Grads: Are you ready for the real world of work?
Congratulations graduate! You’ve waited years for this moment and it has finally arrived. No more burning the midnight oil to cram for exams, no more worrying about your GPA, no more teachers telling you what to do, no more curfews from parents, no more…? (You fill in the blank – I’m sure that you have a list) and us parents better recognize that you are now an adult (jokes) and you make your own rules. Whatever! Eye-winker was here before beard and since you’re “all grown up” us parents hope that you can do one thing – support yourself with a job! But here is the problem – finding a job, is a job because companies don’t like to hire recent grads! They complain that you are not ready; that you lack the right attitude, skills, work ethic and that you possess very little if any knowledge of what is expected of you in the workplace.
The sad reality is while graduating from high school/earning a degree is an accomplishment of which you can be proud, in the real world neither your grade point average or your degree can guarantee your success!
If you really want to be successful in your transition from the classroom to the workplace here are some tips for your consideration:
. Image matters: Being improperly dressed is cited by employers as the number one reason for rejecting an applicant (hostile overbearing know–it-all was # 9). Unlike your high school or college years when you were naïve enough to think that your image didn’t matter, in the “real world” it really does matter what other people think about you. Your image has the power to open doors of opportunity or have those same doors closed in your face. Study after study has concluded that appearance plays a significant role in how we are perceived by others, whether you are hired or not and how much money you are paid. In less than 30 seconds people form impressions true or false about you, based on the silent messages you send via your image. Under consideration are: The way you dress, your overall grooming, the colors you choose to wear, your facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, communication skills, vocal tone, behavior, and personal etiquette. So it’s time to lose the flip flops, air brushed nails, tight clothes, colorful weaves, (guys) drop down baggy pants (invest in a belt!), braids, earring in ear, and tattoos. Always remember that well-dressed people earn more money than their poorly dressed counterparts and are provided with more opportunities in the workplace, so dress for the level of success that you want.
. You can’t survive on ‘average’. During your school years you may have been content to earn a “C” on your report card/transcript. In the real world you will have to raise the bar and kiss average goodbye. In fact you will do well to remove good from your vocabulary altogether. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, good and mediocre are the same word and today’s employer and consumer are looking for a relationship, a product that is better than good. Replace good with exceptional, best, outstanding, etc. Think like a champion! “To be a warrior is not a simple matter of wishing to be one. It is rather an endless struggle that will go on to the very last moment of our lives. Nobody is born a warrior, in exactly the same way that nobody is born an average man. We make ourselves into one or the other.” – Carlos Castaneda.
. Demonstrate a positive attitude and show a willingness to learn. Nobody likes a know-it-all. Try to maintain a positive working relationship with your colleagues and clients but don’t become too familiar/over friendly – your boss is not your friend!
. Align your skills and interests with a job that excites you and can unleash your passions.
. Possess the following soft skills: Interpersonal skills, being a team player, planning and organizing, problem solving, multi-tasking, business etiquette, creativity, social graces, and a great handshake.
. Show integrity and demonstrate good work ethics. Hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone expects from you. For your information, there is no such thing as “Bahamian time”.
. Display good oral and written communication skills – In that vein endeavor to speak the Queen’s English at work. Drop the “I ain’t on ya run, my bad, das a vibe, true in I man still, link up, uh, um, beh, ya know!” Turn down the volume on your voice and lower your pitch (you don’t want to sound like a whiny cry baby). Slow down your speech, watch your tone of voice, and take the time to enunciate your words. Pay special attention to your body language – it’s more believable than the words coming out of your mouth. Remember, people think with their eyes and hear what they see.
. Build a strong personal brand. Remember that you are a product/brand. People buy products/brands because they satisfy a certain need. What need will you satisfy? What can your future employer expect when they hire you? Volvo is known for safety, Hermes for the highest quality of leather goods and accessories, Disney for family entertainment, Oprah for caring and helping others – what will you be known for? What unique talents and skills do you possess that will enable you to distinguish yourself from the competition? It’s time for introspection – become as knowledgeable as you can about what makes you unique and use these talents and skills to distinguish yourself.
. Invest your money wisely. Just because you are making money doesn’t mean you have to waste it. Do you really need that “fresh” new car with the spinning rims? Of course not! My friend “if your yearnings cost more than your earnings” you are headed for trouble. Stay out of debt, spend less and save more.
. Protect your reputation at all costs because you will have to live with it for the rest of your life. Remember, your reputation is not only formed by your words and actions, but also by the company you keep, so choose your friends wisely.
. Above all, “do a little more than you’re paid to, and give a little more than you have to. Try a little harder than you want to, aim a little higher than you think possible, and give a lot of thanks to God for health, family and friends.” – Art Linkletter.
n Stacia Williams offers keynotes, workshops and personal coaching on a wide range of: Personal Branding, Image Management, Customer Service, Leadership, Business Etiquette & International Protocol Topics.
You can contact Stacia Williams at 325-5992 or email Stacia@totalimagemanagement.com or visit staciawilliamsblog.com.