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Fresh Out of School: 6 Ways to Jumpstart your Career

Fresh Out of School: 6 Ways to Jumpstart your Career

Being fresh out of school and unemployed is one of the toughest times in one’s life. As if having to deal with student loans was not enough, the graduates also have to start fighting for a job. And the thing that could make this even harder is having the wrong diploma. For this same reason many students research the job market before choosing a major, a staggering 82% of them, in fact.

Moreover, many students are encouraged to go for a STEM degree, believing that this will make it easier for them to find a job, according to the Accenture Strategy 2015 US College Graduate Employment Study. It seems as though the newer generations are thinking in a practical and long-term way, because many of them could end up jobless if not careful.

Unfortunately, this is the cruel reality, but with a little bit of hard work, willingness to push on, and some creativity, these young 20-somethings could find employment sooner than they expect. Here are a few strategies that could help recent graduates jumpstart their careers.

1. Set up a LinkedIn account and mind your manners on other social media websites

The first thing you should do, if you want a job, is make a quality resume. It should serve as an effective selling pitch for your skills, education, and experience. When an employer looks at it, they should want to call you based only on that piece of paper. However, as well as having the physical resume, you should make an online one by setting up a LinkedIn account.

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Be wary, as this is a strictly professional platform. People use it to find employment, recruiters use it to find employees and serious entrepreneurs use it to make business connections. It is a great way to connect and build a strong professional network you could use in the future. Nevertheless, before setting up, learn all about the rules and the best way to make your profile effective. (For example, by using the right keywords or writing a great summary that stands out.)

One more thing to pay attention to, when you start looking for a job, are your other social media accounts. When you apply for a job, be sure that the recruiter will look you up online. Everything connected to you will pop up in that search, so exhibiting good online etiquette is a must. Deleting your drunk photos, profanity-filled posts, and any other incriminating thing would be a great idea.

2. Start freelancing to get used to working and earn some initial money

Freelancer on laptop

    While you are job hunting, try working as a freelancer to get a sense of the work ethic. However, if you are good at it, with time, it could turn into something bigger and better. Perhaps, you’ll continue freelancing even when you are employed full-time.

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    Being unemployed means being broke. So, doing freelance work gives you the opportunity to earn at least some money. It may not be much at first, but at least you won’t be completely penniless. And if you decide to try it out, there are many websites where you could find clients and offer your services.

    3. Prepare a tailored resume for each job you apply to

    This is important to mention because many people do not understand the process of making a resume and a cover letter. You should create an all-encompassing “master resume” with all the information about your formal education, courses you’ve taken, skills, hobbies, volunteering experience, the works. When you start applying for multiple jobs, tailor the CV to the job in question using the “master resume” as a starting point.

    Every work position is different, so every job application should be different, too. Also, if you are obliged to send a cover letter, write a new one each time. Do not send the same cover letter. Having a bad, non-updated resume, leaves a bad impression of you. It means that you are too lazy to make an effort, or that you are not familiar with the general rules of job hunting.

    4. Start reading books on business, body language, human dynamics and negotiation

    Staying educated after college is a must. When someone says educated, it means being up to date with current events, changes in the industry you want to work in, business news or how companies operate nowadays. You find information on all of this by browsing the internet or reading books. You should read about the business world to learn how things really work, and what it takes to get ahead.

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    For example, working 9-5 was once the norm, but today more and more companies are starting to cut down on the working hours and switching to 6-hour work days. Also, a lot of companies now have open-space offices, instead of those little cubicles.

    Another good topic to read on is body language and how humans interact with each other. Understanding human psychology would benefit you greatly. It could help you understand the behavior of the people around you, and allow you to effectively resolve conflicts and tailor your approach to different personality types.

    Additionally, you would learn how to easily communicate with others in general, without losing your temper or failing to get your point across. Good manners, confident body language, a positive attitude and a few strategic sentences here and there can often get you further in your career than sitting quietly in the corner and churning out reports, hoping that your hard work will get noticed.

    5. Expand your technology-related skill sets

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    Technology and science

      Having the right qualifications and being a people person are important important in business, but you also need to be familiar with the latest technology. And I’m not just talking about knowing how to effectively use the MS Office Suit and having professional-looking social media profiles – you need to master the type of software used in your industry, have some basic computer maintenance skills, have working knowledge of popular cloud-based services, be familiar with some of the latest tech gadgets and so on.

      After you master those basic technology skills, you should work on more complicated ones. For example, learn HTML, Java or WordPress. Dabble in Photoshop and video editing or learn about digital marketing. Luckily, there are many options to choose from, from easy to difficult ones. Whatever you settle for, it will be useful because computer literacy is as important as anything else.

      6. Think about long-term progress

      When you start browsing for jobs and building your career, it is important to think long-term. Think about the future and where you would like your career to go. For example, would you want to spend your whole life in an office or do you want to have more freedom? Do you want to work in only one industry or have mixed types of jobs?

      Consider the risk of locking yourself down in one place without the ability to change anything. The best thing you could do is build a skill set that could be used in several similar jobs. This way you would progress without any difficulties, and switching jobs would be easier, too.

      There is a lot more to learn about building a career, and how life works in general, but once you’ve got these tips covered, you can learn all the other big stuff through personal experience. Just be sure to work on improving yourself every single day, and be persistent in your job-hunting efforts.

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      Djordje Todorovic

      Blogger, Gamer Extraordinaire

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      Published on March 20, 2019

      How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

      How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

      Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

      As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

      While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

      What is a Mission Statement?

      Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

      In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

      “Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

      In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

      Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

      While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

      First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

      While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

      While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

      “To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

      This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

      What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

      When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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      Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

      When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

      • What we do?
      • How we do it?
      • Whom do we do it for?
      • What value are we bringing?

      Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

      After all, that did check off all the boxes:

      What we do? Provide widgets.

      How we do it? Online.

      Who do we do it for? The consumer.

      What value we bring? The best widgets.

      The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

      Compare that mission statement to this one:

      “We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

      What’s the difference?

      Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

      Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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      You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

      A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

      Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

      1. Keep It Brief

      Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

      You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

      2. Have a Purpose

      A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

      Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

      3. Include a “How”

      Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

      How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

      4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

      This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

      Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

      5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

      It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

      Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

      6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

      Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

      7. Think Long Term

      A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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      8. Get Feedback

      This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

      Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

      9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

      You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

      First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

      And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

      For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

      The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

      It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

      First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

      If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

      Strategic Planning

      A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

      Measuring Performance

      By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

      Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

      Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

      Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

      As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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      Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

      To Hold Management Accountable

      By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

      So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

      If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

      To Serve as an Example

      This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

      After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

      Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

      Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

      Final Thoughts

      Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

      Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

      That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

      By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

      More Resources About Achieving Business Success

      Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
      [2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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