Succeeding With “No Special Talent”

Hey Anita,

I’m graduating from high school and don’t know what to do with my life. I’m not very good at book learning, so college isn’t for me. I’d rather go on a hike than sit inside and study! How can I find a job where I don’t have to sit at a desk all day? But I don’t really have any special talents. Is it possible to be successful without a college degree??

Hiker walks on Mountain TrailDear “Mountains to Climb,”

Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Everyone has an aptitude for and interest in something! If you haven’t already, make an appointment with your school guidance counselor. He or she can conduct some career tests and based on the results, point you toward appropriate vocational schools or community college certificate programs. Check out this Main Street article for ideas on outdoor careers that may suit your personality. Another great resource for adventurous grads is CoolWorks.com, a site that lists seasonal jobs in and near national and state parks and resort areas.

Zero_TalentI spotted an inspirational graphic, “10 Things That Require Zero Talent” on LinkedIn recently; it’s a good reminder of those “soft skills” that contribute to success that don’t relate to occupational expertise or educational degrees. I’ve written about many of them:

  1. Being on time. Check out my post, Snoozer or Loser, for tips on punctuality.
  2. Work ethic. If your parents didn’t instill a strong sense of job performance values, do it yourself with these pointers.
  3. Effort. Remember what it was like on Day One of Your New Job. Expend that kind of enthusiastic effort each and every day.
  4. Body language. There’s no need to discard your Body Language Consciousness after the interview. It’s a skill that can improve your everyday work life.
  5. Energy. Remain Alert All Day and don’t let Energy Vampires drain you.
  6. Attitude. Here are the Top 10 Attitudes Employers Look For.
  7. Passion. Targeting a Job that aligns with your passion makes it easy to get up each morning.
  8. Being coachable. Being open to advice, ideas, and instruction from a mentor, whether seasoned or youthful, is key not only for those just entering the job market, but employees at every stage of their careers.
  9. Doing extra. Going above and beyond is bound to earn some Compliments at Work.
  10. Being prepared. From Interviews to Exit Strategies, advance planning pays off.

Readers: Can you give an example of how one of these “zero talent” qualities helped you advance on the job?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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RELATED POSTS:
The Bridge from Temping to a Full-Time Position
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The Best Grad Gift: Career Contacts

Anita,

I’m graduating soon, and I’m nervous about finding a full-time job in my chosen field before all the gift money runs out! Can you help?

Dear “3.57 (that’s contacts, not GPA),”

Graduate introductionYou may have heard the networking theory “six degrees of separation” – you can be connected to anyone in the world through a chain of six acquaintances. Facebook crunched the numbers and determined the new normal in our social media age is only 3.57 connections.

It’s time career contacts rise above cash as the prized graduation gift. Parents, aunts, uncles, family friends, listen up! The best start you can give a grad is to introduce them to someone who can help their career. Don’t limit contacts to someone you know has an job opening. A seasoned professional in the same industry may be happy to meet with a recent graduate for 30 minutes to answer neophyte questions. A useful contact may not be able to offer actual employment, but could be the second link of the 3.57 connections needed to land a position.

Here are two ways to introduce your LinkedIn contacts to one another. A personal telephone call on behalf of a high-achieving young person you feel comfortable vouching for may be more effective than an e-introduction.

Back to you, graduates. It’s important you do your part. First, make sure you have a great résumé. Check out my blog post, Creating a Résumé from Scratch. Print on quality paper stock from a professional printer (pay for them if you must with some of those graduation gift checks) and always have copies ready for networking opportunities. Provide an electronic PDF version for any “angels” who may wish to forward it to their contacts via email.

Create a LinkedIn profile with a business-appropriate photo – no duckface! Check out Social Media Today’s blog, How to Use LinkedIn for New Graduates, to build a killer profile. Savvy networkers use the Alumni Tool on LinkedIn to widen their contacts further.

Whether communicating on LinkedIn, by email, or via telephone, explain why you’ve reached out to the connection (“My uncle, NAME, suggested you would be a good contact in the ____ industry. I’m interested in getting into the field and was wondering if you would have time to offer some advice?”). Most workforce veterans will be flattered and willing to help.

After any conversation – virtual or in-person – always thank the person for their time, even if the meet-and-greet didn’t didn’t result in a job offer or even what you may consider useful advice. You never know who your benefactor may know!

Readers: When you were fresh out of school, how did a contact or introduction from friends or family further your career? 

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
Help People Help You Find a Job
Lessons on LinkedIn
Thank You for the Interview
Be a Social Seeker, Part 1 and Part 2

Have Diploma. Will Work.

A reader writes:

Hi, Anita!

I am graduating from college this coming August and have started to take on the full-time job of seeking employment. I will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Management and would like to pursue a career in Human Resources. Can you point me in the right directions to landing my dream job?

Hi!

Thanks for the question and congratulations on graduating! It is that time of year again when college graduates are getting their minds into full-blown job-hunting mode. With our country’s job market still a little shaky, recent college graduates will Have Diploma. Will Workneed to work harder than ever to gain employment in their field with the perks they desire. I hope most of you have taken the time out of your school schedule and obtained internships or even positions with companies that you wish to work with in the future. If you have not, have no fear.  Miss Anita has some tips and tricks just for you.

To start your search off on the right foot, you must begin developing and building a network through personal and professional contacts. You never know who may have the inside source to lead you to your first out-of-college job. The more you interact with your peers and other professionals, the wider you will make the road of opportunity.

The single most important pieces of paper that you can have during your job search are a strong and compelling résumé and cover letter. Many universities and higher education institutions offer résumé writing assistance and with some tips from yours truly, you will be on your way to employment in no time. I suggest that you check out two of my posts, How to Tailor Your Résumé and Covering the Cover Letter, for some more information on the subject. Be sure to include work and volunteer experience, hobbies, and educational background. Make the hiring managers take notice and have a reason to call you for an interview.Diploma

I know we all fantasize about the dream job that we wish to have right out of college. For some, this may become a reality, but for the most of us, it will take time to obtain the skill sets needed for the position and to move our way up. If you are offered a job that is not in the ideal field of your choice or may not be exactly what you are looking for, take the job. Every job opportunity is a gateway to any number of experiences that will benefit you in the future — not to mention a great résumé builder.

Before exhausting every job board, website, and career center on the web, I suggest filling out an application and scheduling an interview with a temporary agency like Select Staffing. Temporary positions will allow you to dabble in a variety of fields and give you great experience. You can test out what you like and don’t like about a job and learn about the working world. Very often, these temporary positions turn into full-time employment with the company you are working with. For more information, visit their website at www.selectstaffing.com .

Ramit Sethi,  author of the New York Times bestselling book I Will Teach You To Be Rich has a great video and article in Forbes about landing your dream job that I think is worth looking at. Read it by clicking here and view it below!

Are you currently searching for a job out of college? If you have some advice or great stories to share, I would love to hear them.

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!

-Anita

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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