Finding Your First Job After Graduation | No BS Job Search Advice Radio

EP 2221 Knowledge only takes you so far. It’s going to take a lot more than the one or two people at the career center that will help you find a job.

SUPPORTERS: Skillshare Sign up for a free trial, take my course (and/or anyone else’s). Like Netflix, one price per month for unlimited access to everything

Read Full Transcript

My guest today is Sam Thiara. Sam, introduce yourself, tell everyone about yourself.

Sure. Hey, Jeff. There are five things that are guiding and directing me in life that has actually helped me tremendously in life and career search. The five things are servant leadership, story sharing, activator, igniter, champion, enabler, and community do gooder. As a result, that's made me a speaker and a storyteller, educator, author, writer, mentor, and coach to many, but also a problem solver. These aspects have really helped me so that I can help individuals in their search for the true path that they would like to go on.

And folks, we're going to spend some time talking to those of you who are not our age. They'll be younger, shall we say, about landing a job, what it's like to look for a job and Sam, there's a lot that school teaches and there's a lot that school doesn't teach. So we talk about some of the things that school isn't teaching that's helpful for students in landing that new role.

Totally. I mean, whether it's high school or post-secondary, I think people go into a runway and a pathway. Universities and colleges or even high schools provide some tools with regards to knowledge. But where knowledge will only take you so far. It's the application of the knowledge that becomes wisdom and that's where career centers or different programs try to provide students the capacities and capabilities, but sometimes in some institutions, it's a numbers piece, you could have 17,000 students, and only two career advisors. How much can you really support that journey of the individual who's looking for career advice or support? It's really difficult. Many of the times as we go through the university piece, it's almost like you're preparing to take off. Then all of a sudden, that runway, when you graduate, you're like, okay, see you later, but where am I going or where do I start? What's the opportunities that are there? There's a need for us to start building more of the practical experiences and getting more of the insights from professionals who have actually blazed the trail in the past and being able to share their journey. We're capturing the essence of these.

I'm going to speak to the parents who may be watching this or want to work over their son or daughter. Most of your students are waiting too late to engage. They're waiting until senior year, and maybe the upper senior year and say, hey, I got to find a job after graduation. With there's so much that can be done before that, they will help you help them land. So, if you're watching this as the parent of a freshman, sophomore, junior, fabulous. This is really the time to start working them over and saying to them, I know what your friends are telling you, but they know as little as you do.

I hate to say it, but also its friends and family that also sometimes maybe miss guiding individuals, because they want the students to go down their pathway that they think is a safe or that this is a viable option. You're almost spoon feeding them something they're not going to enjoy at a certain point later in life. They were like, now I have to switch careers because this really doesn't make sense.

Yeah. I never want to encourage people to force a career on their kid. But once the student is thinking about a career, what can they do? Should they wait till senior year? I don't think so.

In fact, it's almost like what I would say is step outside of the classroom and you'll find that it doesn't matter what campus you're on. There are clubs that are in place on so many different fronts. For example, if you're interested in accounting, there's an accounting club in your school where you can actually join people and they'll do industry tours, they'll bring guest speakers in. This allows you the opportunity to say this really resonates or this doesn't resonate. Club activities are really important and the importance of joining a club twofold. Number one, you get to learn about the jobs or the careers that are available. But the second most important thing is you start building those integral networks or relationships with people who are in industry. You're doing a dual purpose and build in your own confidence with regards to interacting and engaging with people as well.

Are you saying that they should network while they're in school?

Relationship building networking. I find this no bad word. I find its relationship building networking and we use it in our daily language. I would say build the relationships. It's so funny because I've spent so many years in this industry and you get to an event, and you see these young people running around collecting business cards and its like, okay, but did you really meet that person? And they're walking around going look at the stack of cards I have. Well, yeah, but at the end of the evening, is it better to have one meaningful conversation with an individual for 15-20 minutes, or 25 business cards. Go with that individual who's going to try to remember you, or you have to come reconnect with them, and start building those foundational relationships at that event. But a lot of these clubs put on such events, so that you can actually go and meet people. I get people coming to my office at the university. I have to go to this event. Sam, how do I engage in a conversation? I was like, I don't know, I just talked to people. But there's a lot of anxiety on what do I say? They think that you have to go to this event and if I meet , I have to have this killer question prepared that 's going to be like give me a resume. I've got a job for you right here. That doesn't happen.

