Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to local high school students at the HACC Career Information Fair. I participated on a panel with Beth Romanski from Central Penn College and Darrien Davenport from York College. Our topic was “Tips for Getting Your Dream Job.”
I thought it would be fun to share some of the questions I was asked along with my responses. This may be beneficial for anyone who has a friend or family member entering the job market.
In your opinion, what are the top skills that are in demand by employers?
Top skills would include: computer, time-management, communication, writing, leadership, and interpersonal skills. In my experience, employers are looking for characteristics just as much as they are skill sets. For example, I look for professionalism, resilience, and a positive attitude. If you're in the data-science industry, there are plenty of actionable tips to build up your data science portfolio. Meanwhile, if you prefer working as a truck driver, there are CDL Truck Driving Positions available that will suit your skills and experience.
How important are volunteer and internships in high school and college, and why?
They are vital. They offer an opportunity to experience situations that go beyond the classroom – and provide the practical, hands-on knowledge needed for employment. Internships help students to determine if their current career path will be a good fit. These experiences also offer competitive edge, over job seekers who did not take advantage of these opportunities.
What is personal branding and why do you need to establish it as a young professional?
Many think of a ‘brand’ as something like Tide, Starbucks or Mercedes. They associate a brand with a logo or specific corporate image.
The digital era has allowed branding to become personal. For example, when we think of someone like Lady Gaga, we likely have a certain set of characteristics that we would use to describe her. Some could describe her as artistic and others could say weird.
As it relates to the young professional, creating a positive personal brand helps position you to land a great job, or at least prevent a potential employer from disqualifying you because they find something juvenile on your Twitter account. For example, someone who dresses professionally, articulates clearly, and possesses certain knowledge can make themselves stand out and become attractive to potential employers.
For high school and college students, it’s critical to:
A) Avoid the common mistake of posting content that will be looked down upon by employers (example: Facebook photos of parties).
B) Position yourself in a positive light now. Envision what you want yourself to be in five years and start to build an online reputation that matches this vision.
How can high school students use social media to their advantage to get their foot in the door professionally?
Like I’ve said, avoid casting your personal image in a negative light and work towards a positive brand image. Establish a LinkedIn profile and connect with people from internships and volunteer activities. Join groups involving the industries you would like to be a part of. Start a blog to showcase your knowledge and experience in an area of study. Follow industry experts on Twitter – this is a great way to monitor the pulse of a field.
What other tips can you provide that will aid in securing that dream job?