Sunday, January 25, 2015

How you, as a student, can increase your marketability in the corporate world

Most students will be on the lookout for a job after graduation. They will submit their cover letters and resumes. Usually schools will have their registered list of companies, multinationals and government-link corporations to link up with the right pool of candidates.

However, the students may have other preferences as compared to the usual suspects. Therefore, there is a reasonable effort required to sell your personal profile to the selected corporate bigwigs, or at the very least, the head honchos.

Problem is, you may be trapped by the hundreds of applicants floating together, the same as you with similar set of expertise. It’s hard to get spotted when the competition is tough, especially for global firms. Likewise, students who wish to get shortlisted for freelance work tasks will have to explore channels of penetration within the sectors. How you are able to rise above the tidal waves and be noticed by specific bosses takes a smart yet calculated move.

Here are 5 ways to be smartly marketable:

1. Assemble your portfolio

You may not have the work experiences. This does not mean you don’t have the capabilities. You just need to piece your work together and sell. For example, if you are an aspiring Graphic Designer, you can compile some of your visual artwork that is commended by recognised panel experts. And if you are involved in any freelance design briefs, indicate the details in a separate document. If you are taking on the path of a medical-based profession, state the successful outcome after you are assigned to a certain scope of project during internship or fieldwork. If you are gunning for finance roles, project out your online reputation (e.g. blogs and forums) by taking web screenshots. Whatever the situation, your deliverables must be well-organized, clearly highlighting your unpolished talent. Literally, you are already selling your portfolio!

Do not try to over-emphasize how great you are. Zoom into your self-discovered abilities. Show that you have the motivation and enthusiasm to facilitate things to the next level.

2. Use Linked-In tactically

I have seen students who continuously add any corporate personnel into their Linked-In account. Remember, this is not Facebook. Quality counts. People remember vividly who you are, not by the first introduction only (unless you have some dashing faces!) The way you interact with them will cast a stronger image. Should you leave a deep impression to the right folks do politely ask if it’s alright to add them on your Linked-In account. Do it immediately. After 6 months, find out the number that you have included. It’s advisable to actively include Senior Managers first, since they may have intrinsic network of great people. Once the groundwork is done, check through their Linked-In profile. Find out their type of experiences. Thereafter, drop a message to inquire their scope of work. This will be the first line of rapport-building. Possibly, you can learn something from their non-verbal sharing. If you aggressively ask for any job opportunities and work assignments first – you may not get the intended answer back since you have not understood each other as yet.

3. Adopt meaningful communication with useful contacts

It’s not just the usual greetings of New Years and Christmas. Neither do you want to shout “Happy Birthday”, otherwise you will be seen as a stalker. What you can do subtly is to keep track of your contact’s line of work. They may post in the news feed of Linked-in. It can also be any macro-economic events that affect their business. For instance, the recent dip in oil prices. Add in your intellectual views (not complain please!) that add additional insights to the topic. Keep it professional. Try not to actively put in frequent casual responses.

Be aware of your contacts’ interests and general perception of life’s happenings - something which they have mention to you before. Bring up the topic as a conversation starter via email or private message. Subsequently, invite them out for a casual coffee chat. Then, you can subtly sell in your abilities. The most powerful way to sell is a one-to-one meet up.

4. Be charismatic with the right salesmanship

Don’t you just envy the pretty actress or well-toned gentlemen on-screen? They are the by-product of excellent marketing. Good news! As a student, you can be one too. Selling involves oozing the inner charm within you. In other words, people buy into you because they trust you. Your young salesmanship and a degree of maturity in communicating set you apart from the rest. Do address the person’s name after self-introduction.

Ask sensible questions first to get to know the other parties’ background. Listen proactively to pick up the person’s likes and dislikes. Don’t try to sell in your skills quickly. Speak slowly and articulate confidently. Pause for a few minutes to digest whatever has been said. Then, recycle the information to dive deeper into the topic of conversation. Alongside, you can use keywords within your sentences that are actually related to your portfolio. If you are a Graphic Designer, you talk about the animated character movement which you have drawn. Seek opinion. Soon, you will create the “platform of mutual understanding”.

Additionally, your style of dressing helps too. This makes it easier to sell-in your line of expertise.

5. Take on little jobs that are purposeful

Sometimes, you can take the extra mile. If there is a company that adds value to you, write to the appropriate division. Ask for roles to fill in. This is where point 1) assemble your portfolio comes in. You are able to network with brilliant people and pick up new experiences. At the same time, you produce excellent work and this strengthens your marketability. Maybe you get employed full-time. At times, you may be paid a small fee, or you can do a barter trade – free in the exchange of few pieces of testimonials. For now, the output is not the monetary terms.

Think long-term. You need people to recommend you.

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