I always tell my students, when you get to an event, ask a simple question and listen and observe. I always say if I came to your house, and I knocked on the door, and I'm coming for dinner with a bottle of wine, is the first question when you open the door. Sam, I just wanted to know, what is the trends of youth markets and jobs that are aggressive or assertive that, you know I have my students can actually get into? Or are you going to say, Sam, come on in? How was your flight from Vancouver? The funny part is the students are trying to find this singular question that's going to wild people. I said, ask a simple question. , what school did you go to? And then I teach at Simon Fraser University. Simple question. If shows up at a sfcu event, it'd be like, , are you an alum of Simon Fraser University? Then you'd be like, no, actually, I went to school over here. It's like great. What was that experience? Now is going to talk to them about his experience at post-secondary. Then when 's talking about his experience, in post-secondary, I would be able to say I can so relate to that link. Here's how things haven't changed, or here's how things have changed. Make it into a conversation.

This is something I've said to people for years, the more they talk the more they like you. No domestic being giving the appearance of being an acute listener is one of the great skills to develop. Number one is you don't reveal your ignorance yet. Number two is you might actually learn something and number three is you're going to actually connect because they transfer those warm feelings that they start to have as they talk about themselves and associate them with you.

Totally. Once you build this strong foundational relationship. What happens though, is I get people again, coming up later, four months later, awesome. I was at this networking event, I said which event and I mean, relationship building event and they said, I never followed up with that person. It's been four months. I was like, drop them a note and they're like, but it's awkward. I said, No. Just say I was just going through and I really enjoyed my conversation with you. What's the worst that's going to happen? Is going to come and kill? may respond back and say, it's great to hear from you and if he just ignores it, chalk it up to an experience, and then don't do that next time. I've got people I haven't talked to in 10 years, but because we built a foundational relationship. All of a sudden, we're picking up where we left off. In fact, after this call, I'm having a conversation with this friend of mine. We haven't talked in about maybe 20 years.

And notice, by the way, he referred this person is a friend, despite not having spoken with him for 20 years.

Here's the thing. I spoke on a podcast. All of a sudden, she was connected to somebody who does this podcast and she was like, the two people that I know and I hadn't talked to her in 20 years, and all of a sudden, now I'm meeting her for coffee, just after this call to just catch up and I was like, you were the mayor's executive assistant and she was like, you remember? And I said no, I still remember you. She was just so pleased, but 20 years has gone by, is it awkward? Of course not. In fact, it's just an opportunity to reignite and reconnect. Don't be afraid to do that.

And folks, if you're a student, and you're watching this to listening to remember, there are students that you went to school, who've already graduated and you can always drop them a note that says something to the effect, that it feels like it's been 100 years since we spoke, we sat in that class together. Then you can make a joke about something that happened there and your name just came into my mind. I thought I would try reaching out.

The way you just said that your name came into my mind. All of a sudden, it just sparks that reconnection because it's like, wow, they were thinking of me and the longer the time is gone and all of a sudden somebody says I was thinking of you today. It's been too long since we connected or that we've had a conversation, and all of a sudden, they feel really great that you've remembered them.

One of the fun times of year was Christmas. Everyone's in a good mood, they're starting to wind down emotionally, the year has come to an end and that same time of year is so well received, or just after the first of the year. You haven't told from the US Thanksgiving, until, let's say, the 10th of January, where you can send that note. Obviously, you can do it in any time of the year. Of course, those are particularly wonderfully charged times of year where people's guard is down a little bit. They're more receptive to those kinds of reconnections.

