Workplace Rights

Weekly (6/13/16)

Topic of the Week  Getting That First Real Job

  • DO get work experience.
  • DO work on soft skills.
  • DO learn from others.
  • DON'T assume that you know better.

Are You Experienced: Getting That First Real Job

I fondly remember being in my early twenties, I was ten-foot tall and bullet-proof, and I wasn't alone in feeling that way. There is only one problem, that attitude can ruin your chances of getting hired. Here are the stats. A study by Bryant & Stratton College found that 80% of 18-34 year olds believe they're job ready. While a study by McKinsey found 40% of employers believe young employees have inflated assumptions about their own career readiness. Bryant & Stratton's study also found only 16% of young job seekers felt improving their soft skills would have the biggest impact on their career advancement. While a study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found 93% of employers said that soft skills weighed heavily in the hiring process. Which reminds me of another trend for younger people, having their parents join them for the job interview.

Hint, this is never a good idea. But how do you balance your need to appear attractive to potential employers with the confidence that you can actually do the job. I've got three Do's and one Don't below to help any young job seeker increase the odds they'll get hired.

DO get work experience. The study above found that a huge majority of young job seekers felt they had all the skills, experience and education they needed to do the job, but almost half of all employers disagreed. One way for a job seeker to bridge this gap is to work during their college years. Getting real world experience, not just classroom time, will not only differentiate you but it will also give you skills to do a better job once you do get hired. Didn't take the time to get work experience during your
college years? You can often get the same experience by volunteering or pursuing an internship.

DO work on soft skills. The vast majority of employers feel that soft skills, critical thinking, communicating clearly and complex
problem solving, are the keys to success on the job. Unfortunately few job seekers see these skills as being important for their career. Soft skills are important to not only develop, but to find ways to show them off. Come up with examples from your past that show off these skills and explain this to potential employers in your resume and job interviews.

DO learn from others. It's essential to get other people bought into your career. Look for people who show and interest in your career and spend time picking their brains and listening to their counsel.

DON'T assume that you know better. For every Mark Zuckerberg there are hundreds of twenty-somethings who believe that they know better than anyone at work. There is plenty of time to innovate, but start by listening rather than telling them how you'd run things.

Believe it or not, you can learn from your parents too. Just don't make it on-the-job training, bringing them to work won't reflect favorably on you or your career.

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"Find a place inside where there's joy, and the job will burn out the pain."

–Joseph Campbell

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Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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