When I first left college, I didn’t want a job where suits were a requirement everyday, and yet I found myself just there, simply because no one took my resume and me seriously. Entry-level jobs required experience in this backwards market, but I was entry level and had nearly none, besides internships. The question is, how did I dig myself out of that stereotypical rut that is being a new graduate to become a successful manager-level employee by 25? Here are my true tips to owning your professional self.
Know Your S#!t and Keep Growing – How do you possibly expect future employers to take you seriously if you don’t take your knowledge and experience seriously? No, this is not saying you need a 4.0 in your undergrad – zero employers in business care about that – it means that you need to embrace and expand on what your text books taught you. Sure, you no know what social media platforms each demographic is most populous on, but HOW can you apply that knowledge to the business and help it grow? That’s what employers want to hear, not just you spitting back facts of what you’ve done. Analyzing and advising are two traits everyone needs to posses – These show you that you think about more than just the facts and can formulate ideas from them.
Dress to Impress Timelessly – Do not show up to work every day in your old navy khaki bell-bottom pants and a sweater with a funky pattern your grandma gave you. Thanks grandma, but you’re a business person now and you need to be taken seriously, so dress seriously. This doesn’t mean you have to dress conservatively or change your style. Simply assimilate your pieces to what you find your coworkers typically wear. Do you find that coworkers are in more conservative hem and neck lines? Don’t show up to work in a mini skirt or five-inch heels. I encourage everyone to buy staples that fit their style and that are timeless in the business market, like a modern black pant suit with a matching black knee-length pencil skirt, so you get two outfits out of one. Buy a variety of colored dress shirts to mix up the outfit. Spend the money on timeless pieces to keep your wardrobe small and prevent you from needing a new wardrobe for every new job.
Be Simple, Confident and Authentic – It’s important in the interview process from when you send your resume to when you’re hired that the management team thinks you’re the same person. People tend to make over-the-top resumes overloaded with information just because they look cool, then show up to the interview with a mask on for the “perfect person” you think the business wants. On the contrary – show up as yourself and make sure your resume reflects that. Be confident in who you are and the experience (or lack there of) that you have. Focus on you and what you bring to the business from your skills and experience. Authenticity makes building the business relationship even easier. If you don’t have the experience, show that you can confidently learn quickly and how you’ve done that in the past.
PRO TIP: Come into an interview with research on the business – explore their website, social media, and other platforms needed that you would touch in that role. Then, make sure to mention in the interview what skills and experiences you have that could help improve on those to show your value and commitment to making their business grow.
Work Harder and Show Character – You may think you’re working hard, but there is always someone working harder. Show your solid work ethic by being timely with projects, and even go a little over-the-top by completing early or giving them a little bit more to make their job easier without making yourself look bad. For example, if your boss asks for data from date X to Y on your business performance, don’t just provide the data, but show them a year-over-year comparison and analysis on how they performed this year versus last, and your recommendations on next steps. Show them that you know what you’re talking about and that you can achieve more than your standard job. Show them that you deserve a job better than what you’re in now.
The first few years of my career were rough. I always thought in college that I would become a manager like a snap of your fingers. Being hired into my dream roles never seemed like an issue – until I had to leave Disney. When my contract was coming to an end, I applied for over 50 entry-level jobs and got only one phone call: Wyndham. The last thing I wanted was to go back into hospitality, but I took the job because they said they saw my potential. The job was far from what I wanted to do (content writing – yuck), but I put my everything into it and people praised me for being the dependable and accurate employee. They opened greater opportunities to me and even tore me down when I didn’t follow my own rules, resulting in me losing a promotion. Here I am today in a job that I only thought was a dream six months ago. If you can be yourself and be a mature employee who shows that their knowledge and experience backs up every decision you make, you can be successful just as fast as you hoped in the crazy business world.