Apart from the clubs as we've gone in that pathway. Another thing I highly recommend students to do is what we call Co Op. I'm not sure if you have that in the States, co-op. Our universities here, they have preassigned work terms. There's a huge slew of them from all faculties, and the students apply for it. Rather than the individual student going out to seek work while they're a student, and you're one of 1000 resumes, you might be one of 15 resumes, because these are preassigned work terms. They could be with accounting firms, it could be a lab assistant, it could be a marketing intern, but these are all paid. But here's the thing, you wind up getting four months to eight months of work experience in a company. But you get to test drive the career, and you get to see is this what I like or don't like and here's the kicker in this 80% of the co op employers wind up hiring the students because they've seen your work.

What reference check do I need when I've seen you right there in the office doing this. If your university or college has what we call co-op, or internals in the United States, perfect. These are preassigned job terms that we call a co-op, but your co-op office has, and you go into their database, and there's literally hundreds jobs that are available to our students in co-op. Employers that the benefit of this is oftentimes they're alumni of the institution. Now they've gone into industry. SAP KPMG, any number of these organizations will source out people in universities and colleges to these work terms and they understand that they're doing a service to the community because a couple of benefits here is you're getting someone who can do a certain amount of tasks that you need done, and you're paying them wages, but they're going towards their education and that you're doing a positive thing, but you're also getting to know these people, and now you're able to bring them into your organization at a later date of time if you choose to. It's a really great opportunity to do these co-op opportunities or these internships, because you get to test drive your career, if you like it or don't like it.

I did my master�s in social work. It's two years of such programs. The first year I worked in one type of agency, and the second year, I've worked in another type. He gave me a sense of what the field was like. He was very useful to me. Because I got a practical application of what was covered in the classroom.

Another area that I've spent a lot of time in is mentorship. It's been about 5000 conversations to date, with these young people, either building out a mentorship program, or just being a mentor to these individuals. It's interesting, because I always see mentorship programs, to some extent as awkward dating. Because what you're doing is you're pulling an employer and a person and you're matching them up and saying, there you go, and it almost looks like square dance in primary school. I work with mentorship programs to try to build, how do you make it a successful mentorship program so that both parties walk away with benefits with regards to something that both have gained. Having mentored so many people, I've gained so much experience and exposure. I've built tremendous relationships over the years. The mentorship piece is also valuable, because now you're sharing with them insights on the types of careers that are out there and connecting them to people that you've already built relationships with. But I also find what's interesting is mentorship programs. I've been mentoring in one program for about 21-years now. They don't even ask me if I want to mentor this year, they just give me somebody. That's how it's become. But it's interesting, because my background is education, coaching, writing, sort of the social side and the soft skill side.

They've given me finance students who are very focused and direct and numbers, and the finance person actually has gone back to the organizers. I think there's a mistake here. I was looking for somebody in finance and you gave me somebody who's like, touchy feely guy, he's a yoga guy. They're like trust me on this. The one key thing I will tell people about mentorship is if you're given somebody and assigned somebody who has nothing to do with your industry, or the area you think you want to go embrace it, because you are going to learn a part of your life they're going to expose, that you may not even know exists. It doesn't mean they're going to. I'm not out there to shift them from finance into coaching. But what I'm going to do is give them a different perspective. It's also funny because they think that mentorship is like you're dating, and all of a sudden if you were to go find another mentor, what's that first mentor going to say? And I'm like, we don't care. If you want to finance, I'll put you in touch with a banker or somebody in the finance industry. I'll guide you in this area. We talked about co-op, we talked about club or co-op, and internships and club activities, and universities, colleges, and outside of it have these mentorship programs that I highly recommend people get into.

There are organizations that assignment or some, the classic example is you go to work from organization, you're the junior person or the intern, and they assigned a mentor to you, who's 37 levels up from wherever you are, and they're supposed to bask in their magnificence and their thing is I got to do this. The way I get ahead is by mentoring a kid somewhere along the line to show up got emotional intelligence and soften meal. We got that kind of approach. There's a way to make that program work if you're the student than the equation. I'm wondering if you can suggest to students in that situation how they wind up profiting benefited from that kind of a setup and then I've got a few more scenarios.

