4 Steps to Go from Grad to Great Employee

Handshake to seal a deal after a job recruitment meeting
Handshake to seal a deal after a job recruitment meeting

Graduation--the ultimate limbo phase. The first moment where you're no longer a student but you're not yet a professional. It's easy to be a little freaked out, especially with friends and family asking "What are you doing next?"

The thing is, a lot of graduates feel that way... a little scared and confused. They're not sure how to narrow their interests and strengths into the right career path or how to make a plan of action to get there. If this sounds like you, don't worry. Just follow these 4 steps to find out what you want out of life, and make the leap from graduate to professional.

1. Figure out your strengths
Finding the right career path starts with finding what you're good at. Sounds simple enough, right? But it can be difficult to get a good picture of ourselves from the outside, away from the friends, family, and college life that we've been surrounded by. It's time to step back for a minute and see ourselves through a different, more objective lens.

Ask yourself:

• What skills do I have?
• What are my natural talents?
• Do certain things come easily to me?
• Are there things that are really hard for me?

If you're stumped, personality tests can be awesome indicators of where your strengths lie. Try the 16 Personalities test or the Open Four Temperaments Scales assessment. These types of tests can show you how you like to solve problems and get you thinking about the types of careers that align with your strengths.

For instance, one of my friends is a great problem-solver. He can look at a structure or system and instantly see how it can be remade for efficiency. Every job he took after graduation helped him realize just how much engineering talent he really had. Now, he's an engineer with a great company, doing something that he's good at, and he couldn't be happier.

2. Dream on
Finding the perfect career is about aligning your work to your strengths, but it's also about doing something that you enjoy. That's the first 10% part of my 10-80-10 system (10% dream, 80% action, 10% reality): your dream job.

What do you love to do?

There's a difference between kind of liking something and loving it enough to look forward to spending 8 hours a day, 5 days a week on it. What really lights you up and genuinely excites you?

• Working with people
• Saving the environment
• Using computers or other technology
• Crunching numbers

When you know, you know. A friend of mine always wanted to help others and loved medicine from a young age. She decided early on that pursuing a career as a surgeon would make her happy. What are you that passionate about?

3. Imagine your future reality
Let's hop to the other end of the 10-80-10 system. The final 10% is what you'd like your reality to be. Basically, what kind of life do you imagine for yourself?

Here are just a few examples:

• Having kids or a family
• Being an executive or CEO of a company
• Setting down deep roots in a community, maybe as an integral figure in a small company
• Living by the beach
• Helping impoverished children

Paint the picture of how your life will eventually look like (don't worry about how long it will take you to get there). Make it as detailed as possible, both professionally and personally, and remember--there are no limits!

4. Brainstorm a plan
Now here's the fun part: the 80% portion of the 10-80-10 system, or the action. You've determined your strengths and dreams and imagined your future reality. All you have to do is fill in the middle part aligning these two using a plan of action.

• Go through job postings and determine the skills you need to work on
• Look up entry-level positions where you'll be able to develop the necessary skills for your dream job
• Research the years of experience required for each position
• Determine which companies have a great reputation in the field, and which you would like to possibly work for
• Note what you want from the jobs or careers available and jot down your expectations--these will come in handy when you start interviewing, as you'll know which questions to ask to ensure that you're a good fit for the company and vice versa

You may not find the perfect first position...that's okay! The most important thing to keep in mind is that your first jobs prepare you for your dream job, so be open to various opportunities for learning and growth and accept your wins along the way.

Also, one last word of advice: This 80% action portion takes time. Be patient! It's the best way to go from dreaming to living your dream life.

Now go get 'em, grads!

And if you need a little extra help...
I'd love to chat! After just one hour of coaching, you'll have a plan of action tailored to your goals. Check out my coaching sessions!