What the Young and Unemployed Really Need to Know

For college graduates who fear they may be trading their diplomas for Starbucks aprons, there’s good news and bad: Employers have hired 19 percent more graduates in 2011 than they did in 2010—when just 56 percent had locked down a job by last spring, according to a Rutgers University survey. But the market is still tepid. How to improve your chances at landing—and keeping—a great job:

You’re a Seller, Not a Buyer
Writes Nell Minnow at bnet.com, “[College seniors] act as though they are meeting with their college advisor, telling prospective employers what the job will do for them instead of what they will bring to an organization.” Tell your interviewer the skills you have that would benefit his company.

You’re Part of a Team
College promotes individual achievement, says Minnow, which means “students … have no reason to feel responsible for the group,” and working together is a must to succeed in business. Stress your ability to work with colleagues for the common good. Don’t dwell on your own goals but rather on the company’s.

Act Like a Grown Up
That may sound obvious, but a recent survey by the Protocol School of Washington found half of all college grads don’t exhibit professionalism on the job. What’s more, they often think their obligations to the company end when they clock out at night. “Incidents at work and comments about coworkers are not to be put on Facebook or Twitter,” notes Minnow.

Employers Expect Results
With the changing economy come changing expectations, writes Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times. When an employer interviews a candidate, he writes, he is asking himself, “Can he or she help my company adapt not only to doing the job today but also reinventing the job tomorrow?” Someone who seems able to morph to meet a company’s changing needs is more likely to get the job.

Channel Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa, CEO (Berrett-Koehler, $21.95) has advice for even older job seekers: “If it can be done now, do it now” and “Take your work seriously, never yourself.”

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