By: Brandon Sayers
Young college graduates often struggle with finding jobs after they’ve completed their studies, as a high volume of applicants have similar degrees. It’s crucial for graduates to find their own ways of differentiating themselves from others. The most important thing for applicants to remember is that they have to take it upon themselves to make opportunities. Waiting back and hoping job offers pop up (that you’ll actually be interested in) will make it extremely difficult to find enjoyable and fulfilling employment. Here are some ways to stand out with employers, so applicants can get themselves closer to that job they’ve been looking for.
Utilize Your Existing Network & Build New Ones
Whether it be family members, fellow Wittenberg students, Wittenberg professors, or any other circles you’re a part of, it’s essential to connect with and explore opportunities with people in your network. If you feel you don’t have an adequate enough network for whatever reason, you need to take it upon yourself to build new ones that get you closer to the employment you desire. Though it’s not often shown to us during our pre-high school and high school years, the importance of networking with others can’t be overstated when pursuing jobs. To put it quite simply, employers feel more comfortable hiring people they know and trust can perform the tasks at hand. Also, since those in your network know your interests and skills, they can help you find employment you’ll enjoy. Most ways applicants stand out to employers involves applicants working toward this goal of expanding their network.
Show Employers You Can Create Value For Them
College GPAs are certainly a piece of the puzzle, but relying on grades alone often isn’t enough to stand out from others. What employers want to know, is how applicants have created value in the work, projects, volunteering, or anything else they’ve done, and how they may create value in the company. Emphasize times when you were a self-starter and thought of creative solutions to issues. Show employers the times when you left a situation, job, volunteer site, project, etc. better than when you first arrived. If you can show these employers that you offer creative ideas to satisfy clients and customers and grow their business, they will certainly look at you differently than the applicant who clings to their college GPA, but not much else.
Get Your Name Out There
You can’t stand out to employers or build networks if they don’t know who you are. So, taking steps to get your name out there and build your personal brand is important. Some ways you can do this:
Make business cards. You’d be surprised at how uncommon this is, especially with college students. Just creating business cards alone allows the employer to put a face with your name, and show you have made the effort to look more professional, when others haven’t even considered business cards. Make sure your business cards market who you are.
Make A Blog. Everyone is passionate about something. (Professionally) demonstrating that passion in a blog can work wonders for getting your name out there. Firstly, you show that you take the initiative when you create a blog. Building a blog takes time and dedication, and many people simply don’t have the patience to properly build one. Secondly, people can see your passionate ideas about the subjects you’re interested in. This can go a long way in getting employers in your field of expertise to take interest in you. Thirdly, it just helps your personal brand. Far more people are able to see what interests you, and gets to know you on a somewhat personal level, even if they haven’t met you yet. This can entice people to contact you. Finally, building a blog sharpens your writing skills in a non-classroom setting, which is a crucial skill to have in most jobs, as it shows you can communicate ideas succinctly. Examples of great sites to help you build your blog are Strikingly, Weebly and WordPress.
Show Employers You’re Interested In Their Company
Though employers do like applicants that market themselves well, and demonstrating your competencies is important, you also set yourself apart just by expressing interest in the company and its employees. Do research on the company before interacting with them. What does the company do? What are their products? What’s their philosophy? These can all be found by researching their website. Additionally, personally connecting with employers on LinkedIn is a key step in developing a relationship with them. They know you care enough to connect with them when you do this, and it lays the groundwork for future communication. Compiling a list of questions and personally communicating with an employee of the company you’re interested in can really set you apart from others. An employer would certainly favor a person who took the time and had a strong enough interest to personally talk to them about their company, than someone who didn’t even consider it.
Don’t Automatically Refuse Unpaid Work, Especially If You’re Younger
People often criticize unpaid work, such as unpaid internships or apprenticeships. However, especially if you’re younger (high school or early college aged), unpaid internships and work can be an awesome way of directly performing all the tips shown above, and standing out from your peers. First and foremost, it shows the employer that you have a high enough interest in the company that you’re willing to forego pay. This alone goes a long way. Furthermore, this opportunity gives you a chance to show the company your skills, creative thinking, and problem-solving abilities in a real work environment, not just in a classroom. You also have countless opportunities to connect with other employees in the company, maybe even the super-influential ones. It also certainly gets your name out there at the company. You create an opportunity for yourself to show employers your individual and creative thinking, which could make them more willing to hire you into a paid position.
These are just some of the ways college graduates can stand out from their similarly-educated peers. To help their chances out even more, they should start working on these – and other ways they think would set themselves apart – while in college, so that they have a solid network upon graduation that leads to a job.