I'm always excited around this time of year when I get to see so many of the undergraduate members of Sigma Pi that I've worked with over the years get to graduation. One look at my Facebook account tells the tale of so many graduates that are eager and excited to take that next step in life. The leadership skills, communication skills, the lifelong friendships, and the values you take from Sigma Pi will take you to great heights. Here's the good news. According to a recent Gallup survey, your Greek affiliation leads to a higher sense of well-being, workplace engagement, support, experiential learning, and emotional attachment to your University. These are all traits that make you very attractive to a potential employer.
However, when I look at the job reports, one might be concerned about the prospects for a job as a new graduate. According to some recent studies, more than half of America's recent college graduates are either unemployed or working in a job that doesn't require a bachelor's degree. So, how do we ensure that you end up with the job you really want?
As someone who sees hundreds of resumes, cover letters, and lists of references, let me help you a bit. It's going to take more than just a good school and a good GPA to get you the job you really want.
1. Adding "Sigma Pi Fraternity" to your resume is really nice, but you need to quantify your accomplishments for your chapter. What did you actually accomplish? Did you sit in the back of the chapter meeting with no input, or did you hold a position? If you were the Treasurer, don't just add your position, but tell me that you reduced the chapter's expenses by 29%. As a hiring officer, I will tell you that's a much better approach. Then I can figure out how you can help my organization if I were to hire you. If you were the recruitment chairman, tell me that you grew the chapter's size by 41%. I'll ask you questions about how you accomplished that goal. Quantifying your contributions makes a big difference when I'm reviewing over 100 resumes for the position. Remember that you are running a small business while in college. Not every college graduate gets that kind of hands on experience. That's a big accomplishment, but you need to know how to position that experience and make it relevant to the job search.
Come prepared with a list of success stories at college that you can relate to the business you are applying for. Then speak about those success stories!
2. Do you have a plan? I ask this question all the time: "If you got this position, what would your goals be over the first 90 days?" If you can't answer that, I wonder how much you really want this job in particular, and someone else's passion for the position will be the difference maker. Also, please come prepared with a list of thoughtful questions for the person who is doing the interview. That shows me that you've put thought into this position.
3. Be a problem solver. Is that organization struggling with some issue that you can detect? By doing some basic research on the company, you might find areas that you can assist with. The highest paid and the most successful employees are the ones that consistently bring solutions to problems, time and time again. I can't stress that enough.
4. Do I want to work with you? If you have a negative attitude, you don't seem passionate about the job, or I don't think you'll fit in with our team, you won't get the job. People buy from people they like. They also hire people they like.
5. Network, network, network. Hopefully you started this process long before you were actually looking for a job. You can network online (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter), you can network in your Fraternity (Regional Alumni Clubs), at work, at home (family/friends), professional networking organizations in your city (use the Google machine for this), your local Chamber of Commerce, volunteer groups in your city, hobby/health/sports activities, and religious organizations. These are all places for you to showcase your skills and get leads on new opportunities, but you need to be committed to the process long term. You can't microwave relationships.
6. Tell me you want the job. I'm not talking about making a hint, beating around the bush here, or saying it in a roundabout way. I'm a New Yorker. Look me in the eye, shake my hand with a firm handshake, and say "I really want this job."
7. Write thank you notes. I'm not talking about an email. A real, handwritten, on nice paper, thank you note. It's a forgotten art. When I get one in the mail, it sets you apart from the others because it's just not done all that often any more. It tells me you care.
Good luck. I'm going to be cheering for you to hit the game winning home run. Sigma Pi has given you all the tools you need to be successful. We can't help if you never get out of the batter's box. Now get up to the plate and swing.