There is an important truth you need to be aware of as you are applying for your first full time job after college: you possess a unique combination of skills and talents that, if leveraged in the right environment, can be a huge asset to an organization. From the candidate’s perspective, it is easy to focus exclusively on the perceived attributes various employers look for in candidates, and then try to conform to those standards. Increasingly, interview preparation becomes more about reading job descriptions and then trying your best to look like the “ideal” candidate. Instead, you should be spending time thinking about what your personal strengths and weaknesses are, and where you will ultimately flourish both on a professional and personal level. Below are some thoughts about how to adopt the right job search mindset and know your self worth.
Don’t select based on fear, select based on hope
Nobody likes the idea of moving into your parent’s basement post graduation, and the fear of this future scenario can lead us to make rash decisions such as accepting the first job you are offered, or even accepting any offer your friends and parents deem desirable. What gets left behind during this process are usually your actual hopes, dreams, and ambitions. You are unique and valuable, and if you walk out of an interview feeling uninspired and/or disrespected, think again whether this is how you want to feel every day at work.
Companies aren’t interviewing you, you are interviewing them
When it comes down to it, most companies need a great employee much more than a great employee needs the company. The difference between a good and a great employee is not necessarily determined by individual merit, but rather the overall congruence between a company’s culture and work environment and that individual’s unique gifts and talents. Therefore, stop thinking of interviews as a process where you are either selected or rejected, start thinking of it as the journey of discovering which type of environment and company will help you best leverage the unique skill set that has made you successful in the past. A steep career at a company that highly values your contributions will be the natural consequence.
Do you know yourself?
I can only reiterate how important it is for you to know your strengths and, more importantly perhaps, your weaknesses. By this I don’t mean whether you’re good at math or history, I am talking about your personal attributes and preferences at the macro level. If you are an independent thinker, don’t join a place where people think for you. If you like to be told what to do next, don’t join a startup. You get the idea. Know that you are unique and can add value in ways that no one else can. All you have to do is find the place that will let you do so.