How to Get a Job in Today’s Market – Part 1: Your Résumé


BWF PicToday’s college graduates face increasing competition for the fewer jobs that are out there. We often are asked by college students, “What do I have to do to get hired?”

Many students chase the courses that seem to align with a particular profession hoping that their formal education in a specific area will attract an employer all by itself. It won’t!

Many students who put themselves through school with borrowed money face double jeopardy. First, the payback on the loan they’ve taken out is sometimes 3 and 4 times the amount borrowed, and because they had funds from the loans, they didn’t feel pressured to get a job while in college. So they pass up the opportunity to get real-world experience. Yet that experience is one of the qualifications an employer is seeking.

Here’s our short list of what employers are looking for today:

1. Experience. It is better if it’s in your chosen profession, but even if your experience is not, it demonstrates that you can and have held down a job. Hopefully, your boss provided you with a great recommendation you can put on your résumé. So, while you are going to college, consider working your way through, even if it makes your curriculum extend beyond the typical four-year standard.  That job gives you a big edge over the students who just borrowed their way through school. And if you do borrow, you’ll be in a much better position to pay it off.

2. Entrepreneurship. Yes, employers are now starting to hire grads with entrepreneurship education and experience over those who don’t have it. Why? Because they want to hire folks that understand that all the money- including their salary, benefits and bonuses- originates from the sales of the company’s products or services. They want folks who understand that sales and customer service is the key to maintaining and growing cash flow. They basically want to hire people who really understand how their position fits into the big picture of the company.

3. Stability. Probably the first thing employers do when confronted with a ton of résumés is to eliminate the ones that look “unstable.”  Instability is easy to spot because it’s measured by how long you have held onto each job. If, for instance, you have been jumping around from job to job with less than one-year tenure at each, it makes them question, “Why should I hire this person? The training alone will take 3 to 6 months.” It’s difficult for a college student to demonstrate long-term tenure with an employer, but holding on to a part-time job for two years or more speaks volumes.

4. Ethics. What was the biggest mistake you made working for an employer and how did you handle it? No, it’s not a trick question. It’s all about whether you cover up and blame others, or whether you take responsibility for your own behavior – and sometimes, for the behavior of others. Employers want to hear that you are honest and can take responsibility. So, if you can, demonstrate what you did to make sure you, or anyone, wouldn’t make that mistake again. It may be that you rewrote the policies and procedures; checklists and signoff sheets; or even put a new clause in a contract or a sign on the door! Employers want to hear how you added permanent value to your last employer’s company.

Remember, when all the résumés are lined up, you want yours to stand out. Employers are looking for employees that will justify their investment in time, money, and training. Your resume has to say, “I’m worth the risk!” So make sure your resume distinguishes you from the rest. We wish all the grads good luck landing that all-important job after graduation!

Who Are We.

Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.

Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.

We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders


  1. Michael Sweigart says

    Just wanted to say thank you for the opportunity to meet with you when you visited Washburn University and spoke with our entrepreneurship class.
    Your insights and advice were incredible. I’m looking forward to reading your future posts on jobs.

    Michael Sweigart

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