I have an opportunity frequently to share what I’ve learned about my career with college students, and new grads. This is not only cool and fun for me, but it is mission critical in this crazy economy for young people to clearly understand who they are in order to remain competitive. Today I thought I’d share the top 5 things I think every college student must know about him/herself and her/his place in the world. After all, it was Socrates who said “Know Thyself”, and he was a philosophical rock star:
1. Her strengths. Strengthsfinder 2.0 is a great exercise to go through in order to find (and clearly articulate) one’s top 5 strengths. Employers love to ask about “tell me a time you utilized your strengths to achieve a project or solve a problem” and every student should have some stories ready to go in the strengths arena.
2. His values. Values are important – from a corporate perspective and a personal perspective. There is no way I could work for a company that had opposing values to my own, and it is therefore important to know and assess what my values are so I can embrace opportunities that match my own personal values. The Career Value Card Sort found online free here is a great way to stop and figure out what is important to the individual. I just resorted my cards this week and discovered my values in terms of priority changed over the past year, so it is important to stop and re-assess values every so often.
3. Have a business card. Everyone over age 18 needs a calling/business card. You can get 250 of them FREE at Vistaprint.com. Many colleges offer a logo card to their students at a discount. Start building your network NOW when you are young, and you’ll have social capital second to none when you get to be old(er) (like me!). Get on LinkedIn (adult facebook), clean up your own Facebook profile, and consider other sites like joining Plaxo too. You have an online identity, so keep it sharp like your real-world identity. (And don’t kid yourself–employers are watching online and offline…)
4. Have a good handshake. Practice makes perfect here! When meeting new people, a handshake is going to be one of the first things you do with another party, so make sure it leave a positive (aka non-wimpy) impression.
5. Run other assessments on yourself. Keep a log of them. Stuff like Myers-Briggs, Insights, Gems, The Kolbe-A, IPIP-NEO, and Holland Self Assessments are all excellent tools to keep in your career tool chest. (Hint, many of them are online and free to take….just Google them.) While you don’t need to include them in your resume, they help you better understand who you are, where you want to go, and most importantly – help you clearly articulate who you are and what you want back to the universe. I’m not sure if it was Kayne West, someone in The Secret, or someone else who said: thoughts become things. So make your thoughts about yourself clear, accurate, and articulate and you’ll be miles ahead in the long run. Miles…if not light years!