From today’s mailbag: “I’m graduating college. What advice do you have as I enter the workforce?”
Carson: What an excellent question, as I’m sure many of us had no idea what we were getting into when we faced this moment of truth.
Ideally, you’ve spent time in an academic institution that has truly prepared you for what’s to come, but no matter how accredited the school very few will truly delve into many of the topics you’ll run into – many of which have been tackled as topics in my columns.
1. Develop a network. Yours may be limited at this juncture for, before you start a network, you don’t have a considerable one. Know that each seed you plant in the various segments of your career garden will spring forth in their due course; you undoubtedly have family, friends and perhaps other colleagues with whom you have worked during college, etc., who may be able to help you. We exit college stage left and many of us believe with all our hearts that our degree will magically transport us into our field of choice – and those hopes are quickly dashed. We also believe we can drop 10, 15, 20 resumes onto online search engines and strike oil. That myth, too, will be debunked. Looking back over my own career, I certainly notice the symmetry in the connections I made in each role by various means and how they yielded fruit. However, there is no silver bullet; you’ll never know which networking event or which LinkedIn connection or which contact will lead you to the next big opportunity. Just be open to where each relationship could potentially lead – a contact could generate an opportunity for you now or even several years down the road.
2. Establish your brand. Standing out as you set foot into the workforce and evolve your skill sets and experience is very important to ensure that you emerge as uniquely qualified for roles you seek. While this is a different ballgame at the onset of your career than it will be years later, the earlier you embrace this process the better. Your resume and how you put it out there (whether you have a basic one-sheet like the rest of them or you have a video resume and extensive networking attempts online and at events to make connections), your utilization of social media and quality content focused on your career interests, your blogs, your projects and how you tout them – they are all part of your body of work. Your growing brand is what you want others to buy into – how you package yourself and make yourself known will go quite far in dictating your ability to latch on where you want to be.
3. Have realistic expectations. We emerge from our collegiate career full of life and ready to take on the world – do not let initial setbacks take away this feeling. Many of us spend years in the workforce before making a splash in our true passion – some of us may never reach that point. We all have to start somewhere and this is your entry level role. Be fully prepared to pay dues to reach the place you want – and you will never stop paying your dues. In each role you fill during your career, there will be rights of passage to earn your access to the segment of the path you desire; every job has issues, each role will have challenges that may go unresolved and it’s up to you to fulfill your duties but provide helpful feedback and maintain positivity in the face of all adversity. College does not always prepare us for the politics, the swift process changes and how much patience will be necessary to achieve your career goals. It also does not encapsulate what is incumbent upon us to truly do what we think we want to do. Finally, our career may make drastic changes over the years; plot a plan and chart a course, but be prepared for anything.
Certainly visualize what your longterm career goals are and put them to paper. Chart what you feel are your realistic career destinations in 2, 5 and 10 year increments. Decide upon the steps you know you will need to take to reach each target and continue to modify the list as new steps become apparent. Develop a rapport with your supervisor to ensure they are on board with what you want to achieve and garner from them the steps they and the company expect you to take to reach desired goals.
Congratulations on a milestone in your life and career! You have graduated college and have your whole wondrous career in front of you with unlimited possibilities. Be very open to what is ahead, ensure that you are always seeking knowledge and experience and be mindful of the people, places and things that will aid you in your journey. You never know where you will find value, so create your own value and always seek ways to provide value wherever you go. The rest will truly fall into place.
Carson V. Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving. You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”
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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.
If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G