I was recently contacted by a young professional, Mark Nanez, who asked for a few minutes of my time to discuss his business goals. Within seconds of our conversation, he mentioned he had attended the Annual McCoy College of Business Etiquette Dinner…three years in a row! That remark made an immediate connection as I am always impressed with students who value the importance of executive leadership training offered by their university. I have worked with Texas State for over 10 years and took note of Mark’s commitment to professional growth.
According to a study conducted by Harvard, Stanford and The Carnegie Foundation, 85% of your job success is the ability to put others at ease, “soft skills.” I asked Mark if he would share his own experience as he transitioned from college to a new job during his first year.
Here is Mark’s career advice for recent college graduates:
Many new graduates are hard at work in their search to find a job, or have accepted a position that was not necessarily their first choice. I am sharing my personal tips on navigating the first year out of college, and becoming a professional. What steps did I take to begin?
Create a LinkedIn account
For those of you not on this network, it is a social platform for professionals, similar to Facebook. You don’t realize how many job opportunities I’ve discovered just by having an account. It’s easy to sign up, but does take some time to complete. This is YOUR image. Upload a high resolution photo of yourself against a plain background (not at a party) as your profile photo and formulate a rock star digital resume.
Employed or not, it helps to meet people that can assist you in finding a job, give you advice to enhance your professional career, or suggest referrals. Two organizations I recommend are the local Chamber of Commerce and Business Networking International.
Surround Yourself with Successful Professionals
Look for the best of the best in your industry. People are willing to help those who want to grow. The only way you are going to get noticed by these individuals is by making yourself approachable. I add them on LinkedIn, and make a point of meeting them at industry events.
The more you learn, the better you will perform. The better you perform, the more valuable you are to a company. Read books and watch videos from thought leaders. Don’t like to read? Turn your car into a classroom with an audio book.
Take a Business Etiquette Course
Invest in yourself by signing up for an etiquette class. I’ve learned something new every time I’ve attended an etiquette session. When you are having lunch with a big prospect or future employer, the last thing you want to do is make a fool out of yourself. Do yourself a favor and take advantage of the Career Services Department at your university. I attended Diane’s Dining Etiquette workshop, offered by Texas State University, McCoy College of Business. It has been a tremendous help and given me the advantage when I am networking and dining with peers and other professionals.
Finally, navigate your interview like a pro, not a recent graduate. You are applying for a job that will begin your career. To read more of Mark Nanez’s articles, visit his website.
Best of luck!