You did it! You graduated from college with your four-year degree or a technical/trade certificate. Something that many in your family have not been able to accomplish. Now that you feel “ready to go,” are you truly ready to start your career? Most people work various jobs, usually not career related, while attending college or pursuing their formal education. But now it’s time to pursue the career you invested time in educating yourself.
Besides a college degree or technical certification on a specific trade, however, young adults—and Latinos are not an exception—need other “soft skills” in order to be successful in the business world. I believe there are several elements that an employer looks for in a candidate and there are several things a candidate can do for their resume to go to the top of the list. Most employers, in my opinion and based on my 20 years of experience involved in the hiring process, look for the total package—a person who has the credentials plus the soft skills.
The question is, how do you incorporate the entire package when applying for a job? Let’s first talk about some ideas about improving your soft skills.
Sociability: This skill includes networking, friendliness, a genuine interest in getting to know other people, a good/clean sense of humor, and being a connector of people. Networking and knowing people are still essential for getting employed. Sometimes it may take up to the third of fourth circle of referrals or connections until something works out. Persevering is also key to success. The more connections you make, the more opportunities will open up.
Presence: This is the representation of the package of the total person. It includes your appearance, which in turn includes grooming, stance, handshake, and your entire presence that creates that first impression. Exercising is crucial to staying in shape, which is part of your presence.
Presentation: Part of your presence is your presentation skills—whether that is in a one-on-one meeting, a small group, or a large group in a formal presentation. Being yourself is crucial for people to like you as a presenter. Practicing and preparing are foundational to help you feel self-confident and thus to deliver a strong, successful presentation.
Attitude: Once you get an interview, this is your chance to not only create an outstanding first impression but also to convince the employer you are the correct candidate for the position. Your attitude every day is a reflection of your heart. Your mood, how you feel about yourself, and about life show up on your face, in your tone of voice, your behavior, and how you treat others. As part of your preparation before an interview, think of positive experiences, think of the people you love and that love you, think of places that relax you and give you peace. Remember, these are tips of things to do in addition to what’s expected, which is to research about the company you’re meeting with, bring questions ready regarding the position you’re applying for, dress appropriately for the interview, and show up on time or a little early.
Enthusiasm: If you’re not the type of person that shows enthusiasm and excitement about anything because that’s your personality, that’s ok—most of the time. During an interview, you need to show some enthusiasm about the position you’re applying for and about the company. Share with the employer why you’re interested in working in their company. Tell them about any positive feedback you’ve heard or read about the company. Get out of your comfort zone and get excited about all the things you can learn in the job and in the industry if you worked there.
Once you practice doing these activities and putting these tips into action, you can easily summarize them into a cover letter/email that goes with your resume. The cover letter introduces the potential employer to you, as a person. The resume tells them about your credentials, experience, and accomplishments. Searching for a job is your full-time job until you replace it with the job you want. Don’t give up in looking and trust that there is the right job for you out there!
This article was also recently published on www.latinoamericantoday.com newspaper/e-newsletter. I invite you to read the entire newsletter at http://www.latinoamericantoday.com/LatinoAmericanToday_April2016.pdf.