It's true. Having been in industry for so long, I've got this white robe that I wear when I go into the mentorship program. Of course, you have to use the dry-cleaning bill. Because you really want that effect. The benefit with regards to the university mentorship programs, is oftentimes they reach out to alumni. I think the people who come into those programs at the university level really want to be there. But there's a problem with that as well because if they've been in industry five years, 10 years, they're like, yes. Now, instead of the white rope, we're going to put on the Indiana Jones hat. I am going to maneuver you and show you the ropes. I'm going to get you through this and with flames going here and rocks that are falling when you step on the wrong one and stuff. I've had situations where mentors, not mentees have come up to me going like, this was a mentor fail. I said, what happened? They said, I've been in the finance industry for eight years and have progressed along. I was going to take my mentee and introduce them to some of these partners and get them a job. But the guy that gave me had very basic knowledge of finance, and it was just literally, we had a few conversations, but it was a mentorship fail. I said, okay, did you go into this relationship to save a soul? Or did you go in there to listen to what this person's needs were? And he was like, we know what it was. It was the first of course, of course. I said did you actually listen to what the mentee was sort of saying that they needed? Or is the support or learning, what was important to them? He was like I was imposing when I should have been maybe listening.

It's two ways, but to the part that you were also saying about you've got somebody up here, and you're down here. Number one is, what's the interest level of this person to be in this relationship? I've got CEOs that are just like this is the part of my job I really love where I can bring people in, and I can engage them. But I also learned from them. But the person who's coming in at this level, I would say come in with interest, come in curious and come in, wanting to learn. Next thing your mentor is impressed by you. Because now they're seeing this initiative that you have, and I always say learn about your mentor. Don't stop them, but learn about your mentor. Because if you can learn about them, and the more that you learn about your mentor, the more you're going to have that relationship established, and they're going to be very happy to have you in their presence. They may even take it to these business lunches and places to say we're having a board meeting, why don't you grab a chair and just have a look and see how we can we talk about these aspects and things like that. But for the student, go in with this curiosity, go in looking for an opportunity to learn from this person. I always say at the same time, once that mentorship relationship, let's say in a program is over, you have a choice. Both parties can say it's been great, thank you so much and good luck in your job search or good luck in your career. Or you carry on the relationship. That's what I've done over the last 25-years. You carry on these relationships and see where they go in life. These are some things that we can say.

For you as a student. I know you don't want to look stupid. Just it's a natural thing. I think back to when I was a student back in the stone age's when dinosaurs roamed the earth. When we used the tablets with the chisels, I think, was that kind of a tablet, it wasn't digital. You don't want to look dumb, but her job is to learn and if they don't know what it is, they're supposed to communicate with you, that's going to help you. If you want generic, keep your mouth shut. It's not going to be as useful to his if he asked questions of curiosity, even if you practice it by saying, I know this may be baby stuff to you and then go ask your question. Because the more you do that, the more you're going to get from the relationship that's going to solve your questions, concerns, and foster trust from the mentor. They're more willing to do stuff to help you because they know that you can't.

The other part is there's not like a mentorship store where you could walk in and say I'll take that one, or I'll take this one. How do you build these relationships or find these mentors, and part of it is through these mentorship programs that are available? But the other part is the lumps that are in from your university or college. Reach out to them on LinkedIn. I get anywhere from one to five LinkedIn requests per day, and majority of them are the generic. Hi, Sam, can we connect. The generic message that LinkedIn sends. I'm always impressed by that one person who sends a note to say I really appreciate the space you've created, or the work that you're doing. As a university student, I think I could really learn a lot from you about this area of whatever. I hope that we can connect. Automatically that note appears, I will go in and I will reply with a message and I will connect with them. I always tell people to use LinkedIn as a tool. Because, again, there's things that are beneficial here, because if you're not sure about a career, I get people saying after they finished my class, because I teach organizational behavior, it's like an entry level Human Resources course.

