January 18, 2018

Set yourself apart from the competition after college

Set yourself apart from the competition after college - photo copyright 2011 Rick Sherrell

Congratulations, you’ve finished college! You’ve got your degree. You’ve celebrated with your friends and family and now it’s time to find that first job.

There’s only one problem. Thousands of other graduates are in your shoes too. As a result, competition for those elusive first jobs is tough – and given today’s economic climate it’s only getting tougher.

So what can you do to set yourself apart from the competition? Believe it or not it’s not as hard as it sounds. Here are five ways you can make yourself stand out from the crowd and get the interview and the first job of your dreams.

Step 1 – Be proactive

As soon as you graduate you can’t fall into the trap of thinking “I have a degree, I’ll be snapped up in no time.” You won’t.

Thousands of other graduates will be hunting for that first job, just like you – so you need to be proactive. The best way of doing this is to start by tailoring your search to your circumstances. What is your degree in? Are you after a graduate-only job? Can you be flexible on your location? Do you want a big company or small one?

Once you know precisely what it is you want to do, you need to get on the case and be proactive – hunting out your prospective employers’ websites and making contact.

Step 2 – Don’t be afraid to ask

Once you know what it is you want to do, don’t hang around waiting for a position to come up at the company – be proactive and make an approach – there’s no harm in asking!

Start off by finding their website and researching what it is they do, the services they provide and the careers they have on offer. They are bound to have contact details, so don’t be afraid to either pick up the phone or send a polite email to register your interest in the company. You could ask if they have any career openings coming up soon, if they do work shadowing placements, if they expect to expand on certain services.

You could even send your resume and outline why you think you’d be a perfect fit for their organization – after all, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Even if they don’t have a vacancy right now your name will be in the forefront of their minds should one come up.

Step 3 – Hunt those job websites

This goes without saying, but you need to make a list of job websites and search them on a daily basis. Although this won’t be fun (and can be somewhat disheartening after filling in endless online applications), you need to at least get your resume in the pile.

You can make life much easier on yourself by adding job sites to your favorites in your internet browser and tailoring your search to your needs. Also be sure to sign up to job website newsletters after inputting your key terms to make sure you’re kept up to date with all the latest vacancies.

Step 4 – Tailor your resume to fit

When applying for a vacancy, you need to think like the person who is hiring. With most employers only glancing at a resume you only have seconds to stand out – so don’t think that a generic one will tick all of their boxes and land you that job, because it won’t. You need to tailor your resume to fit each and every job you apply for by giving examples of how your experience fits their requirements.

Ask yourself the following five questions:

  1. What qualities can I bring to this company’s role?
  2. How does my work experience meet this company’s requirements?
  3. How have I demonstrated success in the past?
  4. How can I show this company I’m a team player?
  5. What hobbies or pastimes do I have which show me as an exemplary candidate?

Make sure each and every resume is tailored to each and every vacancy. It is the only way you will set yourself apart from the competition because you can be sure most of them will be sending a generic one.

Step 5 – Don’t give up

Setting yourself apart from the competition is much more than a stunning resume. It takes time to get an interview and you’re bound to be rejected, but don’t take it to heart. While you’re hunting for that job and applying for roles, you need to keep yourself busy else you really will get down.

Staying active is key to a healthy mind, so keep yourself fit. Go for a run, take up a hobby, volunteer on a project – do the things you love which you can use to show an employer that you’ve not been sitting around idly for months. If you’re really serious about standing out from the crowd, take a part-time job, whether that’s a local pizza parlour or burger bar, because it show’s you’re a hard worker and not afraid to get your hands dirty.

But above all else, don’t give up. The right job for you is out there – and you’ll get there in the end. Just remember to stay focused and stay positive and you’ll stand head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to that interview.

Good luck!

Guest blogger Dominic Wake is Director at ETSplc, provider of 360 degree feedback surveys for employers. For more information about employment surveys, please visit the website.


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