Graduates Guide to Unemployment

Now that I’ve got your attention let me share with you some tips on how to search for a job and how to translate academic learning to job related situations. You’ve finally passed out of university and are seeking a job. How do you go about it? Where do you start? There are so many companies out there that you can recall and almost twice as many that you can’t! Don’t despair, a good place to start is to try and figure out what you want to do and which fields attract you and interest you.

Obviously if you’ve done your specialization in Marketing, you would almost 100% not try for a finance job like in Treasury or derivatives. Still the marketing field is very big with different ‘disciplines’- brand, advertising, market research and the new kid on the block media. How to make sense of it all? Simple to start, evaluate yourself.

  • Know thyself: This philosophical statement applies equally well to a person a company or a nation. Whether it’s trying to woo a girl or land a job the same rule applies. Evaluate yourself and see what you have to offer. Remember SWOT from the marketing basics? Do a little SWOT of yourself and see where you stand. What do you have to offer? What sets you apart?
  • Be thyself: Yes you read it right, be yourself. Don’t try to be someone or something you’re not. You have your own style and thought process, use it. Don’t blindly copy others. Whether it’s a test, exam or work life (even personal life) – it’s best if you find your own solutions and work out your own problems. There’s no harm in adapting what others have done- if you can avoid making their mistakes then well and good but be original and people will appreciate it.
  • Be honest: Honesty is really the best policy. If you have a high GPA then mention it but if you don’t have a GPA of 3.7 or more, be positive that your other skills and abilities as well as your personality will see you through. Never ever try to exaggerate your GPA score, where you interned etc. The HR manager and other people at companies are no fools and they can easily catch you out. Later if you are asked to provide evidence of your claims you’ll be stuck. Also companies are looking for well-rounded people with good personalities and attitudes, academic accolades can only take you so far. If you were involved in a society or sport, perhaps you’re passionate about chess or scrabble. Try to bring this extra-curricular info into the conversation at the interview or you can even mention it in your covering letter.
  • Network: In the past when anyone mentioned the word network people automatically thought of PTV, today we think Facebook or Pinterest is the thing that comes to mind. Network means your friends, family, classmates, seniors, juniors, and teachers also professionals you know who can give you information and help in landing a job. More than half the jobs available are never advertised and are filled through referrals and references. In our market the saying “It pays to know who you know” is very true. Keep your links with friends and others fresh; make the effort to stay in touch. Speaking of links, LinkedIn is a professional network with over 250 million members; yes it’s not a typo- over 250 million members and most of them working professionals. Recently the business networking site has established university pages for the purpose of encouraging students to join. If you are 13 and older you can! Through LinkedIn you can not only find a job and make new connections but also come into contact with professionals in different fields all around the world for a truly global perspective. A word of caution: don’t go blindly requesting people to connect with you. LinkedIn is a network for those who know each other and is based on trust and mutual benefit. There is a group called TopLinked for those who are open to invites to connect from strangers.There are plenty of job sites-, as well as marketing discussion groups such as KAMN on Facebook etc. However only contribute if you have something interesting to say, don’t reply to each and every topic. Always be polite and respectful. Offline, attend marketing forums and seminars etc that will put you in touch with some of the best minds in the market.
  • Learn to Read, Read to Learn: At present the habit of reading is dying away, each new generation has less and less time to read anything but the newspaper on Sunday. If you want to be a success in your professional life you need to learn new things- reading is a good way to do this. The Internet has made accessing a vast repository of learning and knowledge very simple and quick. Don’t restrict yourself to marketing or brand related articles and learning. As an MBA you should know a lot about the world economic situation, business news, politics, science and technology and even psychology. A very wide swath of factors exists that affect the performance of a company and its products; you need to be aware of them.
  • Practice what they teach: All right I admit it that’s a pretty lame try at including a famous saying in my advice sheet but nevertheless the advice is anything but lame or useless. Even before you leave your alma mater you should make an effort not to get a degree but an education. What’s the difference? When you get a degree you study for the exam and then you forget all you ever learnt. However when you get an education you learn not only a field but also self-improvement and self-management. Chances are if you have an education you will remember a lot of what you ‘learnt’ even in your junior school years. How to remember what you studied in the first semester of your BBA in your introduction to business class, even after 5 or 10 years? There’s a technique called applied learning, this is based on the theory –backed up by research- that a person will remember a lesson/theory better if he applies it or puts it to use almost immediately. So do the same, whenever you learn something in class try to put it into practice ASAP.
  • R.E.S.P.E.C.T Of course on the flip side you need to know what knowledge can be applied and what can’t. Earlier I said that academic accolades are not worth much in a real life setting, in the same way academic knowledge can often lead to problems in the workplace. Most of the books that are used in our studies for the BBA and MBA program are catered for the US and countries with similar economic and marketing conditions. Pakistani business and marketing has its own flavour and taste. We need to appreciate this and instead of trying to copy cut paste solutions and methods that are alien to our circumstances, we need homegrown business and marketing procedures. One thing you can’t get with your MBA degree is experience. You need to respect those who do have this essential ‘trait’, you as a new graduate lack. By all means bring your own touch to the workplace but remember to be practical and realistic. Chances are most of your ‘fresh’ ideas have already been tried and discarded but don’t lose heart. Keep making constructive contributions in the workplace.

Remember attitude is more important than anything else. Arrogance and impoliteness will not pay at the end of the day. Flexibility and an open mind coupled with respect and good judgment are the ingredients of success whether professional or personal.

Let me leave you with this quote, you might have come across it on the Internet.

“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful. ” – John Wooden

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