Hiring is on the rise for new college graduates but not surprisingly competition for the most coveted jobs remains intense. Standing out in a crowd of job seekers will be much easier if you start prepping now to show off your strengths to employers. What exactly are the attributes wanted by employers? The NACE Job Outlook 2011 Spring Update lists the following three attributes as being highly valued by employers. Make sure you highlight your strengths in these three areas during any interview you attend.
The interview is all about communication so take time to consider the questions being asked and to formulate your responses. Show the employer that you can clearly articulate information about yourself, while remaining concise, and that you can provide consistent answers that support your experience and skills. Make sure that you aren’t speaking too quickly or too quietly to be understood. Keep your responses direct and to the point and avoid digressing into unrelated tangents. Remain consistent in the strengths you are conveying. You can’t be all things to all people so if you are more detail driven than a big picture thinker, own it rather than flip flopping between the two qualities throughout your interview.
2.Decision Making & Problem Solving
Employers don’t want to hire people who need their hand held through every project. They are looking for employees they can trust to handle daily problems that arise and make decisions about the projects they are managing. Share experiences in the interview in which you took a leadership role in a group project or solved a problem at work with a colleague or customer. Make sure the employer understands that you are competent and confident enough to make intelligent decisions. Gather a few of these experiences in your mind so that you can be ready to recall them quickly in the interview setting.
3.Plan, Organize, and Prioritize Work
Odds are that any job you take will involve managing multiple tasks or projects at the same time. Luckily, as a college student, you probably learned early on how to do just that! Describe circumstances where you balanced class work with a part-time job while planning a fundraiser for your student group. Explain your personal process for scheduling time and prioritizing tasks to make sure that everything was completed accurately and efficiently. Communicate your ability to remain calm under the pressure of deadlines and in the face of unexpected hiccups.
Hopefully you noticed that these three attributes do not involve information learned solely in the classroom, but instead focus on soft skills you’ve developed through a lifetime of interacting with others, managing your schedule, and dealing with everyday situations. Even if you lack a lengthy history of paid work experience, it is likely that you have volunteered, participated in group work, held down a part-time job or gotten involved with a campus organization at some point during your college experience. Employers are interested in how you’ve handled previous experiences so draw from them when highlighting your strengths.