Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pomp and Happenstance

My sincerest congratulations go out to this spring's group of college graduates. As was explained to me when I graduated in December of 2000, I won't wish you luck, because it probably won't help. You see, the economy is currently, as it was then, in something of a slide. Granted, my degree in Information Science locked me deeper into the dotcom bust (yes, children, things were much different in the world of the Internet nine years ago), but the concept is much the same. The economy is on a downturn, there are many (read: many, many, many, many) people currently unemployed, currently applying for the same jobs that you are, and far more qualified for them than you. Some will be discounted because of over-qualification, others ignored based purely on age (which, incidentally, is illegal), but for every posting on Monster, Careerbuilder, Dice or even Hudson Valley Help Wanted, there are hundreds if not thousands of applicants. Having a snazzy resume really only gets you in the door - if, of course, lady luck is on your side.

Communication. Presentation. Speakability (hey, if Bud can use a stupid word, I can too). In short, you need to know how to speak - one on one, to an interviewer, as well as to groups in presentation. It should not matter one iota who you are speaking to, you should have learned a comfort level while in college, while taking at least one communications course. Didn't take a communications course? Well, then, at least one of your classes must have forced you to stand up in front of the class and present, right? No? You avoided those types of classes because they were too hard or too scary? If you have any interest in an income that doesn't include the words, "please drive around," I might recommend signing up for summer school. If, however, you are done with school, there are a few things that you can do to bolster your resolve (and your resume).

One recommendation is to take a sales job of some sort. Whether it's cold calling on the phone, or the even more difficult cold calling in person, few things can prepare you for facing rejection like actually facing rejection. After a while, you develop the age old philosophy of "every no is closer to the next yes" that many sales folks subscribe to. A bit after that, you actually learn how to speak in ways that turns some of those no's into maybe's. Keep in mind that everything in life is sales, like it or not (and, honestly, I don't know if I do... but it is what it is). Job interview? That's selling yourself. Corporate presentation? Selling your ideas. Everything is sales in some respect or another.

Alright, you're not going door to door for commissions. Heck, you actually landed a job that you don't mind so much, but you're far at the bottom, and not certain how to move up. Got a friend with a band? When I used to do booking for my own band, I had to make presentations, establish a press kit, and made a LOT of phone calls... and then maintained everything with an excel spreadsheet. It wasn't a business, but it certainly was something of a skill that I developed that helped me figure out how to pitch things, how to sell myself, and how to get the right mind set towards easing my apprehension. These days, I can talk to just about anyone (and most friends will swear that I do, at length). Old or young, gorgeous or ugly, rich or poor, it doesn't really matter because I don't tend to have fear of too many people out there these days... I've talked to so many. So, the next time I'm faced with a job interview or a review or a presentation, I'm not too worried about it, and my odds of success are fairly strong. How are yours? That's what I thought. Hang on, I have the course catalog for University at Albany's summer session around here somewhere...

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