12 Tips for College Grads Entering the Workforce

12 Tips for College Grads Entering the Workforce

Read on Forbes.com

Congratulations! Graduation is behind you. You’ve worked hard for years and developed the skills and know-how to help start your career. Now, all you need to do is get out there and start doing what you’ve dreamt about.

But don’t expect not to face some challenges. Finding the right job can be competitive, and even after landing a position, taking the wrong approach with co-workers or bosses can hurt you.

Fortunately, you’re not the first person to go through this struggle. Below, members of Forbes Coaches Council offer their top tips for graduates fresh out of college.

Forbes Coaches Council members share how to set yourself up for success as a new young professional.

Forbes Coaches Council members share how to set yourself up for success as a new young professional.

1. Find Ways To Build Your Credibility And Value

The world has become more entrepreneurial than ever. Employers may call you an employee, but they are buying a service you provide. Find ways to build your credibility and value. Gain experience by volunteering in a way that uses your skills, take initiative in proposing projects, and put your hand up to take on new challenges. Learn to sell your services, too: network, network, network. – Jenn LofgrenIncito Consulting 

2. Make Mistakes, Then Learn From Them

Take it all in; it’s all new. Make sure to take risks, make mistakes, then learn from them. Each experience, no matter how awful it might feel at the moment, is going to be a powerful learning experience for you in the future. We learn more from our failures than our successes, so make a lot of mistakes early on when the stakes are lower, and soak in the learning. – Aaron LevyRaise The Bar Consulting 

3. Find A Mentor

Recognize the power of mentors. Finding and sustaining a relationship with an individual who is more experienced than you is an incredible, competitive advantage and is strategic to long-term career growth. It is incumbent upon every employee to manage their own career. Secure an internal and external mentor early in your career! – Eddie TurnerEddie Turner LLC 

4. Discover What ‘Soft Skills’ Need Work

Written 2,500 years ago, the main premise of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is about knowing oneself. In today’s world, it still holds true. Take your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and DiSC to understand your personality and learn what “soft skills” you need to improve. Your education is your technical skills or “hard skills.” Add a dash of your ideal lifestyle. Et voila, you’ve created your dream career! – Judi Rhee AllowayImagine Leadership LLC 

5. Give To Get

This may sound implied, but it often isn’t. Grow a reputation as a giver and a helper, versus someone who is only doing things for the betterment of their own career. Focus on being helpful, dedicated and eager. Network often and consistently. Maintain an enthusiasm for learning and growing. Your willingness to support others can open more doors and generate long-term career opportunities. – Adrienne TomCareer Impressions 

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

6. Dress To Match The Culture

Make sure your wardrobe represents the brand of the company, especially if you want to grow in leadership. First impressions count. If you show up to work in athleisure when your work environment is conservative, it will be difficult for co-workers take you seriously. Clean clothes with a good fit and polished shoes are important. – LaKisha GreenwadeLucki Fit LLC 

7. Switch Your Focus

As a student, it was mostly all about you. Everyone (or mostly everyone) had a vested interest in your learning and developing. Employers, though, will hire you for what you can do for them, not vice versa. And this change in perspective — understanding how you will contribute, provide a solution or make a difference — can make you stand out as you apply, interview and land your first job. – Carol CamerinoCamerino Consulting, LLC 

8. Cultivate Patience

The average career is roughly 40 years long. Develop patience for yourself as you gain experience, navigate the job search and become a professional, but also practice patience with your team, supervisor and company. Cultivating patience will help you avoid burnout and stay positive, while also being a compassionate and supportive teammate and employee. – Lindsey DayMagnetic Career Consulting 

9. Be Coachable And A Team Player

It’s OK and expected of you to not know everything in your first job. Many of your colleagues or managers will get frustrated with you if you come to work thinking you already know everything, and don’t want to do grunt work. A lot of the so-called grunt work is key to understanding your new job. Respectfully ask for help when you need it, and brainstorm your improvement ideas with peers and bosses. – Lucie YeomansYourCareerAlly.com/Sick Resumes 

10. Identify Your Point Of Distinction

Thousands are going to hit the ground running after graduating, and in order for you to make an impression, figure out your point of distinction. What is so unique to you that you’ll be remembered among everyone else? Frame that element into everything, from your resume to your communication. Be all of who you are. – Donna KarlinNo Ceiling, Just Sky™ Institute 

11. Use Strong Verbs To Describe What You Do

Understanding your natural strengths and communicating them clearly helps others value you more. Use strong verbs to describe what you do, instead of job titles. “I simplify complex processes” or “I create success stories” paints a picture of real results and reminds people what you bring to the table. Use that when communicating, introducing yourself or summarizing what you do. – Nancy MarmolejoTalentAndGenius.com 

12. Be Agile And Continuously Learn

More than at any point in history, the jobs of the future likely don’t exist today and can be difficult to imagine. Pay attention to developments in your industry for both threats to your work and career plans, as well as opportunities that will open up in the future. No one will be able to tell you the best moves. You have to keep your eyes open and make the moves when you feel the time is right. – Larry BoyerSuccess Rockets LLC

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