I'm an alumnus of University of Keele (Biochemistry, 1993) and have been invited to go back in a couple of weeks to address students, staff and graduates on job seeking. I'll be putting together a list of useful sites, which will include the Manager Tools podcasts, for them and collating guidance.

I'd also like to be able to point them to advice from other knowledgeable people, hence this question here.

If you were giving advice to college/university graduates on job seeking what is the one thing you would want them to remember if they forget everything else you said, the key bottom line point.

I'll be putting together a web page on my own site to point them to and putting in links to the useful sites. If I get any responses I'll include a link to this thread as well as to the main site, unless there's any objection in which case I'll copy and paste the responses (with attributions) to a page on my own site.



bffranklin's picture
Training Badge


My most powerful takeaway (and the thing I wish that I knew when I was in school) is that accomplishments are king. So do an independent study, take on something larger than you need to for an in class project, find yourself an internship or entry level job and get those accomplishments to set you apart from the rest! Do not settle for average performance on the job.

jhack's picture

A bit longer than you might have hoped for, but Steve Jobs spoke to the graduating class at Stanford three years ago:

"Stay hungry. Stay foolish."


cb_bob's picture

Learn to communicate effectively.

Somebody else will always know more programming languages, more software programs, have more experience and/or knowledge in some areas than you but being the most effective communicator will get you a win every time.

wendii's picture
Admin Role Badge


there's been a series on one the blogs I read this week, which might inspire you.

As for my tuppence worth? You're never finished. Just today, I had two massive revelations about why I do the things I do, and how they are not helping me. I hope to say the same at 66!


TomW's picture
Training Badge

I'd tell them two things:
1) Focus on results, not responsibilities, but never put results so high that you hurt others to get them
2) Be prepared to diversify. Most of the top industries out there are those that require skills in two or more areas, like in engineering and biology (say, making robotic prosthetics or ear implants), architecture and medical research (my company builds research labs), or technology and sociology (someone knew iPods would take off years before they actually did).

stephenbooth_uk's picture

Thank you very much for the responses. I think that I could have really used this advice 15 years ago when I graduated. :-)


ChrisG*son's picture

Read Horstman’s Laws.

Especially #1 (“It’s All About People”) and #3 (You’re Not That Smart; They’re Not That Stupid”).

Most recent graduates I’ve seen have struggled with the same stuff I did. In college, success is all about intelligence and work ethic, and projects are typically done individually or as a part of a short-term team with no official hierarchy. Life outside of college is very different. In the professional world, being “right” isn’t nearly as important as being influential. It’s all about people (skills)!

This is less about job hunting than success after landing the job. But a college grad who spent time in the interview talking about how they successfully worked with people of other styles, motivations, and skills would certainly impress me.

Congratulations on being invited back to speak at your alma mater! That’s certainly something to be proud of.

tcomeau's picture
Training Badge

I like this:

The one thing I want kids (which includes everybody under 25) to know, and to think about, is that there is great value in living just a little below your means.

Having a savings account with three to six months' salary means you can quit a bad job, or make it through rehab after a bad accident, or decide getting an advanced degree is worth the effort. Having some investments that would cover you for a year means you can start your own business, or decide that you've changed your mind and that it really is time to have a baby, or that Kilimanjaro and Denali were great and this really is the time to try Everest.

And if you never do any of those things, or they end up costing less than you feared, when you're 50 you'll have quite a lot of money in the bank, and can decide it's time to quit working a job and start working on changing the world, or enjoying the time you have left in it. If you never use it, you've still lived a bit more lightly on the Earth, and you've left a legacy unconsumed, either to your heirs or to humanity at large.

Living below your means doesn't mean being uncomfortable. It does mean finding a job that pays well enough to support you, but setting some of it aside. It means you have to do some planning and thinking about budgets, demonstrate that you can execute a plan, and that you can both stick to a plan and demonstrate flexibility when necessary. If that impresses employers, that's great, too.


sklosky's picture


I might be too late to jump in here . . .

I think that networking is the most vital portion of the transition from college to the workplace.

If I had invested more time in maintaining the network of contacts from college, I'd be in a better place today. I recall that one of the manager-tools podcasts highlighted this. This is certainly highlighted in the first cast.

Good luck with your address and good luck to the graduates!


stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="ChrisG*son"]Congratulations on being invited back to speak at your alma mater! That’s certainly something to be proud of.[/quote]

Thanks. I'm wondering how to sneak it onto my Resume.

Terror is currently overwhelming pride, but that's quite normal. I know a number of stand up comedians who appear totally collected and confident on stage, they all say that 10 seconds before they go on they're cowering in the toilets absolutely positive that they're going to Bambi and totally fail. Then they step out onto the stage and BAM, they shine.