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6 Jun 2010

New grads play to their strengths on job hunt

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June 6, 2010 Category: Color Of Money Posted by:



Fresh from school with diploma in hand, new graduates face a daunting reality on the job hunt. It’s a rough transition to make, especially in a tough job market, so they need to use every advantage to gain a foothold.


“The idea is navigate yourself into positions that play to your strengths,” says Chuck Martin, CEO of the management research firm NFI Research. “It’s about matching what you have to what others need.”


Consider your assets: experience, connections and strengths.


Experience: Pump up your resume with internship positions, volunteer work and honors. While it may seem trivial to you, a future employer sees responsibility and commitment.


Connections: No doubt mom and dad are already trying to get your foot in the door somewhere, but don’t forget about your own connections. Tap into your alumni network, spread the word among friends, attend networking events, and simply get out there and meet people – online and off.


Strengths: Everyone has unique skill set with both learned and innate skills. But what employers really want to know is how your skills apply to their job, so start figuring out what you have to offer.


“If you’re not in a position where your strongest skills are vital, you’re not likely to excel,” explains Martin. “You may be a smart person but still feel you’re in the wrong position at work or even the wrong career – and you may be right. Your brain is hard-wired to function a specific way.”


Martin, along with co-authors neuropsychologist Richard Guare and education psychologist Peg Dawson, argue that certain “executive skills” can actually help you determine the right career direction in their new book “Work Your Strengths.” Executive skills are the cognitive skills that determine how well you perform a task. High-performers in different fields are endowed with different strengths in their executive skill sets. So if you know your strengths, you can learn to work them too.


Here are five quick examples of executive skills and how different strengths can play into a future career:


Good memory: Can you remember what everyone ordered for dinner last night and what they wore? A good working memory is an essential skill for salespeople, who must recall vital details about their clients in order to build lasting relationships with them.


Organization: Do you know where everything in your house is because you have a system for keeping things in the right place? High-performers in the customer service industry are defined by their excellent organization because they often have simple procedures in place to help customers get what they need and fast.


Flexibility: If you’re able to juggle many tasks at the same time and can change plans instantly, you must be an excellent problem solver. People in creative fields such as marketing and advertising need this skill in order to change quickly as markets – and clients’ minds – change.


Planning/prioritization: Do you often find yourself thinking ahead to what’s next? Think about going into information technology (IT), where they need excellent planners who can roadmap a project through every stage.


Task initiation: A lot of people have a hard time getting the ball rolling, but if you’re one of those exceptional people who can start things up on your own, maybe you should look into the medical field. People who are quick on their feet are terrific in an emergency.


To further identify your skills, a customized profile and career match is offered free online with a purchase of “Work Your Strengths,” which is available now at bookstores and online at


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