1. Get paid for work as soon as you can.It doesn't matter what you want to be when you leave college or university, employers want to see real work experience. And the earlier you show that you started to get paid for something, the better. That's because it shows you are independent, conscientious, self motivated .....and actually worthy of getting paid! It doesn't have to be a job related to your chosen career - in fact, sometimes the duller the better, because it shows you have real grit, perseverance and are prepared to get your hands dirty. If you cannot find someone to employ you, create your own micro business: it could be babysitting, gardening, baking for parties - you will amazed what this will teach you about business: how to pitch the right price, how to define your target audience, how best to promote yourself. Whatever you do, don't just sit there bemoaning the lack of jobs!
2. Show some initiativeA career in almost any field requires people who are self starters and who can think for themselves. You need to show that's you. Starting your own business when you cannot find a job is a good example, but there are lots of others. If you are passionate about working in a particular industry but cannot find an internship or relevant work experience, demonstrate your commitment some other way: undertake your own market research into a key consumer issue and offer to present to companies in that sector. All the better if that sector is struggling to connect with a younger audience. Or write a blog from a distinctive perspective and seek feedback - that way you will have something to say to prospective employers as well as real life experience of what it takes to connect to an audience.
3. Be a positive and energetic problem solverHaving a can-do attitude goes a long way in dealing with the realities of work and if there is one thing employers detest, it is negative employees. You need to show that you are enthusiastic and eager to make your mark. Find a problem or issue that other people whinge about or find difficult..... and do something about it. Maybe a local charity is struggling with fund raising, or the elderly in your area find shopping difficult, or the kids in your street are hanging about with nothing to do. Talk to people about the problem, analyse various options, identify a workable solution - and make it happen! You don't have to solve world conflict - you just need to show that you are willing to try!
4. Show some commercial senseThis is one of employers' biggest bugbears. They don't expect (or indeed want!) you to be like one of the contestants from The Apprentice but they do expect you to have an inkling of the commercial realities of running an organisation - whether that is a hospital or a business. In your everyday life make a point of thinking about and analysing different businesses: are they a market leader or are they losing market share? Why? Where are they located? Why? Has the business changed in the last 10 years? How and Why? What do you think are the main drivers of profitability? How could they lose money? How might they have to change in the next five years? If you don't know the answers - ask someone who might.The sooner you start thinking like this, the sooner you will start to understand what makes a successful organisation - and what makes one fail. And that kind of understanding is what employers are really looking for.
5. Be productive and contribute!The 80/20 rule applies in business as much as anywhere else: at least 80% of your success will come from hard work and, if your lucky, 20% may be down to sheer talent. Generally speaking, employers are paying for the former- you don't need to be workaholic but you won't get anywhere if you are a 'jobsworth' or a time waster. The secret lies in being able to remain on task, stay focused and complete the job. If you don't understand what is being asked of you, ask. Then plan how you are going to complete the job and report your progress along the way. You may also need to show that, when needed, you are willing and able to go that extra mile; in our experience, if you feel unable to do that, you are probably in the wrong job. What have you done to date that shows your commitment and contribution?
6. Learn how to communicate properlyFor most jobs, you need to be able to write, converse and interact effectively. To get promoted, you need to be able to do these things well. Sounds like common sense, doesn't it? So why are so many employers complaining that graduates and college leavers find these things so difficult? Maybe you haven't had to write an essay for a while, so get some practise writing in other ways: an article for a local paper or magazine perhaps. If you only communicate via email or text, pick up the phone instead or better still, have a proper conversation face to face. The secret to good communication is knowing your audience and respecting the message: so a business report should be professional in its structure and tone; a business email is the equivalent of a letter, a text message, if used at all, should never contain abbreviations or emoticons and when you have something important to say, do it face to face.
7. Act the partYou have been given that first great job, so now play the part like a professional. Remember, as far as your employer is concerned, you represent the business in everything you do and say, the way you dress, the company you keep. Come to work unkempt and scruffily dressed and no-one is going to trust you with the detail in that big contract. Reveal too much information about your out of hours exploits in social media and who's going to respect your judgement when it comes to making important decisions? Hang around too long gossiping in bars and no-one will want to tell you confidential company information. Always being late, coming to work with a hangover, not making an effort with the way you look, swearing, losing your temper with the junior staff - like it or not, they all speak volumes about the kind of person you are. And if you can't act the part, you won't be given the next big role.
8. Be preparedJust because it is the Scout's motto, you shouldn't dismiss it! If you come to an interview without doing your homework, you won't get the job. If you are late on your first day because you didn't check the train times, you have blotted your copybook immediately. You may have been able to 'wing it' at college but work is different. If you go to a meeting without preparing an agenda, you will not be in control of that meeting. If you give a presentation without preparing answers for all the tricky questions you might get asked- well, you will just make a fool of yourself and, possibly, the company. Don't let yourself and your employer down by not doing the research thoroughly, paying attention to the detail or planning things properly.
9. Be realisticIf you have done part time work before landing that first proper job, you will have a better idea of what the world of work is like. Someone has to do the boring jobs - it will probably be you, at least until the next batch of new recruits comes on the scene. And remember that everyone who is above you in the corporate hierarchy has been through the same thing - so don't expect much sympathy and don't complain. Look on the bright side: because they know it is tough at the bottom, they really respect new recruits who just get stuck in, don't whinge and don't expect a pay rise after three months for 'just doing the job'. If you do the boring stuff efficiently and with good grace, you are more likely to win the support of the kingmakers and move up the career ladder quickly. Find out more about skills you need to get a job click here Image provided by Tulane Public Relations