When I meet with students about their job search, I discuss the need to get an employer’s attention in 3 areas:
- Skills and knowledge necessary to do the job
- Fit with the culture of the organization
- Passion for the role and/or industry
For most Illinois Tech students I meet, points 1 & 2 generally make sense. However, point 3 is often overlooked – why would a job seeker need to show passion when they have the in-demand skills needed to be successful?
Passion, though, is an indication of some very important intangibles for employers – persistence, grit, loyalty, just to name a few. Employers spend a lot of money and other resources recruiting candidates, and making a wrong hire is very expensive for an organization. Not only do they want to hire someone who can do the work, but they also want someone that is going to stick around and create value over time for the organization. Getting across to the employer a passion for the work expected of the position can put employers at ease about the possibility of making that commitment to a particular candidate.
So, how do you, the job seeker, show, or project, passion? Here are three quick and easy ways:
- Project passion through social media profiles and posts – Any social media profile that you use for your career search should clearly show passion for the industry you plan to go into. LinkedIn is probably the most notable, but others such as Handshake, Github, even Facebook, are important. With LinkedIn, there is an opportunity to show passion in both the Headline (the words under your name) and through the ‘About’ section. Channel that personal statement you wrote for admission about why you wanted to study a particular major and update it for your professional profile! Take the time to post and comment on interesting articles about trends in your field to catch the eye of members of your network.
- Complete a personal project – Until you get an internship, there is not a lot of opportunities to show a direct connection to your field outside of mostly compulsory academic projects. However, taking the time to complete a project completely on your own related to your field of study shows initiative and interest in what you’ve been learning in school. When I’ve talked to employers at Career Fairs, personal projects is often cited as one thing that sets an applicant apart from everyone else, all other things being equal!
- Volunteer your skillset to a non-profit/charity – You may already been engaged with a non-profit or have an interest to volunteer to help out in the community. A lot of these organizations also need help in areas that often could use your skillset. Improve a website, analyze data, help put together an effective marketing campaign – any cash-strapped non-profit is always looking for individuals ready to help out in these areas.
Summer is a great time to implement these steps, so get to updating your profiles and strategizing about potential summer projects. And don’t hesitate to visit career services to discuss how you can best project passion to get the attention of your dream employers!