New Graduates: 5 Tips to help you’ll need to transition from College to Work

Congratulations, you’ve made it! All your hard work has paid off, you have now completed a two/four year course of study. It’s grad season and time to reap the rewards of your hard work. Que in the dream job that many have conjured up in their heads. The one with a six-figure salary, flexible work hours, telecommuting, a meal plan and health benefits. Now wouldn’t that be great! The reality however is, that of there are 1,830,000 graduates this year. Also Companies will hire 1.3% less than last year 2017 according to The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).  It also reflects that more Companies are seeking to hire persons with experience over and above qualifications.

This tells us that competition will be high and that there are many people with the same educational background and the dream job… might not be that easy to attain! Welcome to the real world! To be successful in the workplace, college grad’s will need to make a smooth and quick transition.

Here are 5 Tips that will help you successfully navigate the world of work once you land a job.

1.     Sharpen your soft skills. It should be noted that education will simply get you through the doors of your desired organization, but the key differentiator in the job market where almost everyone has a first degree is your soft skills. Studies show that employers have prioritize the following soft skills as critical characteristics of a successful employee. 

Problem-solving skills

The world of work is dynamic and requires persons who are able to think of their feet and quickly resolve issues as they arise. Even in an entry level position, Companies are looking for persons who can not just execute duties and responsibilities as detailed in a job description, but also assist in the problem solving and issue resolution process while observing the chain of command. A person with strong problem-solving skills shows initiative and creativity. 

Ability to work in a team

Organizations today are fighting to dismantle silos and require the highest levels of team work and collaboration amongst team-members who might not be all working in the same discipline or territory. This requires a high level of cultural sensitivity and appreciation for diversity and an all inclusive approach to executing one’s duties.

Communication skills (written)

Communication in general is critical to any business and companies are placing a great emphasis on written communication.  While it is important to have a strong knowledge base, one must be able to translate messages through written communication as a means of persuading others to act in a certain may. This is especially important when completing reports using business intelligence tools.

Leadership abilities

The ability to execute instructions is becoming less important as many organizations have optimized their operations and have automated simple non- complex/technical roles. That being said, an employee who demonstrates leadership abilities sets themselves up to offer value to the organization. This may be done by showing initiative, providing workable solutions to existing business problems and most importantly being able to influence others to get results.

Strong work ethic

Although not quite a soft skill, this is the most important attribute that one must display to remain successful. You work ethic forms part and parcel of your professional reputation and speaks to your professionalism and reliability at work. To develop good work ethic, one must consider quality of work to be of the highest levels and quantity.

2.     Networking

There is an adage that says, its not what you know but who you know. Success in the world of work will also be based on your ability to growth and develop a strong network of people around you who truly care about your professional success enough to help propel you forward. 

Growing your network takes time and purposeful effort and will not be established overnight, it takes work.  

Your network may consist of persons within and outside of your professional field and should be a good mix of influencers and decision makers, social contacts and other community affiliates.

Consider Sporting, Professional, Community and Church Associations as a good way of strengthening your network.  Become actively involved in these associations and contribute in a meaningful way to their growth and development.

Always remember, your network takes time and effort and should be established without the intention of benefitting from the relationships.

3.     Identify a Mentor

Your mentor will be that person who serves as a role model to you. It can be someone who you know and have a relationship with as well as it could be someone who you don’t know, a public figure who you idealize.  This person should have years of experience and can provide insight as you navigate the world. Social media is a good tool to help in this regard.

4.     Trust the process

Success will not come overnight, one has to be prepared to work hard and long, to develop and grow your craft.  Recognizing that there will be failures along the way from which you will need to recover from. The make of a true professional lies not with his successes but his ability to fail and recover and demonstrate learning as a result of the failure. In the words of Oprah Winfrey:

“And how do you know when you’re doing something right? How do you know that? It feels so. What I know now is that feelings are really your GPS system for life. When you’re supposed to do something or not supposed to do something, your emotional guidance system lets you know. The trick is to learn to check your ego at the door and start checking your gut instead.”

5.     Develop your personal brand

Your personal brand will speak volumes when you aren’t in the room. It’s whatever you want persons to remember about you professionally. One must therefore consider themselves as a Company of 1 in which you are the brand ambassador and the CEO. Determine what you want your personal brand to be and actively work at this.  This may be done by also acquiring additional qualifications and certifications. One way to help in this regard is to find one public figure who you think is doing well, look at the persons educational profile and use that as a starting point in developing yourself professionally.

In closing, studies show that employees’ average tenure in organizations is approximately 5 years. This statistic proves that more persons are staying in jobs and that it will take longer to elevate within and organization. Using this information and assuming a retirement age of 65 years, you will have approximately 5 jobs in your lifetime, chances are the first job will not be your best and greatest. Trust the process and treat all experiences as a learning opportunity and you grow and develop. 

Good luck on your journey!

Source: Projections of Education Statistics to 2025 (Table 21).