Launch Your Career - Get the Job You Really Want

by Steven Block - Date: 2007-01-02 - Word Count: 620 Share This!

College students and graduates are finding today that it is much more difficult to launch their career. In an increasingly competitive market place, many companies have dramatically reduced their recruiting efforts and now include only a handful of annual campus trips. Even those students, who attend the "right" school for their preferred employer, find that they are unable to meet recruiters due to the competitive and often dreaded interview lottery system. Those without on-campus interviews will usually get involved in a myriad of ineffective and inefficient tactics.

A survey conducted by the Census Bureau of 10 million job seekers found that the typical methods used in finding a job failed as much as 95%. Given that, job seekers should stop doing what has always been done and continuing to expect a different result. Be proactive. Instead of sending out hundreds, or even thousands, of resumes to prospective employers and reacting to their response, follow a proactive methodology used by successful professionals for years to launch your career.

First, before you can communicate why a prospective employer should hire you in an interview, you must first know the answer yourself. Speaking from direct experience, it is very frustrating to interview someone who is not able to articulate his or her skills, talents, and capabilities. Johnny Sellers, formerly of Chevron says, "When I meet with students, if they are unable to convince me of exactly who they are and what their goals are, it is impossible for me to help them."

Second, make a list of all the companies in which you are interested. Determine whether the companies you select are a close match for your skills and talents. Use a structured methodology to narrow your focus to a specific industry and only a handful of possible employers. Then, learn all you can about that industry and each company on your focused list. Your research should begin with recruiting literature from your placement office and a general industry overview. You should also read recent articles and annual reports about those companies.

In short, your focus during your research is to discover and become familiar with the particular challenges your prospective employers face. With this knowledge, you can ascertain how you may be an asset to the organization. There is always room for someone who knows how and where to make a difference.

Next, prepare and practice. The most common question in an interview is, "Can you tell me something about yourself?" It is said that every battle is won before it is ever fought. Determine how you will answer this question before it is ever asked. Start by finding a place, free of distractions, and write a paper telling the imaginary reader about you. This worthwhile exercise forces you to recognize your skills and abilities, and develop a clear concise answer.

For each skill and attribute you highlight, write a paragraph emphasizing at least three examples. Andrea M. Williams, a Compensation Analyst at American Express says, "My ability to provide multiple examples demonstrating my skills and attributes was critical to winning my position." Then, listen to yourself answering questions that you'd expect to be asked. If possible, buy a small tape recorder and record your answers. Play them back and listen to them as if you were the interviewer. Ask a friend to help you with role-playing. Better yet, if your career services office has mock interview workshops, take full advantage. Practice as if it was the real thing so that the real thing feels just like practice.

These three steps are the backbone of every successful job search. Master them, and in turn, you will become a master communicator of who you are and how you can make a difference. And, that will help you launch your career.

Related Tags: jobs, interview, job interview, job interview preparation, job interview technique, interview advice

Steven W. Block was once a college student without strong guidance and support from a college placement office. Twenty years since college graduation, he's had the opportunity to learn a few things that may be of some value. An active participant as a 'Visiting Professor' with the National Urban League, Mr. Block visits Colleges & Universities to coach, mentor, and instruct students on the proactive methodology to launch their career and find the job they really want.

Mr. Block publishes, Why Are You S.P.E.C.I.A.L.? ( This site is a natural progression of his willingness and interest to share and give back what he has come to learn. The adage of each one, reach one, teach one is very real to him. Fortunately, the web has enabled him to reach more than one. You can contact him directly at:

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