I’ve interviewed dozens of recent college graduates over the past few months. The positions I hire for don’t necessarily require a bachelors degree but the lack of one becomes a limiting factor at the next level so I prefer to find people who do. It shows me they were able to complete a commitment that many start but fewer see through to the end.
Many of these young people graduated with honors from top schools in the Seattle area. Most are sharp individuals who exhibit much enthusiasm. They are refreshing to be around. The corporate machine has yet to jade them.
Yet I’m shocked at how many of these same graduates leave a poor first impression because they haven’t given much thought to the following questions:
- What do I do well?
- What is my passion?
Every college graduate should have their own “escalator speech” that mentions a skill they do well and articulates a clear passion for something.
I can’t overstate how important this is when you have 30 seconds or less to make an impression. At a recruiting fair, the first 10 seconds are critical and will determine if you’re worth pursuing. Your stellar grades and summer internships won’t matter you’ve given little thought to those question. Most hiring managers are not expecting a 5-year plan, but they do want to see that you’ve given some thought to your future.
At the recruiting fair I attended last week one women approached me and, after asking about my company, said, “I’m confident in my project management skills and would like to find a position that takes advantage of those skills, preferably at a small software company. That’s what I would enjoy”. She impressed me by showing that she’d given thought to what she does well and what she’d like to do. I didn’t have a position that fit her skills, but I told her about a company in Seattle that might be a good fit.
When I see a smart new graduate who can’t express himself well I can’t help but believe he’s been cheated somewhere along the line.
Being able to express yourself doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the job, but like spelling mistakes on a resume, it becomes an easy way to pull you out of the running early in the process.
But it’s never too late create your own escalator speech. I’ll bet many of those skills that seem like second nature to you are the same ones you’re good at. Match those skills to something you’re passionate about and you’re on your way.