College News explores how to apply for your dream job—without the skill set.
The daunting task of applying for your dream job fresh out of college is met with the even more daunting list of “skills required” at the point of application. For most students, this overwhelming list of “things-we-can’t-do” is enough to scare us away. But major hiring managers attest to giving it your best shot and applying for your dream job anyway.
What skills do you actually need for your dream job?
While the list of skills on a job spec may seem profuse, it’s essentially an employer’s wish list of candidate attributes. The general rule is that if you have at least 50 percent of the skills required, then you should go confidently forward in your job application. Since you probably have some of the skills you’ll see listed, the goal suddenly becomes reachable.
A careerbuilder.com survey found that 16 percent of employers valued soft skills over hard skills— soft skills that students tend to acquire throughout their time at university. The survey’s top 10 soft skills included a strong work ethic, self-motivation, management of multiple priorities and effective communication.
Jeff Vijungco, Adobe VP of global talent selection and development, said “We want individuals with a unique skill set that complements the team, a sense of urgency to deliver beyond what’s possible and ‘we’ rather than ‘me’ team players,” in a 2014 post on LinkedIn by Brendan Browne.
Reach out to those working in your desired industry and pick their brains over a cup of coffee before applying for your dream job. Their personal experience with the job, with what’s expected of them and how they have progressed in their careers will help you make sense of which path to take in your own.
You might also enjoy: Using LinkedIn
You will find that a lot of job vacancies aren’t actually advertised, and so building a professional network in your industry is a key component to moving towards your dream job. Attend industry events, lectures and seminars, and take training classes to get a feel for the industry and to get to know important people.
When building your professional network, it is important to communicate with effective language as you discuss your experiences. These include words such as “achieved,” “managed,” “resolved,” and “influenced” followed by specific examples, showcasing your personality and skills to prospective employers.
Learn the skills you need
Alternatively, research the skills you might need before applying for your dream job and acquire them. For example, if your dream job is to design magazines, then design a magazine. Pull together a team of people to help plan, write and produce the project for an impressive portfolio that not only shows functional ability, but exhibits initiative, project management and problem solving.
You might want to consider freelancing for companies similar to the one you’d like to work for to build experience and a reputation as someone who delivers work with quality results. This is also an effective way to build your network and to build on soft skills such as time management and organization.
When you finally get the call to come in for an interview, the hiring manager will (consciously or not) make mental notes about your personality. Recruiters will look for those with attributes that fit the organization. Rosy Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder said that companies look for “someone who is not only proficient in a particular function, but also has the right personality,” in a report by businessnewsdaily.com. “It’s important to highlight soft skills that can give employers an idea of how quickly you can adapt and solve problems, whether you can be relied on to follow through, and how effectively you can lead and motivate others,” she said.
The interview is the time to convey that you have leadership skills, are trustworthy and can motivate yourself and others in difficult situations. The right personality can be the difference between getting your dream job or not.
Even though you may have done everything you can to snap up your dream job, rejection happens. Ask hiring managers for some feedback regarding your application and make notes for a more successful “next time.”
Do you have any personal experiences with applying for your dream job? Let College News know!