The visit to Amsterdam Careers Days made me realize, that contrary to what you may think, job market offers plethora of opportunities for graduates and companies invest huge amounts of money for attracting and hiring new talents. However, searching for your first job is not a piece of cake. You not only have to decide upon what you really want to do, be aware what you are good at, but also it is extremely important to think about what kind of company would fit with your ambitions, interests and provide you with opportunities for future growth. Since you will spend quite a large portion of your life at work, working for a company that does not invest in you or does not reflect your personal values, may be a disaster. Our Millennial generation does not anymore want to work just for money or prestige, but we expect to have some joy in this work, maintain the work-life balance, fulfill needs for self-realization and have a sound impact on the societal issues. Therefore, companies like Google or Facebook acknowledge the needs of new generation an provide all of these great opportunities for future careers. However, as we all know, getting to these companies is quite of a challenge and you really have to stand out from the crowd. But what does it nowadays mean to differentiate yourself? You may think that the optimal target these companies search for are 20 years old graduates with fresh mind and enthusiasm with 20 years of work experience. Forget about this myth! The work experience is fine, but nobody expects you to be the expert in the given field. Companies provide lots of training, which will develop your firm-specific knowledge. Good university grades never hurt, but at the same time, they are not the most efficient indicator for your future performance. University conditions us to think within certain patters, while companies appreciate skills such as adaptation, flexibility and creativity in solving problems. So, what is it that can really help you become the one in a million and shine through the others? Surprisingly, things that are not that difficult to acquire! I found for you 5 universal factors, which can yield you a job, even at Google. Ready? Here we go!
Analytic thinking– business world is nowadays extremely complex and making any decision requires outstanding analytic skills. This demands being prepared to think both inductively and deductively. Therefore, companies look for people, who are able to translate complicated problems into smaller, solvable questions and effectively search for the solution. Also, one have to be able to connect fragmented information and deduce what can be the concussion, in other words: you must know how to connect the dots. But how to master analytic thinking? Very easily, because we do it every day at uni. Hence, don’t feel despair when solving another mathematical equation, which seems to be anyhow related to real work context or when writing an assignment, which probably nobody will ever read. These are perfect exercises of analytical thinking!
Not necessarily work experience, but experience with working – Sounds confusing? Recruiters do not necessarily require you to have experience related to the field of their expertise, but they want to make sure you know how to work. If you had any part-time job or worked for a student association, there is a high change you had to deal with managing your time effectively, work with a team and face stressful situations. Also, it is important that you were able to learn from the failures or handle difficult situations. Many companies require using STAR method when answering questions during interview: you must explain Situation you were in, Task you were responsible for, Action you took and Results you achieved. It is nice when you are able to give a lot of examples of such working situations and therefore, it is really good you had some experience with working.
Leadership skills- not confuse it with being manager. You can be a great leader having any position in the team. Leadership is about inspire others within your team and care about the cooperation. Google appreciate showing emergent leadership. The idea here is that you are able to spot a problem and step in as a leader in order to solve it. Subsequently, when the issue is solved, you are able to step. As Laszlo Bock, the head of Google HRM, said: the willingness to give up power is really important.
Being likeable– it does not mean that you have to be cheesy and try hard to be liked by everyone, but recruiters surely look for someone who will be nice to work with and be able to get along with other team members. Therefore, all the social skills count a lot! Also, many companies will appreciate your efforts in contributing to local community or doing a volunteering job. You can show that you do not necessarily focus only on being competitive, but you can show initiative and do something nice for others.
Show your motivation for a given job- do you know how many people come to an interview not knowing anything about the job? Way too many… Even though it sound ridiculous, fresh graduates focus too much on just getting the job and not on getting it to the certain company. However, recruiters can immediately spot it: if you CV is very generic or motivation letter does not emphasize skills needed for the given position, it means you do not really care. Therefore, even if you are not planning to apply for any job soon, try be interested in different companies: their culture, values and type of business they operate in. You will not only be able to identify, which type of companies would match your interest, but maybe it will sparkle your motivation to apply for “the one” company.
As you can see, there are some important factors, which can yield you a job and they are not necessarily related to your grades or specific hard skills. Make sure to keep that in mind, both during your university years and when applying for a new job! Lots of luck with it!