Harsh title, specially for people paying a fortune at top colleges… but read on.
Nowadays, getting hired is not just about having a degree … at least not in a good position.
You would be lucky if your CV makes it through to the top 10 or even 100 out of the thousands applications companies receive! (how you present your CV is also very important, I’ll write another post about that)
From my experience in working with hundreds of companies and having my own businesses, I can assure you that most employers barely care about where you get your degree and what your GPA is.
Skill vs Studies
The above applies mostly to domains where ‘skill’ is the primary factor, when it is something that starts off as a hobby and something you love.
For example programming, design, fashion, marketing, social media, building or taking apart stuff, etc. are industries where personal experience & passion play a much bigger role than a degree or good grades.
In all these types of industries, you usually start gaining experience through your hobby before even getting into college (such as drawing, taking things apart, creating apps or games, etc.). These are things you naturally like and are skilled at.
It is extremely important to do something you love, because that’s the only way you’ll be good at it. Anyone picking a major because ‘it has jobs’ or ‘makes good money’ will likely fail because they will not enjoy it, and because others who enjoy it will make it their passion and progress much more than you, exceed you, and take opportunities out of your way.
(In counter respective, medicine majors, psychology, have more weight on studied material, then you start gathering experience.)
Today, getting hired in entry-level positions requires experience and fine-tuned skills…not a 4.0 GPA !
A company I know once reached a point where they started declining all applications from a certain known university because graduates of that university came to interviews with very high ego and expecting higher salaries because of their university’s “name” and how much they paid on their degree…but fact is, they had nothing better to offer…only higher ego with little to give.
Students who already work in the domain of their study and who do something they’re passionate about are surely aware that they are ahead of their colleagues and easily feel that they can stand out from the masses regardless of grades! This is what companies want.
They’re always a step ahead! This carries on to real life, and that’s where you scale up in your career.
Did you pick the right major?
Besides all that and sadly enough, most students are doing majors they are not sure they want to do or just ended up picking it randomly just to continue their study track without “losing a year” or because major X “has money”.
Few people actually take the time to make the right decision of what they want to study. Most just go through college studying what is forced on them, without any real interest in the material itself.
If you already feel that the above applies to you..you might need to reconsider your career track and why college bores you.
This is the exact reason why you might have a hard time finding a job or get below-par jobs.
Many new graduates searching for jobs, have this question in their mind “why isn’t someone hiring me?” …
It’s simple…the above explains it.
Companies only hire entry-level graduates when they’re certain they can have a positive impact on the company, how do they know? they pick people passionate in what they do and who chose their majors based on their hobbies.
So the real question is, “what can I do to be worth hiring?”
Here are some tips & pointers:
A college degree is not a golden ticket
A degree today will only help you boost yourself a bit…some extra polish…but is not the primary reason a company would hire you. A degree might give you a better chance in big corporations where they have the time and budget to invest in training programs – but usually there is much more to that, starting from your character and personal presentation to your skills.
In my company, I never hire based on degree. Hiring is done based on experience, knowledge, personality, and how much impact the person can make on the company, on personal and technical level.
For example, I rather hire someone who has been doing personal projects from school days rather than someone who has a master’s degree in computer science.
Self taught and experienced people are bound to be much more passionate and driven about what they do.
Also, keep in mind, what you are learning in college today is already outdated by at least 3-4 years..so you are learning old material, whereas someone else is already self-learning and ahead of you!
Experience is everything
I started officially working in my field when I was 13 (selling my first project), I started learning how to program when I was 10. Throughout school and college, I ran my freelance business on the side, piling up experience year after year.
As I was finishing up my last semester in college, I applied my CV to several companies at a job fair…by then, I already had some 10 years of experience, as a ‘fresh graduate’ ! All companies I applied to asked me back for interviews and gave me high offers; I had the luxury to choose the company I felt most comfortable with! Many of my friends were struggling to even get a job.
I ended up starting my first ‘entry level’ job as an intermediate developer being hired as ‘5 years experience’ instead of being a junior with entry level salary – my ‘starting’ salary was more than twice my friend’s at that time.
All you have to do is build on your passion and try to get as many projects or side jobs as you can throughout your education process. These experiences will make you learn, grow, and stay up to date.
Such experience will build your self drive, sense of independence, responsibility, and professionalism. This is exactly what companies find attractive.
Sitting around doing nothing waiting for your degree to be printed like a ticket will not take you far.
Passion is the key
Experience is one main ways to show passion in what you do.
But, other than that, you have to also emphasize your passion in your cover letters, resume, and how you present yourself!
Sending out your CV to companies and ‘selling yourself’ just to get hired anywhere will not get you a job.
If you use the same cover letter for every employer, you are probably off target and not really conveying the passion for the position you are applying for.
Employers want people who love what they do, have vision, and have the time to explain why they are right for the job.
What positive impact can you bring?
When you apply for a job, you have to ask yourself “What can I do for this company? How can I push it further? How can I help the company do better business?”
If you cannot answer these questions, then you probably shouldn’t apply!
Companies, specially small business (most are!) are only interested in hiring someone who can have a strong positive impact on the company.
When I get emails and CVs from job seekers, I can instantly tell the difference between someone just looking to get hired and someone actually passionate about what they do.
Most cases I don’t even go through all the email/CV…starting from the poor English (surprisingly very common), to the very badly presented CVs and cover letters…
A CV is an image of yourself…if you cannot prepare a nice CV that is presentable, you are just telling the company that you do not care – you will be directly ignored!
You have to make the effort to prove to companies that you are worth their time.
Take it a step further
“Success doesn’t come for those who wait”
To push yourself ahead you have to give everything you got..this means working late and/or on weekends…
“I have no time” is not an excuse…time is there, you just have to make place for things to do.
Being in college and studying means you have some time left during the day…you can either spend all of it having fun and ‘wasting time’, or split your time into fun & “building yourself”.
If you cannot dedicate time to build yourself by the time you finish college, there is no way you will find such time in the business world nor will you be able to become ahead of the rest.
These extra efforts are sacrifices one has to do to build up for his/her future.
When you start working, you will not have time to invest in yourself…but in college you do…you have to use it and build yourself so that by the time you start working, you have much bigger potential. This allows you to get greater jobs, better pay, bigger opportunities… this is when you can start enjoying your life and going up the ladder.
Otherwise you will just be a regular disgruntled employee worrying about the bills to pay at the end of the month…
so you can either be that, or you can start pushing yourself today,
which do you choose ?