Hire education: Experts Offer Graduates Advice On Starting Their Careers

Boston Herald

By Rochelle Stewart Rubino
October 7, 2014

Passing exams and earning a degree are just some of what it takes to score a job after college. Landing a coveted job, even with the proper credentials on paper, takes a little legwork too.

According to experts, college students need to understand the job market, and know who you are and what you want from your career.

“You want to look for a job in an industry you are interested in and remember that it takes baby steps to go up the ladder,” advised Dr. Kat Cohen, founder and CEO of IvyWise, an educational consulting company that provides career counseling services to students.

Sometimes that even means taking an unpaid internship or an entry-level paid job to “prove yourself and move up within that company” Cohen said.

Babson College professor Wendy Murphy noted that it’s a job seeker’s responsibility to understand the salary, so when a job is offered, the candidates can negotiate a salary within the appropriate means. A college’s career center can offer that guidance, she said, as well as several websites, in­cluding payscale.com.

Ashely Fiedler, manager of territory sales Boston for Grainger, an industrial supply company, also advises college students and other job seekers to “know who you are.”

“It’s not just the product,” she said. “You need to understand what your brand is about and what value you can bring to (the company).”

Murphy said research has shown that when em­ployees have a healthy balance between the workplace and home life and are happy and thriving, the company also thrives.

“It improves a company’s bottom line.”

“It’s OK to ask good questions about what happens normally in the business,” Murphy said. “It’s a good way to get at what the norms are for that company and it makes the job seeker look as though they are trying to understand how the job gets done.”

Cohen also advises students and job seekers to “keep digital footprints clean.” Hiring managers research candidates through social media platforms. In fact, Cohen said her company denied a job to a candidate for a high level position due to background digging that revealed an online dating profile in which the candidate said she was an occasional drug user.

“We didn’t hire because of that even though she was smart and presentable” and had graduated from an Ivy League school, Cohen said.

So Cohen recommends college students and job seekers keep their social media profiles clean.

“Don’t post it if you don’t want your grandma to see it,” Cohen said. “If it passes the grandma test, you’re OK.”

Fiedler, who also hires employees for her com­pany, agrees.

“Hiring managers check Google, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook,” she said. Additionally, once you are working, Fiedler said, clients may look you up on social media sites.

“If you post something unprofessional, you’ll lose the respect of your clients,” she warned.

Fiedler also said it’s essential for job seekers and college students to create LinkedIn profiles.

“You can find out everything you need to know about the person who is interviewing,” she said, and it’s a good way to make connections.

Once you’ve scored the job, Murphy recommends creating connections early on with peers in the workplace.

“Your peers at this age are your best source of information,” she said, and can serve as mentors and sources to network with.

“The fact of the matter is (employees) are going to make career changes. The average number of career changes for people under 30 years old is five. Build good peer relationships.”