I do get students coming up afterwards going I want to get into human resources because I love people and I'm like if you love people don't do HR, that's not what it is. Then my accountants will be like, you love people, you got to get into accounting? And they're like, I'm confused. Isn't that numbers, that people are sitting in the backroom? They're like, No, we build client relationships, we deal with people, the numbers is just the hard fact. But by going into LinkedIn, you actually learn about people's jobs. I've had people reach out from globally. But give it one quick story about this one individual, and how this is a relationship that emerged because, again, a note popped into my feed on LinkedIn and it was a thoughtful adult that just said, I moved here. I don't know a lot of people, but I saw your profile, I'm trying to find people in Vancouver that would be interesting to have a conversation with or build a connection with, and I hope we can connect. I checked his profile, he wasn't an axe murderer looked, like a really nice person. I thought, perfect, connected, within 30 minutes of note popped in again, saying, I really appreciate you accepting my connection request and I know you're really busy, if you ever happened to be downtown at your convenience.

Let me know if you have 30 minutes available and I'll meet you downtown. If you're open for a cup of coffee, and I checked my calendar, and I said I happened to be downtown on this particular date. Would 11 o'clock work? Yes, that's perfect. I met this fellow and in that conversation, he just was like I'm so thankful that you took the time and then he described to me who I was, and we basically carried this relationship forward. Do you know what he wound up becoming the general manager of an incubator, he got to know so many people in Vancouver. But here's the thing, anytime I've asked him, I'm looking for speakers. He's like, Sam, I will, as long as my calendar is not full. He says, I will come and speak. He introduces me to people. He says, I should connect you to this person and all of this emerged just because he sent a thoughtful note on LinkedIn and we all have that capacity. It goes a long way to build those foundational relationships. I tell my students if you do send a note out, and somebody responds back, now the ball is in your court, and make sure you respond back again, and thank them for connecting and now see where this conversation can go.

People forget that every interaction has a meeting. Many people conduct themselves as other transactions. It's a wonderful story I've read earlier in the day, is that good for different stories to inspire myself and others, is a classic story of a carpenter who decided to retire tells his boss I'm toast. I've had enough. I've done this for a long time. It's time for me to step away. As Wayne and his bosses could do one more house. He starts working on the house and doesn't do his best buys inferior materials, cuts corners. It's not perfect as most of his other work. Then he tells us policies time, and boss comes to him with the hands on the set of keys. This one's for you and he suddenly goes, I wish I knew this before, and never had a chance to do it over again.

No, you don't and that's a beautiful story. But there's so much purpose and meaning in it and that I'm speaking at a workshop on Thursday on relationship building and personal branding. One of the things I say is, is this your 1,000th customer, or your first you've got to treat everybody like this as your first customer. Because 1000, just as you said, it's transactional and being transformational. doesn't have to be epic. I'll just relay a quick story about transformation. I had about 20 of my students in Toronto. We were at an event, its 10 o'clock at night, it's late and we're all hungry. There happened to be a triple lace and all 21 of us walked in and the lady behind the counter did the typical thing. What would you like, and she pointed to the menu and in front of her and I looked at her and I said her name texted Mary? I said Mary. She goes, yes. I said, how long have you worked here? She goes three years. I said, Mary, why don't you make me what Mary's favorite is? And she smiled. She said, are you kidding? And I said no. Make me what you like and all of a sudden she bought poses tortilla shells. She's got a smile on her face and she turns to me, she says, but would you like black beans or brown beans and I said what does Mary use?

She said, I'd like black beans. I said, Mary give me black beans and don't ask me again, or I'm coming around the counter and making my own and she started smiling. Now it became a laugh. Anyways, she's now going along. My students are smiling and laughing. Mary's smiling and laughing and she yells to the cashier. I'm copying this guy's guacamole. Because I would have put that in mind. But I'm not charging him because this is like he's saying this is what I'm having and next thing you know, the cashier starts smiling and Mary is stuffing this burrito? Like no end. At the end of it, she can't close the burrito. There's so much stuff in it and now the cashier says, let me try and the cashier comes to start trying to close this burrito, and the managers in the back and he's smiling like a hammer and nail. Now the manager comes in, he says here, step aside, let me try. The best part is my students are laughing. The staff are laughing. I just said, Mary, give me a fork and give me this in an open face and I'm just going to attack it this way. But it's what she said at the end. She said thanks so much. That was so much fun. So, transformation. I mean, am I now Mary's best friend? Of course not. But we had fun in that little instance and we remember this and my students still remember it even though they've graduated. But the idea is we have these opportunities to have what we call these transformational micro experiences. Even as a student have these micro experiences and it's also interesting because I use this as a story in my class to remind people don't they think that you have to go for epic? No, it's those little things people are noticing and I had a group of students that went down to Washington State for an academic competition, and there was about 100 people there.

