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A Message to the Graduates of 2014

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The best four years of your life are about to end, and Mom and Dad want you to find a job…quickly. The good news is the economy is the strongest it’s been in years. The bad news is you’re still facing competition from recent grads of years past, who are underemployed and hungry to reach their potential. So the question is: How will you succeed? Well, here are a few words of advice.

1. You should never really graduate. Keep learning. The single most important factor to being a desirable job candidate is to realize that this world is changing fast, and you need to keep up with it. Make it your goal to study and learn something new every day, and you’ll turn being curious into a habit. Doing this will benefit you your entire life.

2. The best and most fulfilling jobs are the hardest to get. Yeah, that’s the reality. Don’t be discouraged; be driven. Make a search plan and stick with it. Accomplish something every day and keep a weekly journal of your progress. People who keep a journal about their job search are 61 percent more likely to find the job they are meant to have. Be accountable to yourself.

3. Network, network, network. You have tools at your disposal, like LinkedIn, that will help you find the people who can help you find the job of your dreams. Use these tools and be prepared to buy a lot of coffee for the folks you meet in order to get the information you need to find the job that’s right for you. I suggest starting with recent grads from your school, and don’t be shy about asking them for networking help. We’ve all had help along the way—tap into people’s innate desire to pass it forward.

4. Start with your parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Yes, they do know something about the real work you are about to be deposited into, and why not take advantage of their wisdom? Oh, and by the way, unless they are hermits, they probably know a lot of people you should meet. Turn them into your advocates. If they love you—and they should—they will go out of their way to help you make connections.

5. Soft skills are very important in this world. Being emotionally intuitive and intelligent is as important as all the facts and figures you’ve learned the past four years. Practice interviews with your friends and family. Ask them to ask you really tough and unexpected questions about your life thus far and your plans for the future. Asked them to consciously show you different body language in the interview like boredom, confusion, disinterest and anger so you can learn to detect subtle hints as to whether you’re doing a good job or not in the interview. Remember, practice makes perfect. An interview is an organic process, so don’t have scripted answers…be comfortable and at ease.

6. At the end of any interview, ask how you did. Whether it is simply informational or for a real job, don’t leave until you get feedback. Let the person know you can take any kind of criticism, because real cogent feedback will be very helpful to you as you move forward. Finally, listen to the negatives. There is probably a goldmine of information about you in there, and this is the only real way to improve your performance. Oh, BTW, this is also a good lifetime habit to make, because no matter how far and high you go in the future, smart and successful people always want to know how they are performing.

So good luck! And don’t worry if you have to go backwards a bit before you get to go forward. Life is like that—just embrace it. If you want to interview at Curiosity, don’t be shy. Contact me on LinkedIn or call me, and we’ll make that happen. I also wrote a blog several months ago about what we look for in a candidate, https://curiosity360.com/blog/detail/how-we-hire-at-curiosity#sthash.P1kFqUFu.dpbs, so make sure you read that as well.

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