For many, a new year means a new start in their personal or professional lives—whether it’s hitting the gym, abstaining from alcohol or seeking a new job. Whatever resolution or aspiration you set, you need a commitment and a plan to succeed.
This is exactly what I tell my mentees entering the work force: Not only do you need a plan; you need to make yourself stand out. But how do you do that? Create a solid resume, prepare for and attend job fairs, seek relevant internships and market yourself with confidence.
Atlanta’s Job Growth in 2020
The forecasts are in, and the good news is you can secure a desirable job in the ATL. Despite positive numbers, this is not easy. According to a recent Bisnow article, “Metro Atlanta’s rocketing job growth has slowed in recent years, from more than 4% in 2014 to 1.5% in August .”
But don’t get bogged down in these statistics. You are special! You are unique! You have something to offer! And you will add value! Now, go sell yourself.
Job vs. Career?
Do you want a job or a career? Do you just want to work 9 to 5, or do you want something more? Will you work tirelessly, network enthusiastically, go the extra mile, and add value? Then, you need to articulate this.
Once you have that nailed down, then ask these questions:
- What do you want to do and why?
- What is your current situation?
- What do you need to do to get there?
Your answers form the basis of a plan. And here’s where mentors add real value—using what they have learned and experienced in their own careers, they can help you build and implement the plan.
A word of caution. Be realistic. Do something which is a stretch, but achievable.
Key Components of the Plan
Job Fair 101: Be Prepared
This is an opportunity to market yourself in person, so be prepared. You must distinguish yourself. Look professional, research the companies and their attending reps, print business cards (your secret weapon) and rehearse a brief introduction speech.
Since everyone’s time is limited, meet the reps you have identified as high priority, hand him (or her) a card, explain what you want to do, request a card in return and ask for a meeting. Boom! Transaction done, and you (and the rep) can move on and meet others.
Be certain to follow up. A call is preferable (after all you have their card). Be persistent.
Internships: Secure Early
According to the stats, it makes sense to secure one or multiple internships. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) claims, “Grade point average and the total number of internships a student completed as an undergraduate student are the major predictors of initial career outcomes.”
Securing an internship takes preparation; start your search at least one year in advance. Seeking internships is a lot like my early days of cold-call sales: I would make 20 cold calls that would result in maybe 5 leads, but then I would follow-up every six months with those leads and establish a rapport.
The same determination and follow-up are essential when seeking an internship and eventually a job.
Résumés: Short and to the Point
Think of an HR representative likely reviewing 100 résumés for a single position. If that first line does not impress, you’re out.
Here are my tips to keep it real:
- Be specific. Clearly articulate who you are and your objective.
- Share your big picture. The phone or face-to-face interview is when you discuss details.
- Focus on your impact. Avoid too much detail about what you did in previous jobs.
- Keep it to one page. Include only work experience relevant to the job you seek.
New Year: Make It Happen
Economic jobs forecasts are great, but if you prepare properly and commit to a plan, you can find the job you want in any market. If you have mentors, use them. If you don’t, find one.
Wishing everyone great success in 2020!