Where’s the ROI on My College Education?

February 9, 2010

News alert. A senior who’s graduating from an Ivy League undergraduate business school just reported to me that unless you’re in the top 10% of the class (as measured by GPA), the pedigree finance firms will not grant you an interview.

So after spending well over $150,000 on her education, and even earning very respectable grades, she’s left to her own devices to find a meaningful job.  What about the school’s Career Services office?  In her words: “Frustrating. I hardly got any personal attention, and was given boilerplate information.  So now I’ll sound just like everyone else out there.”

When I asked her where she wanted to work, she mentioned the top finance firms.  However, she wasn’t granted an interview with any of them through Career Services. I saw on her resume that she didn’t have an objective, as she was instructed not to write one because it was assumed that she was seeking a first year analyst position (ugh, another story).

As I read further, I saw that she was bi-lingual and lived in South America. When asked if she would, by chance, have an interest in Latin American finance, she piped up and exclaimed, “that’s exactly what I want”. Then I asked her why she didn’t express this aspiration on her resume, as it was clear that she had passion for the subject, an on-the-ground understanding of the culture and language, and, duh, a pedigree education. She looked at me and said, “how would I say it?” On one foot, I asked her if this sounded ok:

Seeking an analyst role in Latin American finance to leverage a bi-cultural point of view along with a pedigree finance education. Aspire to provide the analytical scaffolding to actualize opportunities in emerging markets in South America, especially at the intersection where cross border deals meets wise investment decisions.

Her eyes nearly popped out of her head and I sensed a huge weight lifted from her shoulders. “That’s it”, she said, “maybe I should use an objective statement after all, but how do I find such an opportunity?”

That’s the beauty of having clarity.  Once you identify your gifts and you can see how to apply them, the rest is tactical. If she breaks down the financial universe and pinpoints the firms and the executives that concentrate on the specific investments that interest her, then the world starts to shrink. With much less work than it would take to chase opportunities that aren’t ideal for her, she can assemble a customized list of the players in this sector. Then, her go-to-market plan is to sell her passion, education and skills that will surely exceed expectations.

With the right message targeted at the right decision makers, success can be closer than you think. Thus, clarity on your value offering, along with a dose of confidence and tactics, will yield a return on investment that will pay long term dividends.

Read more tips & strategies on this and other topics  from the Get What You Set web site.

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College Student Resume Devaluation

September 29, 2009

The dollar isn’t the only thing that’s devalued. So too is our professional self image. How so?Resume 101

Let’s look at the following objective statement we received from a college student:

Obtaining an internship in the marketing section of your company.

We’re not kidding. The rest of his resume was just as unimaginative.

Where in this objective do you see any reason to hire him for a job? Where’s his value? Turns out that he actually had ALOT of it. Through intensive coaching we helped this student discover and articulate his value, which enabled him to find a meaningful position with a multi-national company. This is how he positioned himself for success:

Seeking a direct marketing position in a multinational company to leverage a fluency in 3 languages and 2 African dialects along with the ability to blend into various cultures in 3 continents. Recognized for flexibility in assuming challenging assignments in an internship with Unilever. Capable of enhancing a corporation’s marketing initiatives by applying a cultural sensitivity along with a fundamental understanding of international marketing business principles.

Then he went on to prove it in his resume.

Bottom line: It’s easier to inadvertently diminish yourself than to appropriately promote your abilities and credentials. Here’s a suggestion. Make a list of what you have to offer and imagine how it can enrich an enterprise. When done right, your message will reverberate off the page.