Whether you’re in the market for a first time position, a new job, seeking another opportunity at your current company, or just want to be the first someone thinks of an opportunity arises, making yourself a desirable employee is a must. So how do you do it?
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About Our Guest:
Alex Edinger and Jovan Sanson
Jovan and Alex are both graduates from the University of Toledo, alumni of the Epsilon Delta chapter of Pi Sigma Epsilon. PSE is a sales, marketing, and management fraternity that helps professionally develop and place undergraduate students across the US. Jovan was the VP of HR while Alex was president of the chapter. They also held various other leadership roles and mentored many younger members.
Jovan is doing outside sales for 3M and Alex is now a sales development rep at Seamless.AI. Both graduated in May of 2019 and immediately stepped into great first time roles. Both men have acted as mentors. Alex is still involved at the national level of PSE to help bring the younger professionals into the workplace.
For this blog and podcast episode, we broke it down into multiple parts. Ultimately what we wanted was to provide a starter guide to making yourself a desirable employee, thus making you the first choice for new opportunities. The blog is segmented based on where you may be at in your career but every tip that’s given is provided no matter who you are.
Seeking Your First Full-Time Placement
Whether you’re a college graduate like our guest or seeking your first adult job after high school, preparing for interviews and spiffing up your resume is nerve-wracking. However, your resume doesn’t have to be the most impressive and you don’t have to have all the right answers in your interview. In fact, you may be surprised what recruiters are actually looking for in each question.
Alex used to have to interview for internships and jobs down to a science, but it wasn’t just about the obvious things. Employers are looking at people to fill their positions, not machines so they want to see that you, as a person, can fit and help grow their teams.
One thing to start with, if you are a college student, focus on taking care of your course load seriously. Some companies or professionals, may not focus as heavily on GPA as others, but it does not take that aspect of your growth out of the equation. Even if classes don’t feel applicable or they’re overwhelming to the point that you never know when you’ll be able to make use of them, most of them do have real-world applications. It does not always come front the assignments themselves either.
The other important thing is to get involved. In college, this means intentionally seeking out and assessing organizations to be part of. It also means going to events hosted on campus and stepping outside your comfort zone. Even if you are introverted, you can usually find people to connect with and you never know which of those people you meet is going to be a valuable friend or resource later.
For those not in college, involvement can look a bit different. For example, development based events and conferences are a lot cheaper with the upfront cost to a college student because there’s usually partnerships at the university level to help them. However, not everything costs a lot of money, and socializing with even the people in your neighborhood could be beneficial to you.
There are many Facebook groups out there for all different types of professionals and things like MeetUp, that are free of charge, but serve to bring like-minded, ambitious individuals together.
Your connections will help you learn and diversify yourself, as well as open you up to opportunities that may never make it to Indeed postings or lead someone to create a position for you because they’re that convinced that you will be a great asset to the team.
If you have either a target company, position, or both, reach out to someone in that company or job and try to connect. You can ask them to grab coffee together (in-person or virtual will be up to the two of you) and learn more about what they do. They could potentially become a mentor to you and also introduce you to more people who can help you along your career path. You may also make a great life-long friend.
Lastly, do make sure your resume is updated, you have a cover letter template ready just in case an employer requests one, and you have some references you can write down. Make sure you have a good LinkedIn page that is updated and has a recent profile photo of you. We also recommend giving your social media pages a once over to make sure that you feel they are a good representation of yourself. Even private profiles often pass in front of the eyes of recruiters.
Looking for a New Job at a New Company
Alex learned the hard way that looking for a new job after you’ve been settled into one for even a few years can be a daunting and stressful process. Forget how comfortable you may have gotten in interviews before, the nuances you learned and confidence you gained are likely depleted by the prospect of facing a task that you haven’t faced in a while.
Before you do any online job searching though, you need to do some soul searching.
It’s time to dust off the old resume, update the positions and responsibilities, maybe add some certifications and awards, and likely remove some of the things you had on there before that may not be as relevant as before. Then swing over to LinkedIn. If you have a profile and haven’t checked it in a while, make sure it’s also updated.
If you don’t have a profile at all, consider creating one. Most recruiters are going to look you up and LinkedIn is a great way to go deeper than your resume in showing your potential to a desirable employer. It’s also a great way to network with those in your desired or current industry.
If you’re not involved in your community and in development groups (both online and in-person), get involved. Network with those around. Make friends and learn about various people. The key to networking is not one coffee meeting and a business card in your desk drawer. It’s the development of a meaningful connection that is beneficial to both parties involved. If you approach someone, plan to offer them value in return even if that value comes later.
Making Yourself the First Choice for a Promotion, New Opportunity, or Raise
It’s not just about great performance when it comes to promotions and raises, though doing a good job has a lot to do about it, if you and another employee have a similar level of performance, you can still make yourself the obvious choice. The key to being at the forefront of your employer’s mind when new opportunities arise is making yourself valuable in more ways than one.
Get to know your company first. An easy way to do this by finding one or two mentors in the company. They can be in a leadership role directly above you or just someone you admire for their work ethic. Not only is that person a great resource to get to know your place of work, but they can also act as a professional development coach, helping you become a more well-rounded individual.
Be involved in your company. Involvement is a recurring theme if you would like to be not just a desirable applicant, but also a top employee. It goes a long way in helping you get to know your company better, for one. Being a top employee doesn’t always mean that you make the most sales every week or that you put out the best marketing campaigns, but it does mean that your boss trusts you with new projects and to manage yourself well. It also means that you’re seen as reliable to other team members and that people enjoy working with you.
You don’t have to be super outgoing to accomplish this. You’ll be surprised at how focusing on building fewer, higher-quality relationships will benefit both your career and your mental headspace.