Finding the Right Job Starts With Having an Open Mind

keep an open mind in your job searchIt’s hard not to feel desperate in a tight job market. Many people take the first opportunity that comes their way, or they settle for a position that’s far removed from their passions or interests.

Instead of jumping at a less-than-favorable offer, consider these tips on finding and snagging the best job for you, courtesy of Dylan Schweitzer, Group Talent Acquisition Manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which was recognized as a top hirer of college graduates by and Diversity Employers Magazine.

Find an employer that’s willing to teach you. When you’re hired, you’ll of course have a specific function or role, but you can truly thrive at a company in which employees are kept in the loop. There’s nothing worse than starting a job, and being given poor or little training. Enterprise’s management training program, for instance, teaches trainees how to run a business from the ground level up, says Schweitzer. “You start in one of the branches and learn everything from customer service and sales to inventory management to operations and human resources,” he says. It takes about 8-12 months to acclimate to the position, and to be promoted to an assistant manager.

Don’t be married to your major. Although you’ll want to seek a position in the field you studied (especially for more specialized areas like science, technology, or medicine), don’t overlook opportunities for which your skill set would be perfect, even if your degree points toward something else. At Enterprise, Schweitzer says he sees a mix of educational backgrounds in the application pile. “A lot of business majors apply, but we also see successful candidates from communications, liberal arts, science majors you name it. It’s less about the major and more about overall fit,” he says. That’s because it’s the soft skills like leadership, customer service and communications, a willingness to learn, and a strong work ethic that matter most.

Stand out from your peers at job fairs. You’d be surprised at how many people blow their chances of getting hired within the first few minutes of meeting a potential employer, says Schweitzer, by showing up disheveled or unprepared. “Make sure your appearance is clean and professional, and wear a suit. You’ll be way more comfortable overdressing than arriving too casual.” Beyond looks, be prepared to give a quick 30-second bio on yourself, and have a folder of crisp resumes ready to hand out.  And afterward? Take an active approach if you snag an interview. “I love when I meet a person who tells me they met me at a fair, called a branch and spoke to employees, and researched the company on LinkedIn,” he says.

Learn to impress, even with a limited job history. “It’s impressive when a person had a job while they went to school, and was able to maintain good grades,” says Schweitzer. In addition, he says, companies prefer when people are committed to one organization and have accomplished things, as opposed to being involved in several clubs and not making notable contributions. “If they really made an impact, being able to talk about that is going to go a long way,” he says.

Think long-term. Everyone has to start as an entry-level employee when first entering a new field, but it’s a smart career move to find a job that has a clear path toward advancement, says Schweitzer. All positions at Enterprise are filled internally, so there’s room for growth for those willing to learn and work hard. When meeting with recruiters, ask if it’s typical for people to earn promotions and move across departments if desired positions open up. You can even ask your interviewer or other employees you meet about their career path with the company to gauge if there’s really room to grow.

Finding the right job really is about honing in on what a company has to offer, and seeing if it’s a match what you value in a position. When you do find a potential match, it’s up to you to make sure the feeling is mutual by letting the employer know why you’re the best person for the job.

About Dawn Papandrea

Dawn Papandrea is a Staten Island, NY-based freelance writer specializing in careers, higher education, personal finance, and lifestyle topics. Follow her on twitter: @DawnPapandrea.