They got invited to the offices of JP Morgan. Here you got senior executives of JP Morgan and 100 students and coaches and volunteers. At the end of it all, everyone said their thank you and left. My coach came back, and he basically found the senior most people in the room and they start talking but what he noticed is the senior most people is picking up the tea cups and saucers and putting it on the sideboard while they're talking. My coach said, they've got people to clean up here and he said they do. But he said I would never leave these on the table at home. Why would I leave someone else to clean up after me? But he said more importantly, I had a room of bright, intelligent, articulate people. If one of them would have picked up their cup and saucer and moved it to the sideboard I'm watching that's the student I want to talk to. I always told my students that means what you don't do. After I tell you the story is get to an event, pick up your cup and saucer, walk it to the sideboard and said, I'm looking for a job. I'm moving my son, my cup and saucer. I hope people are watching my resume just dropped on the floor. I can't pick it up because I'm holding the cup and saucer. , it just goes back to this piece of be genuine, be authentic. Don't go in with this expectation of what am I going to get out of this person or get out of this situation? People are watching what you're doing and you would be amazed at what they're picking up about you.

This is wonderful. I know we could go on for another hour. But you've got to meet someone. How can people find out more about you and the work that you do?

LinkedIn obviously. All you have to do is type in my name, but there's two Cynthia's fine. Find the one in Vancouver not the one in England, although I'm connected to him now. That's one way and my website. If you just see my name, it's just put a dash between my name Sam dash and people can find me there. LinkedIn or my website or two places where I spent a lot of times speaking at colleges and universities or building out this nonprofit, anything and everything it's about to help that audience maneuver, move forward with more confidence and be more successful.

Thank you and folks, we'll be back soon. I'm Jeff Altman. Visit my website, TheBigGameHunter.US. There's a lot there to help you in the blog, courses I have available as well. You can schedule time for a free discovery call or schedule time for coaching. I'd love to help also connect with me on LinkedIn. I just love knowing that it's been helpful to you. You can also watch more of my content on YouTube with, or subscribe to the podcast, No BS Job Search Advice Radio, which is number one in Apple podcasts for job search. As of this recording, more than it's hard to say this 2100 episodes of the show so far. Hope you have a terrific day and most importantly, be great. Take care.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1400 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a free Discovery call.

If you have questions for me, call me through the Magnifi app for iOS (video) or (phone) offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.  

Connect with me on LinkedInLike me on Facebook.

Join and attend my classes on Skillshare. Become a premium member and get 2 months free.

Join Career Angles on Facebook and receive support, ideas and advice in your current career and job.No BS Job Search Advice Radio

You can order a copy of “Diagnosing Your Job Search Problems” for Kindle on Amazon and receive free Kindle versions of “No BS Resume Advice” and “Interview Preparation.” If you are starting your search, order, “Get Ready for the Job Jungle.” 

Don’t forget to give the show 5 stars and a good review in iTunes

If you want to know how to win more interviews, order “Winning Interviews.” You’ll learn how to win phone interviews, in-person interviews, the best question to ask on any interview and more.

Would you like to talk through a salary negotiation or potential negotiation you’re involved with? Order and schedule time with me.

Do you have questions or would like advice about networking or any aspect of your search. Order and schedule time with me.

Would you like me to critique your resume? Order a critique from me

Jeff’s Kindle book, “You Can Fix Stupid: No BS Hiring Advice,” is available on Amazon.


Support this podcast:


About the author

Leave a Comment, Thought, Opinion. Speak like you're speaking with someone you love.

%d bloggers like this: