The Student's Perspective
Kevin T. Buckley, CPC
The business world and the student world are two
different realities. As a student, you acquire
knowledge, research facts, prepare reports, discuss
your findings and are tested on what you have
learned. While there is a degree of cooperation with
others required in the academic world, you are
working to advance your personal interests for the
It is different in the business world where you
learn to apply this knowledge and coordinate
information from various sources in order to define
customer needs and solve other people’s problems on
a daily basis. Of equal importance in business is
your ability to work with other people of different
backgrounds, take direction, use initiative, extend
yourself for your employer and be viewed as a
positive person who makes a valuable contribution to
the department you are hired into.
Changing how you see yourself is important to market
yourself effectively. There are certain basic
expectations that employers have when they are
looking at new graduates and you need to convince
them to buy the product that you selling: You. The
question to ask yourself is: How can I create buyer
interest? This may mean dressing and speaking
differently and keeping foremost in mind that you
are marketing who you are and what you can
Think about your skills, your strengths and your
You need to express how you have applied yourself to
your studies, put in the extra efforts required to
learn the subjects you have studied and give
examples of how you have successfully arrived at
If you have had the opportunity to work in an
industry related co-op placement, then there is some
assessment that the employer will have, based on
your employment reference.
As an entry-level employee with no co-op history,
the employer doesn’t have a track record to measure
your performance. Instead, they will look at grades,
honours awarded, scholarships received, Dean’s list
citations and related projects completed.
They will also look at the part-time jobs that you
have held, and will be interested to hear about how
you progressed in them. The skills you used in these
jobs may be transferable to other employment. They
will look for evidence of the ability to learn
quickly, deal with customer issues, get along with
co-workers and work in an organized, self-motivated
Your extra-curricular activities are also taken into
account. If you showed a tendency to organize, be
involved, lead, assist or contribute towards a goal,
this is a good indicator of how you may behave in
Employers hire people who have demonstrated that
they care about their careers.
The fact of graduating is the first indication to a
potential employer that you will care about the work
that you do. Many employers have said to us that in
the absence of an established track record, they
will tend to hire someone on the basis of what
attitudes, energy and personality strengths they see
that can be a foundation for training and future
Confidence :self-assured in the ability to learn
quickly; certain about one's interpersonal skills;
self-motivated in seeking out new challenges to test
abilities; a deeply held belief in yourself, your
values, your standards and your worth.
Attitudes: the willingness to put in the efforts, to
stay the extra hours, to cooperate with enthusiasm,
to be eager to learn, to be realistic in terms of
expectations, to be patient with the time required
to advance, to be open to new challenges.
Responsibility: to be accountable and conscientious,
to “own” the tasks and duties assigned, to act with
integrity, honesty and with the team’s goals in
mind, to be someone that the employer can rely on to
be available and committed to doing a good job.
Energy: to work hard and seek additional work when a
project is finished; diligent and effective in using
time, determined to complete work in a dynamic and
In the employer’s mind there are several factors to
You may ask: Well, what if I haven’t got any work
experience, how do I convince them to hire me? You
first need to put yourself in the employer’s shoes.
You need to understand the employer's point of view
and concerns and address them:.
Will this person be easy to train and how long will
it take them to learn their job?
Will this person be staying long enough for us to
benefit from having trained them?
Do they have a good attitude - a willingness to
cooperate and be a good team player?
Will this person be someone who gets along well with
Will this person be someone who can take on
additional responsibilities in the future?
Does this person have realistic salary expectations?
Is this person patient enough to work through the
What influences a manager in making an entry-level
As recruiters, we often see that favorable hiring
decisions are often based on a person’s attitudes
and approach in entry-level situations. Hiring
managers, being human will tend to hire people that
they can identify with on a personal level. If you
show confidence, willingness to learn and work hard
and flexibility in an interview, you are making a
positive impression. If instead you are perceived as
demanding, arrogant, negative or unrealistic, the
opposite impression will be made. Managers like to
hire people that they like. If you show a positive
attitude in all your discussions, you will likely
experience positive attitudes from others. Each and
every interview is an important opportunity to
practice one of the key skills you will draw from
throughout your career – the ability to network with
other people. In the end, a decision to hire you
will be influenced not only by what you have done
and how you have expressed yourself, but also by who
you are as a person and whether or not you have
convinced the employer that you are a person that
will fit the department and be someone that they
want to work with in the future.
You have made the first positive step forward in
your career through your education. It is up to you
to tell the potential employer how you arrived here
and where you can make your best contribution.