If you’re a college student, you’ve no doubt tired of people asking, “What are your plans after graduation?” Uh, find a job?
Then starts an inevitable stream of career advice and how the “real world” works, and blah-blah-blah. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to get guidance from someone who has already started his or her career. But some of the conventional “advice” does more harm than good if you swallow it whole.
Sure, there’s always some truth in an old saw. But here are some counterpoints to conventional wisdom that are good to consider when you’re sorting through the best entry level sales jobs or just starting out in that first job after college:
Chestnut No. 1: “Make yourself as available as possible for work.”
The truth: “Your personal time is valuable.”
It’s easy to feel like you have to be chained to your desk after you get hired, especially if you want to make a good impression. That can mean late nights, early mornings and nonexistent weekends. Although young employees think this makes them look dedicated, it actually sets you up for years of grunt work. If your boss sees that you are willing to abandon your social life, he is going to expect you to do that your entire time with the company.
Instead, allow yourself a set amount of time to worry about work each day. When it’s time to go home, put it on the back burner. If your boss sees you being productive while you’re at the office he won’t expect you to stay late every night.
Chestnut No. 2: “Hold out for your dream job.”
The truth: “Don’t be a job snob.”
It can be difficult to take a job you’re overqualified to do, especially when you have a $30,000 diploma. If you receive a job offer that isn’t what you expected, look at the big picture. Do you have the possibility to move up or learn new skills? Accepting a lower position also gives you the chance to show your boss you want to help the company in any way you can.
Chestnut No. 3: “Writing isn’t important after college.”
The truth: “Good writing skills are essential.”
Let me say that again. Good writing is ESSENTIAL. It is one of our most basic forms of communication. If you are in a position that doesn’t allow you a lot of face time with your boss, he or she is going to put a lot of stock in emails, notes or anything else written under your name. That means you have to know what a dependent clause is. You have to know how to spell (or at least be smart enough to employ a spellchecker). You know every sentence requires a subject and verb. Your employer takes pride in the company’s reputation, and your poor grammar could eventually reflect badly.
Chestnut No. 4: “You must be a good multi-tasker to be successful.”
The truth: “Take the time to get the job done right.”
Yes, it is important that you are able to juggle tasks. But don’t confuse busy with productive. Just because you have seven browsers open, are on a conference call and texting your friend about dinner plans does not mean you’re getting things done. If your brain is pulled in that many many directions, you’re actually concentrating less on the tasks you’re being paid to accomplish. You’ll be judged on that. Instead, focus on one thing at a time and make sure you get it done right.
Chestnut No. 5: “Admitting you’re jobless while you hunt for work makes you look available.”
The truth: “Telling potential employers you’re jobless is a big red flag.”
Some people think it’s an advantage to be jobless because they can start right away. Actually, it makes employers question why you aren’t working. Even if it’s as a grocery store cashier, you need to be employed. This will give you a much better chance of being picked for a start-up sales position because it will show you have initiative and don’t want to sit around waiting for something to be handed to you.