When I was asked to do a post on what my advice would be to college grads about to enter the workforce and begin job searching, my concern was that having graduated nearly a decade ago (so crazy), I'm already too old to be relevant. I've therefore decided to do the post via the medium of song, utilizing the greatest hits from the class of 2015's college years. I figure if one of these songs was playing while you were doing a keg stand, it may be more memorable. Or not.
10. "Party Rock Anthem"
You should totally have one, and it should totally be: "Have one less drink than everyone else." I've never known a single person who threw up at a corporate shindig who got promoted. Also, when executives get hammered and divulge the company's trade secrets, it's more beneficial when you can remember them all the next day.
9. "Somebody That I (or your mother/fraternity brother/third cousin) Used to Know"
If someone you know is or has a connection, don't be too proud to use it. In a workforce that's still recovering from 2008's recession, a lot of companies have stuck with the "do more with less" mentality. As a result, if you're able to get a foot in the door somewhere, do so (and don't make them regret it).
8. "Call Me (not) Maybe"
We get it. You guys love to text. Talking on the phone may be archaic, but it's also loads more efficient, and there is nothing (I repeat, NOTHING) more valuable to people than their time. So save them some, and pick up the phone to resolve in one call what will probably take at least half a dozen back and forth emails to achieve the same result. Um, but don't leave voice mail. That's for the truly ancient.
7. "What Makes You Beautiful"
Don't be afraid to let your personality show within the confines of professionalism. This may mean something as trivial as wearing super fun socks (if you love super fun socks) or a bow tie (if you love bow ties) with your suit if you work somewhere ultraconservative. It may also mean punching up your presentations with pertinent but humorous illustrations when you know your material is otherwise dry. Or it may mean many other things that set you apart from everyone else, but just make sure you back it up with some substance. The point is, be yourself, but ultimately, stand out by being outstanding.
That's the sound of a search engine calling your name. I cannot for the life of me understand when an intern tells me they don't know how to do something. I was born in the '80s for crying out loud, and even I know enough to Google anything I don't know. You've probably had a cell phone since the age of seven. You don't even know a world without the internet. So unless it's performing surgery, nod your head that you of course know how to do it, go back to your cubicle, and allow Google to guide you.
5. "Get Lucky"
Someone once told me that success is comprised of luck, talent and timing, and so far in my career, I have to agree. Be ready and willing to meet any unexpected opportunities head on, which first means being able to recognize them. Some examples are if a beloved co-worker or boss decides to work elsewhere, or goes on a 3-week honeymoon, or goes out on maternity leave. These are your opportunities to shine, not to get three hour mani/pedis at lunch.
4. "Turn Down For What"
For nothing. Say yes to everything (unless it's illegal)(or morally wrong)(you know what I mean). If you say yes to every opportunity or project that comes your way, there's a greater probability that you're going to catch a break (see "Get Lucky" above). Every single one of the most pivotal positions I have held has arisen from saying yes to something that I wouldn't have wanted to say yes to in the first place.
3. "Shake It Off"
Remember that it's business, not personal. If you don't get a call back after an interview, don't assume it's because you're the worst. I got rejected TONS of times before getting my first job, and I'm awesome. This attitude helps later when you get passed over for an opportunity in your career (and you will). Most likely, it is not because your company has it out for you so don't act all bratty and mulish about it because then it WILL become personal. Go cry privately in the bathroom and then come back to congratulate the
backstabber worthy co-worker who did get the opportunity. Cheesy, but everything does happen for a reason.
As in, don't be. Starting about 10 years ago (ahem), graduates started getting a reputation for a severe sense of entitlement, probably because the previous generation worked their tails off to provide for us, leaving our generation unable to comprehend the concept of hard work to net results. Know this: if you earn it, it will come. Also, it might be good mental preparation to know that you will most likely be in a role for a year before you actually get to claim that role's title.
This is so important. I know some people have the mentality of work hard now (and the next three decades) to play hard later (retirement). This makes no sense to me (but maybe because I don't play golf). I mean, unless you're Helen Mirren, you probably won't look this good in a bathing suit ever again. Go on vacation, play hooky with friends once in awhile, and stay home to take care of yourself when you're sick. The change from carefree college life to seriously responsible workforce life is pretty drastic. A lot of my friends went through a "quarter life crisis" as a result. Don't be one of them. Have yourself some fun before gravity and osteoporosis set in.
Listen, everyone may be replaceable, but these songs of wisdom will ensure that you make it really, really hard for anyone to replace you. To paraphrase from one of the greatest hits of MY college career (while you were in elementary school, ugh), your company may have 99 problems, but you won't be one.