Shalom Shore is a marketing consultant and business coach specializing in helping individuals build successful careers and businesses. He does this by combining a strategic, systematic approach with creative thinking and innovative problem solving. Read his thoughts on career success, creativity, and productivity on his blog – shalomshore.com/blog.
You studied hard. You got good grades. Maybe you even accumulated the prerequisite student debt.
Now all doors will open before you and you should effortlessly get the job of your dreams, right?
As unfortunate and unfair as it might sound, graduating college is actually just the first step in building a successful career for yourself.
I read a quote once that said “The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to make sure you are comfortable, either.” This is a good principle to keep in mind as you go through life. There might very well be hundreds of other people who are also graduating with your same degree, and it will be your resourcefulness and hard work that sets you apart and helps you succeed.
Here are some practical tips you can use to become a perceived expert in your field, make yourself as appealing to potential employers, and help you land your ideal job. Bear in mind that it is never too early to start implementing these ideas, you don’t need to wait until you’ve graduated to start applying these tips.
Network, network, network
This is the single most important thing you can do.
You’d be surprised how easy it is to connect with people around a topic that you are mutually passionate about. All you need to do is ask.
Connect with other people who are interested in the same things you are. Learn from them. Share your ideas with them. And make sure to reach out to influential people, like professors or business owners, as well as your peers.
When you are genuinely curious, and try to be helpful to others, you will be developing a connection that you will find rewarding in its own right, as well as helpful for your career. I once got a great paying job after a friend emailed me a link to the job listing. I had spoken to her about the fact that I was looking for a new job, but I never expected that she’d be the one who’d actually find it for me.
Two great ways to network are in physical meetings and through virtual interactions. Websites like Meetup allow you to find events in your area where like-minded people are gathering to share information and make connections; and social networks like LinkedIn allow you to connect with experts from all over the world – just reach out and start messaging people.
Become an expert
A lot of the information you study in college can be enlightening, but it often stays abstract. The more practical you can make your knowledge, the easier it will be for you to demonstrate your capabilities and show an employer that you know what you are talking about.
Make things more tangible for yourself by reading some books in your field that focus on the practical application of things. These are often non-academic books that are written for the non-expert “layman”, and which help take abstract concepts and put them into a practical context.
One of the keys to building a successful career is confidence, and confidence stems largely from your mental attitude. The quicker you adopt the mindset that you are an expert, the quicker people around you will begin to perceive you as one.
It helps to remember that you probably know more about your subject matter than 95% of the population. You may be new to the field yourself, but let yourself feel as confident as possible. See if you can volunteer your knowledge and expertise to other people who know nothing about your topic. This will quickly show you how much you do know.
Get experience – and show it
One of the best ways to help you take your knowledge from abstract theories to concrete expertise is experience. Many people feel that this experience is difficult to achieve because, well, you don’t have enough experience for people to trust you. But there are still ways to overcome this challenge:
For one, you can write about what you know. By blogging about your knowledge, you will be able to demonstrate that you are knowledgeable in your field. Additionally, you can probably find friends, small business, or non-profits who would be happy to have you volunteer your knowledge and expertise to their benefit.
And here is the most important part: publicize everything. Make known every tiny success you are able to achieve, even if it’s just a short conversation where you give someone a few tips or help them with a problem. Collect endorsements from people who attest to the fact that you are hardworking, pleasant to work with, and resourceful.
Write blog posts about the ways you’ve helped others – or think you could help others. Then share the posts on social media and email them to people who might be interested in what you’re thinking and doing (even if it’s just your parents or friends!).
Make yourself a nice LinkedIn profile. Build yourself a simple website, even if it’s just a Tumblr account or about.me page. The goal of all of this is to capitalize on any success you have and help it bring you more success.
Ultimately, your success will come from your practical knowledge and skills, combined with the degree in which you market yourself. If you work on acquiring the practical knowledge you need, grow your experience by volunteering your skills and insights, and expand your influence through networking and building a digital presence, you will be well on your way to building yourself the career of your dreams.