You obtained your Bachelor’s degree. You completed your internship. You have the letters of recommendation. And, totally clueless about the reality of the working world, you dive in head first trying to find a job – submitting applications to any and every opening, you can find. After months of this labor-intensive process, you have yet to receive an offer letter. How frustrating is that?
Selling yourself to potential employers is difficult. More often than not, you find yourself face-to-face with a blank computer screen attempting to compose that one short masterpiece on why you are the best applicant for the role. Nevertheless, despite this all “about me” moment, one of the most common mistakes recent grads make when applying for a job is failing to stand out.
Candidates apply to the same positions underlining the same quintessential talents and expect to be noticed. (e.g., proficient with computers, strong writing abilities, or great team player). Recruiters look for bright candidates with specific skill sets. If you want to stand out from the crowd and kick-start your career, my advice is to adopt a specialization!
Companies want to hire employees who offer divergent perspectives and expertise to their teams. Therefore, being knowledgeable in a high-demand subject area is immensely valuable – you will always be needed. But before choosing a specialization, you must first discover your true interests. You must find your sweet spot: the intersection where you can follow your passion, diversify your skills and fulfill your needs. Here’s how:
Step 1: Find Your Passion
Discovering your passion will elevate you out of the mundane into the realm of the best opportunities. It provides you with a sense of fulfillment, even at times of tiredness and discouragement. The key to discerning your niche is finding the livelihood that’s a natural extension of the real you. Get deep and identify what matters. Listen to what makes you feel alive.
Once you find your passion, you want to narrow it down so you’re not standing in a crowd of “samesies.” By narrowing your function, you become unique. For instance, you don’t want to just be a counterterrorism expert; you want to be a counterterrorism expert specializing in the nexus of terrorism and drug trafficking in the Golden Crescent (Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan).
Step 2: Evaluate Your Skill Sets
A part of selecting the right specialization is being able to identify your strong suits so you can capitalize on them. Your knowledge and proficiency are what makes you profitable. Therefore, take the time to discover your strengths, and what unique qualities you propose.
The best part is that there is no other person like you out there. No one writes like you, talks like you, or has your story, your voice, or your exact skills. Once you’re done itemizing your strengths, research the required skill sets of specialists in your desired area to ascertain whether this is the right field for you.
Step 3: Research the Demand for Specialists in Your Desired Field
Probing a specialist’s projected income and employment rate in your desired profession is indispensable:
Knowing the Salary Figures
I’ve heard plenty of people convey that if you love what you do, money shouldn’t matter. They are partially correct. But when your bills are due, and the food in your fridge is scarce – having money will be handy. So, make sure you do your homework. Find what income appeases YOU and meets YOUR needs. However, don’t let the pay structure be your only criteria.
Is your expertise in high demand? Can you expect long-term employability in this field? Do you see the need for your expertise 25 years from now? These are all important questions to ask yourself. A specialization that is transferable to many professions and sectors is beneficial. You’ll always be needed!
The Right Specialization For You – Diagram is Not Attached
After you find your ideal specialization, you’re ready to take the necessary measures (e.g., graduate school, certification, online course, workshop, mentorship, etc.) to become a specialist in your desired field!
About the Author
Amanda Spencer is a Global Financial Crimes professional in New York City. She has firsthand understandings of global affairs, international business, and communications. Amanda is also a published researcher. Her studies specialize in emerging global threats. Amanda is the founder of Her Global Insights, a blogging platform striving to prepare and encourage young women to take on leadership roles.