Increase your chances of getting a job

Several months ago, a friend sent me an article with the provocative title “5 Ways To Increase Your Chances Of Getting A Job After College.” Given that my book is called 5 Steps to Finding the Right Job after College, the article intrigued me. That article’s suggestions (and my commentary) follow:

1. “Have a plan.” What they are saying is that if you don’t know what you want to do as a career, postpone college until you figure it out. They suggest you go get a job after high school. While this may make a certain amount of sense, I’m not sure I agree. First of all, what kind of job are you going to get after high school that will allow you to figure out what you want to do with your life? You may learn that you don’t want to work in retail or food service, but that experience may not help you figure out what it is that you do want to do. On the other hand, if you go to college, take a variety of courses, complete several internships, and find relevant summer jobs, those experiences can help point you in the right direction (and give you a resume that will help you actually get the position that you decide to pursue).
2. Don’t follow your passion. The article takes this concept from a Shark Tank star (mark Cuban), and what they believe is that you should not do what you’re passionate about, but you should think about how you spend your time and turn that into a career. Now I have to admit that this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. . .why would you be spending your time on something you’re not passionate about? I guess they’re saying that you may be passionate about something, but not very good at it or that it may not translate easily into a career. They seem to be trying to  connect with Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that you have to spend thousands of hours at something before you become an expert, so why not take all that expertise and use it for your livelihood. But what if, like me, the thing you spent a lot of your non-school time doing was reading novels? There aren’t a whole lot of careers you can build based on reading novels. . .or playing video games or working out or texting your friends. If you like to create video games or develop apps in your spare time, this makes sense, but for most of us, I don’t see how it does.
3. “Create a barrier.” This particular idea was so poorly written that I’m not quite sure what they were trying to say. I’ll paste the whole paragraph here, and if you figure it out, let me know. “Pursuing a profession that requires a specialized degree creates a barrier to entry. Fields like medicine, education, law and accounting require that you have a degree in order to gain the certification needed to apply for those jobs. Other careers, like the arts, many business jobs and sports management, have collegiate degree programs, but they aren’t required to work in the field making the amount of eligible people much higher.”
4. “Check BLS.” The “BLS” is the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they publish a great deal of information about careers, including estimated salaries and the outlook for jobs in various fields. In my book I have a link to the website for their Occupational Outlook Handbook and suggestions for how to use it in Tip 14.
5. “Reduce your debt.” The suggestions for reducing debt are pretty obvious (go to a state school, buy used textbooks, live at home), but they’re not always feasible for everyone. The less debt you have when you graduate, the better off you’re going to be, but I’m not sure how this increases your chances of getting a job!

I am somewhat surprised that anyone would put together a list to help people get a job without talking about topics such as how to create a network (that’s Step 3 in my book) or how to prepare for the application process (my Step 5). This article doesn’t even scratch the surface of what I think are they most important things you can do to help you start your career, so I encourage you to investigate further and continue to work through the steps in my book. . .and continue to read this blog for more tips!