A degree may help you start your career, but it is only skills that will build your career.
With changes happening in industries, technology, global economy, it has become important, albeit a tad difficult, to be prepared for the career you have in mind for yourself.
There is also the fear that with increase in use of technology, many conventional, manual jobs will be phased out or replaced by robots.
Having said that there are many industries creating countless new-age jobs.
The skill set required to be successful in college and the skill sets required to succeed in a corporate are like chalk and cheese.
It is imperative that one is aware of all possible employment opportunities that exist in their respective fields and what employers expect from fresh graduates.
Apart from related technical skills, there are many other areas graduates should focus and prepare themselves for their first job that would lead them to a robust career path.
The following tips should help.
1. Assess your skills
Making a career choice can be a daunting task and should not be done by mere likes/dislikes. Consider your aptitude, knowledge and skills.
Various behavioural and skills assessments can be found for you to understand oneself.
Find out what skills you possess and what career can be made of it.
2. Make a wishlist. Learn a skill
Make a wishlist of the kind of companies you want to work with and the jobs you want to take up.
Next, understand the expectations from job seekers for these roles.
Match them with your skills, knowledge and aptitude. Identify the gap between their expectations and your skills. Make a road map to learn new skills or upgrade existing ones.
Most employers look for fundamental skills such as interpersonal communication, soft skills and English language skills in new hires.
It is always worthwhile to take time out for skilling, reskilling and upskilling yourself.
Many of you may not want to start working in a full time job right away. Do take time to apprentice with employers.
Even if these apprenticeships are not in the industry or function where you want to find permanent employment, they will help you immensely in understanding the softer aspects of working in an organisation.
Many also provide stipend to apprentices, so you can also earn while you learn.
Understand what value you would be able to add to the company when you start working.
Employment is an earned privilege, not a right -- even with various degrees and certificates there are no promises or guarantees.
Employees are the biggest asset to any organisation, and those who add value have the best jobs.
5. Learn to articulate
Many young graduates find it difficult to explain what they want to do, what skills they possess and what kind of work would fit them fine.
At the time of your personal interview, providing relevant information about oneself becomes a huge task.
To find the right employment, you'll need to objectively and effectively articulate and pitch your skills and achievements.
6. Travel and/or Volunteer
Getting the right job will take time. And while you do so, you can always participate in various community activities within or outside your place of stay.
Travelling to newer places will help you gain social skills, survival skills and management skills.
Volunteering to work in the social sector will enable to you interact directly with public/beneficiaries and expand your horizons.
7. Get tech savvy
In today's day and age, everyone is hooked onto social media and largely for personal connects. However, technology can be used for larger purposes as well.
It helps to stay updated about the latest technology and innovation in one's field of interest. This will help you learn quicker and perform better at the workplace.
Having a good reference, be it your teachers, family friends or even other professionals can be a differentiating factor.
Gather 3 to 5 references that can be given easily when your potential employers ask.
9. Dealing with failure
At the start of our careers, most of us have a 'can't fail' approach. Remember, not everything you do would be always successful.
In the global economy, failure is an accepted part of doing business.
As long as we learn from our failures and mistakes and apply these learnings to new situations quickly it is fine.
We need to keep in mind that failure should not be due to laziness, lack of interest, skills and hardwork.
Despite putting in your best efforts, if you fail, learn from your past and move on to new areas.
10. Get a life
Of course education, degree and certificates are important and rather critical in shaping our future. But just these will not help you grow in your professional career.
Get a life outside of academics. Know and learn a new topic outside your field. Forge an identity, look for a source of joy and meaning and continue putting your best foot forward.
Remember, different organisations have different expectations about attendance, dressing rules, communication etc.
Be prepared to unlearn some of the things you have learnt all your life. You may have to relearn them in the context of the organisation you work with.
This is just the beginning for a long and fruitful professional life. Be prepared, learn from your mistakes and enjoy the journey.
The author Neeti Sharma is senior vice president, TeamLease Services Limited, a recruiting and staffing consultancy.
Lead image: Unsplash/Pixabay.com