Just graduate? Looking for a job? Want to tell prospective employers all about yourself? Don't.
"Tomorrow is the second day of the rest of your life."
- Source unknown
It happened again this year.
For the sixteenth consecutive year since I first started publishing on a regular basis, not one graduating class invited me to be their commencement speaker. It's too bad, because I'm ready:
Ahem. Tap tap tap … is the mike working? It is? Good.
You're members of the millennial generation. You're all supposed to be like something or other, just like members of Generation X, Generation Y, Boomers, and whatever were supposed to be like something or other.
Whether you are or aren't, I don't much care, because if the best I can do in figuring out who you are is based on your age, I'm as pathetic as if your attitudes and behavior were actually predictable because of your age.
Nonetheless, when you leave here today you'll probably start looking for a job, and the people who will be interviewing you will have read innumerable articles preparing them for dealing with millennials.
They'll have read you're more interested in what they can do for you than in what you can do for them. They'll have read you have helicoptering parents who have shielded you from the realities of the world. They'll have read you have no work ethic, are entitled, and can't spell, too.
There's a good chance the person who expects you to have no work ethic came of age in the 1960s, when we were all tuning in, turning on, and dropping out. Take care not to bring this up. Nobody likes to be told they're a colossal hypocrite, especially when that's what they are.
And if they didn't grow up in the '60s, they might have entered the workforce in the '70s, when disco was king. Don't bring this up either – nobody likes to be reminded they once wanted to dance just like John Travolta.
In any event, welcome to the 2013 employment marketplace. Even if you were a business major, I doubt anyone ever told you what you're in for. Let me be the first.
Oh, wait. I can't, because work environments are no more uniform and stereotypeable than you are. There are great places to work and there are dismal ones. There are marvelous leaders and putrid dinks. There are supportive teams and poisonous backstabbing circles.
Your ability to figure out what you're likely to be dealing with before you sign up as an employee will be distinctly limited, and for many of you it won’t matter if you could: You need a job and this is the only one available.
To get and keep the job, whatever it is, remember this: You're the only person interested in what's best for you. Keep it firmly in mind, and just as firmly to yourself. When you talk with a prospective employer all that matters is what you can do for the person you're talking to. Don't bring up your expectations, your aspirations, the kind of work environment you'll thrive in ... none of it.
If someone asks, keep your answer as brief as possible, because this is what's called a disqualifying question -- one where you can do yourself some harm, but can't do yourself any good. Give a nice, safe, short answer and turn the conversation back to what you can do for them. Do this to be selfish -- it's how you'll get the job.
Project an aura of professionalism, which is, "I have no problems, I cause no problems, and I'll solve your problems." Also, project versatility ... you aren't going to say no to an assignment just because you haven't been trained to handle that specific type of challenge.
Oh ... and don’t even think of discussing the compensation you want. Most likely there's no point to it: For your first job, they'll offer you the standard going rate and as you have no track record, only a transcript, the going rate is what you're going to get. For your first job, half your compensation consists of what the job will do for your resume.
Why aren't your needs just as important as your prospective employer's needs? They are. To you. But that doesn't matter, and if the point isn't clear, imagine that instead of looking for a job, you're shopping for a car. And as you do, the people trying to sell you one talk about nothing except how much it matters to them that you buy it, because that will help them win this month's sales contest and increase their commissions.
You don't care about that. You care about getting the best car for the best price.
Welcome to the 2013 job market. You're the car.
What else do you think new graduates ought to know about the 2013 job market?
Do you know anyone or any discussion groups that should be talking about this?
Bob Lewis is a senior management consultant with Dell Global Business Consulting. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: All opinions, statements, representations, allegations, images (if published) and anything else that appears here is the sole responsibility of the author. Dell has and had nothing to do with it, other than saying it's okay to continue publishing KJR.
Don't leave me sitting here in a vacuum! If you think I'm full of beans, let me know. Leave a Comment (just click on the Comments button at the bottom of either the homepage or any archived column) to share your thoughts with the whole KJR community.
Or, drop me a line -- the address is Letters@ISSurvivor.com.I sometimes use Comments or reader letters in my columns. The rules:
Comments are public, because they're ... well, they're right at the bottom of every column in the archives.
If you send me a letter, let me know if and how I can use it (as is, sanitized, or don't be ridiculous - you'll be found out and run out of town). Once you give me permission to use it, the permission is eternal.
Also let me know if you'd prefer to remain completely anonymous, or whether I may give you credit by name.
If you like this article, why not let a friend enjoy it, too? It's fine with me, and in fact I'd be flattered. All I ask is that you send the whole thing, including this notice. But don't be shy ... if you think they'd like it, don't you think they should see it? But only those people - you wouldn't want me to get a reputation as a spammer, would you?