Chris Lasse, First Vice President/Human Resource Director
With graduation comes a deluge of well-intended career advice from family, friends…and total strangers. Some of it will transcend the ages, while some may reflect a different time and employment environment. Other advice may simply not be right for you and what you want to accomplish.
As you sort through it all, here are six tips to help you make the most of your first career move and the opportunities that follow. They’re based on what we see as we pour through resumes, interview candidates and make hiring decisions.
- Choose passion over money. When you are excited about what you do, you tend to do it well. That passion will eventually lead to a higher paycheck over the long haul. Taking a job that holds little interest but offers a higher salary may seem like the responsible thing to do. However, it can lead to being stuck in a career path you can’t afford to exit. It can also leave you without the skills and experience needed to transition into the profession you aspired to in the first place.
- Know the tradeoffs of working for a large or small company. Large companies can be well-oiled recruiting and training machines. Often, however, in exchange for a company that looks good on your resume, you give up some control over the skills you acquire, what you get to do with them, the breadth of experience you gain and the positions open to you. Working for a smaller company can expose you to a wider variety of job duties. Many times, this means gaining exposure to senior-level executives and the work that they perform—things that can be off limits at bigger companies.
- Be realistic about the market value of your degree. As an English major, for example, your starting salary might be less than half of that of an engineering graduate. Realize your value as an entry-level candidate—don’t shortchange yourself, but be pragmatic. Factor in the long-term value of building skills and gaining experience. And, if you need a tie-breaker, always take the job with the better boss.
- Look beyond the title. Good entry-level jobs help train you for long-term success. For instance, we often have openings for Credit Analysts. These positions are vital to the lending process. More importantly, they can lead to any number of lucrative career paths since they offer employees the chance to build very marketable experience and skills that are currently in short supply. Consider these types of jobs, they are stepping stones to greater responsibility.
- Find a way to stand out. The numerous job sites—from Indeed to LinkedIn—make it easy to find and apply for positions. With one click, you and several hundred other new graduates with your same degree and level of experience can go after the same job. Find ways to be different.
When you are one in 400, make sure your resume stands out.
- Find a way to become an employee referral. This will improve your odds of getting hired more than anything else you do.
- Check LinkedIn for any possible connection you can make to the recruiter or someone at the hiring company.
- Edit your resume for each job to include phrases from the posting. If an automatic parsing tool is used, you will be a perfect match. If not, you’ll catch the recruiter’s eye.
- Craft a unique cover letter for each position to personalize your application.
- Have a zero-tolerance policy for grammatical and spelling errors.
- Be strategic and have a long-term plan. This means thinking about where you want to be in 3–5 years or more. Mapping out your path will help you identify the type of experience you need and the skills you want to acquire. It not only makes you a more committed candidate, but it also keeps you focused and motivated.
Remember, the path you are on is long and likely to take unexpected turns. Our best advice is to use each stop to learn, expand your skills and gain the experience that leads to the next opportunity. We know you’ll do great.
If you are interested in making Old Second Bank your first stop after graduating, click here.