A couple weeks ago I was sitting on the patio enjoying an adult beverage and thinking, “I love living in Florida.” Seriously, that was it….but I’m a guy so it’s not odd that my brain was devoid of thought. We’re not unlike dogs in that regard. We can shut it down. Anyway, the blissful silence was broken by my patio-mate, “I wonder when my plumeria will bloom?” Sighhhhh……. I took a sip of my beverage, pulled out my phone, Googled “when do plumeria bloom in Florida”. Fourth link in the list states, “Summer is the time for maximum plumeria flowering in the northern hemisphere.” Done. Back to my cocktail.
Ok, bear with me while I sound like a crotchety old fart, but when did Google replace retaining facts in your head??? Back in the day you had to retain critical information like facts and figures, unit prices, the formula for calculating defined benefits, batting averages, song lyrics, and movie lines. You held this information dear, coveting it, until the opportunity to show off your proprietary knowledge arose. It meant something to be able to recite the entire script of “Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail.” Now anyone can Google the movie name and next thing you know they’re spouting off lines like any proud member of the Chess Club.
So what does this rant have to do with your job search? Dude, just because you know something doesn’t make you special. Spreadsheet formulas will calculate the future value of money. Easily searchable web sites will list all the EEO laws and policies your employer has to follow. Software will put debits and credits where they need to be…and tell you how to decrease your tax liability! These days, it’s more important to know how to APPLY the four P’s rather than just spout them off.
Employers tell us that the biggest issue with today’s college graduate job seekers is that they don’t know how to relate information learned in past experiences to the job they are trying to fill. In other words, you can’t answer essay questions! At graduation last week Congressman John Mica asked the graduates to raise their hand if they’d worked while in school. Nearly everyone who was there to get a diploma raised their hand. Students also perform different class projects in teams (we love our teams in the CBA!) Additionally, every student getting their Bachelor’s degree had done a service project for Cornerstone…well, they were assigned one anyway. Writing an email to your friends/family asking for money doesn’t actually count as work. You don’t give that consideration to the guy standing on the curb at Alafaya and University with his cardboard sign, do you?
The point is, if you graduated from UCFs College of Business, you’ve probably done something. You worked. You did an internship. You worked on a team to do a project. You did a volunteer project. You were part of a student club or organization or team. If you saw the value of the experience, you actually applied yourself and attempted to get something out of it. If you were particularly industrious you had multiple experiences such as these. If you don’t meet any of these criteria, you’re a slug and probably stopped reading this blog when I used the word “plumeria”…so I’m not really talking to you anymore.
So, can you use that experience to tell a story? For example, in Cornerstone you learned about communication and problem solving concepts. Did you just watch lecture at the last minute in order to barf up the list on a test? Or can you actually identify and relate experiences illustrating those concepts from your team experience? Did you have to negotiate? Did you have to solve a conflict? Did you see the pros and cons of different communication techniques or mechanics? Can you tell a story about these? Can you describe what you learned? How do these experiences relate to the Jr Financial Analyst job you just applied to?
Ron White complained that, “Google killed knowledge.” Actually, it just did the easy part for us, it stored it in a place anyone can go find it. The trick that makes you special is knowing something useful to do with the information!
By the way, plumeria is a plant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plumeria