March 4, 2014
It’s difficult to stand out to a potential employer, and it’s especially difficult to stand out amongst a community of overachievers like yourself. Sure, your GPA practically denotes you as a genius and you’ve been involved in extracurricular activities since the beginning of your college career. You’re so involved that you can’t even fit all of your experience on your resume. On paper, you look hirable AND desirable. But here’s the catch: Everyone else does too.
So, how are you going to stand out?
It’s easier said than done, but there are ways to set yourself apart from the crowd that just might land you your dream job or internship.
- Request informational interviews. Although less formal and more conversational than the standard job interview, informational interviews give you a chance to chat with a company’s employers, ask questions and soak in the company’s atmosphere. You’ll be asked questions, but it won’t be as nerve wrecking, because you’ll also be expected to ask questions. These interviews will put you a step above people who are simply applying for the job because it will demonstrate your interest in learning about the company and dedication to making connections with the employees.
- Use social media to your advantage. You’re on your phone 24/7 anyway, so you may as well use your social media addiction to your advantage. Before going to a company, firm or corporation, tweet at them and express your excitement to visit. Use appropriate hashtags and tweet at the company, along with any employees you are expected to meet. In addition to this, take the time to “like” the company’s Facebook page and “follow” its LinkedIn and Twitter sites. Showing interest in a company can be as simple as a touch of the screen.
- Be prepared. There’s almost no quality more attractive in an employee than being prepared. Research the company and write down questions to ask them. Express curiosity in what they do and show interest in what they say. Be prepared to listen. It’s seemingly impossible to actually listen to someone when your heart is beating a mile a minute, your palms are sweating and you’ve completely blanked on your next question. But remember to actually listen to their responses. Take what they tell you and refer to their advice or anecdotes later when you follow up.
- Follow up. Be traditional. Instead of sending a follow up email, hand write a thank you note and connect with the employer on LinkedIn. When you ask to connect with him or her, make sure you include a personal message instead of using LinkedIn’s automated message. It’ll make you stand out above others that didn’t take the time to personalize a message. As said above, take something the employer said and refer back to it, whether it’s something candid, informational or simply memorable. Just make sure it’s noteworthy.
- Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your work, including homework assignments, projects, your resume, LinkedIn profiles or social media accounts. Don’t let being professional obscure your uniqueness, individuality or even your sense of humor. Most importantly, remember: It’s possible to be both personal and professional.
Standing out among other overachievers isn’t an easy feat, but the difference between receiving or losing a job can be as simple as a handwritten letter. Take advantage of all of the opportunities you can, and don’t lose your dynamic personality despite pressures of the professional world.
Allison Barwacz is a senior studying Magazine Journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at @abarwacz.