It takes a combination of tangibles and intangibles to succeed in today’s dynamic and ever-evolving business world. Competition is fierce. You need an amazing college resume, but that can’t be all you have going for you. Not only do employees and job-seekers need to reach their mark through performance-measured benchmarks, to achieve continued job success an engaging personality and relationship-building skills are needed. We’ve asked professors and administrators at several universities throughout the nation to share their words of wisdom that aren’t found in lectures or in textbooks.
Be eager to learn
Your bosses and colleagues are teachers conveying information that you have to know. “You have to understand that you will be tested on it under the most stressful of circumstances,” says Steven Miller, coordinator of undergraduate studies for the Rutgers University Department of Journalism and Media Studies in New Brunswick, NJ. Your grade will be your paycheck, he says. “If you want to earn the highest mark – the most money — you have to pass all of the exams with the highest marks. If you want to be held back, don’t perform at 100 percent,” he adds.
Be a networking superstar
Effective networking is vital to job success. “This is true for students of any age, including adult learners,” says Laura Sankovich, faculty chair, MBA, where she oversees operations for the MBA at Capella University in Coeur d’Alene, ID. She recommends volunteering on committees and says networking with chambers of commerce and professional organizations specific to your career or area of study is essential to broaden your network.
“Volunteering on committees gives prospective employers an opportunity to see your work in action,” Sankovich adds.
She also points out that students of all ages can feel like earning the degree is enough, “but that’s rarely the case.”
“To set yourself apart and give you the best opportunity to get the job you want in the career you desire takes networking and volunteering to show prospective employers what you have to offer,” she continues. “These steps will keep you top-of-mind when the employers in your circle have a need. Who knows? They might even create a job just for you.”
Be willing to take on more work
Having a strong work ethic will make you shine. “It’s working both smarter and harder,” says Thao Nelson, senior associate director, undergraduate career services, at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, IN. “As a manager, I notice when staff come early and stay late. So show up and work hard, you will get noticed and rewarded.” Nelson advises to say yes and take risks. “Raise your hand for projects and assignments, even if you feel you’re not qualified or ready,” she says. “You might fail, and that’s okay. If you make a mistake, own it, and learn from it. Eventually, you will be the ‘go to’ person.”
Realize your boss can be your best advocate
Nelson says to make your boss shine and you will too. “Your boss is your best advocate, so it’s important to make them look good without coming off as a kiss-up,” she explains. “Offer help when you can.”
Mind your body language
What you say is only part of what you are communicating when interacting in the business world. “Body language can be a powerful tool for career success, given employers may interpret your level of interest in a position within just seconds based on your nonverbal signals,” says Stacy Moore, director of career services, Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, PA.
“From the firmness of your handshake to your facial expressions, posture and eye contact, these subtle cues can go a long way when it comes to conveying your message and value to a potential employer,” she added. “Be sure to make eye contact during a handshake, stand/sit up straight and become aware of your nonverbal cues to ensure you are communicating the message you intend.”
Ask for what you want
Regina Luttrell, Ph.D., assistant professor, public relations, at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY, states to never be afraid to ask for what you want. “Use your voice, speak up, and ask,” she says. “Is the worst possible outcome a no? Perhaps. But unless you ask, you will never know. Sometimes, that ask is a door that opens.”
Although professors can teach students their craft – be that writing, pulling together reports, campaigns, or data – there’s more to do, Luttrell says. “We can’t, however, teach a student to have the drive and willingness to go above and beyond, to be curious, or take chances,” she continues. “Those qualities must come from within the person.”
Negotiate your salary
You only get one chance, says Luttrell. “Use it well,” she stresses. “This is especially important for females. Once a person is hired standard raises tend to fluctuate between 2.5% – 3%.”