Recent graduates know that finding a job after college takes a lot more than a good GPA and long list of internships. Competition is fierce for top entry-level jobs, so much so that an interview can feel less like an open dialogue with a hiring manager and more like an audition for America’s Got Talent.
Hiring managers have high expectations and when you are new to the job market, that can feel intimidating. The truth is that your success in finding a job after college includes more than what’s on your resume. At Vocate, we’ve discovered that the best companies care a lot more about the mindset you bring to the job search process.
If you’re not familiar with Carol Dweck, she’s a psychology professor at Stanford (and a huge inspiration to us here at Vocate) whose books and lectures focus specifically on shifting from a “fixed” mindset – that you can only do what you’re already doing – to a “growth” mindset, the belief that who you are today is just the starting point. People with a growth mindset believe that through hard work and continuous learning, they can (and will) continue to evolve throughout their life and career.
This post explores how you can develop a growth mindset and use it to your advantage in the process of finding a job after college. You’ll learn why top companies intentionally seek out life-long learners, along with how a growth mindset can help you stand out in the sea of recent graduates vying for entry-level jobs.
Why Companies Specifically Target Candidates with a Growth Mindset
Whether you’re applying to Fortune 500 companies or a 10-person startup in San Francisco, most companies want growth-minded candidates for their entry-level positions.
In a recent post, the question was posed, “is an entry-level job at a startup right for you?”
That’s because working for a startup is a unique beast. Not only are teams small, forcing people to often work on projects not exactly in their job description (this is particularly true of entry-level positions), but by nature, the company itself has a growth mindset. Whether the goal is to build the next big thing or get acquired, startups aspire to grow rapidly and therefore absolutely need people who have a growth mindset themselves.
Larger corporations obviously may not have those same aspirations, but that doesn’t make their focus on candidates with a growth mindset any less intense. Hiring managers at big companies want growth-minded graduates because those candidates are often the biggest producers. A desire to learn most often means big ambition, and that’s exactly what corporations want from entry-level candidates.
Why Recent Graduates Absolutely Must Adopt a Growth Mindset
You just spent the last four years of your life with your nose buried in books, cramming for exams and churning out term papers like your life depended on it. It’s understandable, therefore, that even the word “learning” might make you a bit squeamish.
But here’s the harsh truth on the matter. When you stop learning, you’re finished. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the best people never stop taking in new information. The way in which you learn will inevitably change (you won’t need a student loan to learn in the corporate environment), but the idea that after four years at a university you now know everything you need to know to be successful in your career (and life) is just plain wrong. That’s a fixed mindset at its worst.
There’s this great quote from an Indian philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, that goes like this:
“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”
Boom. Mic drop moment.
You’ll find advantages to adopting a growth mindset in every corner of your life, but for the sake of keeping things short, let’s focus specifically on why being growth-focused makes sense for you at this stage in your life as you embark on finding a job after college.
First and foremost, here’s a fact about the majority of hiring managers from top companies. They don’t expect you to know everything. They call them “entry-level” jobs for a reason. You’re new to the workforce, you’re new to working in a corporate environment; it’s unreasonable to expect you’re going to compare to someone with 10 years of experience under their belt.
Hiring managers don’t expect you to know it all. But they do expect you to have a voracious appetite for knowledge.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you just got your degree in computer science. If that’s the case, you likely just spent the last four years coding like crazy for class assignments. You worked insanely hard learning as much as possible to ensure you have diverse enough knowledge to work with almost any major tech company. That’s great and incredibly valuable!
But it’s no substitute for coding in the real world, something you likely have next to no experience doing. So, when interview time rolls around, you have two options. You can walk into Google, plop your resume down on the desk that shows you’re fluent in Python, C++ and Java, and with a straight face try to act like that somehow makes you qualified to code alongside the guy who built Gmail.
Or, in the wise words of Kendrick Lamar, you can “be humble.”
With a growth mindset, you’ll walk into that same interview and share with the hiring manager how excited you are for the potential opportunity to learn from all the great talent at Google. You’ll let them know that you’ve spent the last four years building the fundamentals, but you’ll also note that you know there’s a lot of learning left to do and you can’t imagine a better place for that to happen.
Do you see how much more the second approach makes you stand out from the pack? Plenty of recent graduates know Python, C++ and Java. Not all of them have a real hunger for learning. Be the one who does.
For more information on developing a growth mindset, you can check out Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. And for help finding the right fit for your first job out of college, give Vocate a try. Fill out one easy application and have companies interested in hiring recent graduates reach out to you directly. Sign up for Vocate today. It’s 100 percent free and more than 10,000 have been already been presented with exciting job opportunities for after graduation.