax, not if you want to be successful. You need to be hungry. You need to work hard and build your sphere of influence. It’s about always moving toward a goal.
When I interview candidates, I want to work with the graduates who are interesting and enjoyable to have around. I like young people who can pivot on a dime, who add value and share knowledge. I like people with an awesome work ethic. It’s all about that effort, that desire to be better. After all, who doesn’t love a young person who has goals, no matter how simple or noble?
I leave you with this: Don’t wonder what the world has to offer you. Instead, go find out through trial and error. Get moving and keep moving. A great journey begins with knowing all you want to accomplish in this world and then taking steps to make it happen. It’s that simple.
Monica C. Smith is the founder and CEO of Marketsmith Inc, a strategic, direct response marketing firm specializing in accountable, omni-channel media to drive business growth. In 2011, Smith launched I.Predictus: the first-ever day trading platform for programmatic buying, and the only cloud-based media management platform designed specifically for the direct response industry – TV, retail, and web.