By Amanda Hill
Blog Content Contributer
Pursuing your vision of success
“If you could be anything in the world, what would you be?” This is a question we have been asked practically since kindergarten. Some of us have diverted from that image of ourselves, while others strive to achieve that image. No matter what we wish to achieve as individuals, it is important to know what matters to employers as you progress through life selling yourself as an individual and developing a personal brand.
What matters to employers
William Banholzer states that employers want “brilliant people who are creative and curious and can communicate”. The curious are willing to learn. Employers seek learning potential in individuals based on their participation in various activities. Learning potential can have a larger impact than your expertise in a particular field when it comes to being chosen for hire.
Banholzer also states, “students need to be personally accountable for their own careers and intellectual development”. He is referring to the importance of the breadth of knowledge in individuals, and not particularly depth of knowledge in our expertise. This is known as a “T-shaped skill set”. Along with the development of this ‘T shaped skill set’ comes respect and efficiency in the work you do. This will allow you to develop a competitive edge as you look for employment.
The impact of communication skills on future opportunities
The ability to clearly articulate your thoughts to others is a strength many employers yearn for. Demonstrating your skill to communicate is crucial in interviews or just speaking with your boss and coworkers. Employers realize that the ability to communicate ideas effectively is just as imperative as envisioning the idea. As Nancy Forces and Basil Mahon state in their book Faraday, Maxwell and the Electromagnetic Field, “his scientific genius lay not simply in producing experimental results that had eluded everyone else but in explaining them too”. Demonstrating good communication skills: maintaining eye contact, exemplifying appropriate body language, developing an adequate vocabulary, and tailoring your message to the language of your audience. It is crucial to obtain a clear understanding of the message you are delivering, as well as the audience you are articulating the message to.
Opportunities to strive towards
Going after opportunities outside your field is a good way to develop a broad range of skills to integrate valuable insight into your work. There are various areas of expertise in our chosen fields, but unfortunately it is easy to specialize in just one or two skill sets. Instead we should gain understanding of the varying perspectives in our industry. We can take advantage of opportunities such as: job shadowing, informational interviews, and cooperative education as college students to acquire diverse wisdom.
First step in fulfilling your idea of achievement
I agree that structuring yourself for success can be overwhelming. What is important is the realization that the competition is fierce and striking the eye of an employer is not easy. Now is the time to clarify what you want in life and seek ways to make your life-long vision transpire. Set specific goals for yourself, along with a specific timeline. This will instill confidence in you, and will help you overcome the hardships of this journey. Follow the SMART Goals methodology of being specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound when forming your goals. Keep in mind what is impressive to employers, and let passion guide the rest of the way.