As a new graduate competing in the job market against more experienced workers, it’s easy to become intimidated, especially in this economy. After all, what can you possible offer against years of experience in the field and impressive skill sets? The answer is easy, if you have the confidence to market yourself. Your youth and fresh approach to the job can become assets if you know how to position them. Here are three strengths you should always mention.
Your youth and energy. As a new graduate in your first real job, your energy and enthusiasm will be a tremendous asset. Presumably, you have a passion for your field, and have been preparing four years (or more) for your first big chance. Play up the fact that you’re very excited about this opportunity. Basking in the glow of your first job, you should be able to work circles around other staff members, and your enthusiasm will be a pleasure to observe. Volunteer to take on time-consuming projects and work extra hours, allowing workers with family commitments to take much needed breaks. This is an ideal time in your career to establish yourself as a hard worker who will do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Your flexibility. Brand new to the field, you have no pre-conceived ideas of how things should be done. Many employers worry that young workers expect too much too quickly – that they’re not willing to start at the bottom and earn promotions. In addition to being flexible about your schedule, emphasize the fact that you’re here to learn. Sometimes more experienced workers want to dictate how things will be done, or have trouble breaking old habits. Your approach to work as an opportunity to watch and learn from experts will be refreshing. In the interview, speak about wanting to spend your first few months on the job learning the right way to do things. You will be starting with a fresh slate, and have no bad habits to un-learn. Indeed, you can position your untutored approach to the job as a service – looking at processes for the first time with fresh eyes. It’s a great way to help streamline procedures and eliminate outdated steps that no longer add value.
Many young people have a technology advantage as well. If you’re like most young graduates, you’ve grown up with the Internet and mastered computer skills in grade school. If you’re employed in a field where technology changes often, you’ll have the skills to master new systems easily. Emphasize your comfort with technology and how wiling you are to share your knowledge. Your company may have some workers that are very skilled on the job but who are hesitant to jump in and embrace new software. Offer to work with team members that can trade their industry knowledge for your software troubleshooting expertise.
Your connection to the community. As a young person, you represent a group that is of great value to your employer. If young people are targeted by your company as customers, your connection to the way they think and make decisions can be extremely helpful. If young people have not traditionally been targeted as customers or employees, offer to help create a plan for outreach. If you become a star performer, your company will want to look for other employees that share your skills and enthusiasm. You can offer to reach out to campus organizations and sororities or fraternities to find other qualified graduates. You’ll also be able to help tell the story of what kinds of great jobs your company can offer young graduates.
In a few years, your resume will be able to compete in the market on its own. For the first year, playing to your strengths as a novice will help you stand out from the crowd.