Selling yourself is a life-time job

You have a Computer Science degree. Now what?

I was doing my weekly shopping in Home Depot and I was helped by Carl, who is a recent graduate  of Radford University’s College of Information Science and Technology.

He had a degree in Computer Science, but had been unable to find work in his chosen field, so he was working at Home Depot. A few minutes of conversation showed me that he was not only personable, but he knew his field well enough that he would be a useful addition to any company looking for a System Administrator or any number of entry level jobs requiring technical knowledge and a good manner with customers.

Why was this fellow not employed?

He had attended a school which has the stated goal to equip students with the skills, knowledge and abilities needed to build successful careers in a 21st century global information economy.

According to the Radford University website, the College of Information Science and Technology curriculum provides the theoretical foundation necessary for a career in information technology while grounding that theory with hand-on use of current tools. From databases to routers, our students have the opportunity to link theory and application. Their mission statement covers this in greater detail.

I asked Carl if he was networking and he thought I meant building computer networks. He had no concept of the value of personal networking as a source of job referrals. He had submitted his resume to several regional employment lists, but had done no personal selling effort.

I gave him my 60 second elevator pitch about personal referrals accounting for 85% of all job placements and stressed that he had to tell everyone he knew about his job search.

He got it immediately.

I told that my book, Danger Quicksand – Have A Nice Day, has a lot of vital job-finding tactics and was still available as a free download. That brought in a smile and he said he wanted to read my book.

He asked me for the URL and immediately wrote it down. I think he will be out of Home Depot sooner than he expects.

An opportunity for colleges and universities

What intrigued me most was that this new graduate had all of the tools and skills to be a productive member of many different companies, but he did not have the tools he needs to land a job.

If there are many more graduates like Carl, there is a counseling opportunity for people who actually know the ropes of handling interviews and networking for employment opportunities. I consider it to be a waste of valuable resources when new graduates are not trained as competent networkers.

Without this skill, it is almost like a graduate is an unfinished product. They may have all sorts of capabilities but are not able to market themselves effectively.

What do you think?

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