Now that there are fewer jobs, you’ll need to make yourself especially appealing to employers. You’ll also have to make sure that you stand out in their minds when they’re thinking about candidates—you need to differentiate yourself from all of the other applicants. And while you may think that your qualifications and appeal are obvious, a potential employer may not think so. So it’s important to make an effort to stand out in three ways, both in your application and your interview.
1. Internships and Previous Jobs
The first, and probably most important, way in which you need to stand out is with your professional experience and preparation. Make sure to talk about internships and jobs that you’ve had, and be very clear about their relevance. Even if you have to stretch a little bit, emphasize the useful skills and experiences that you’ve had in other positions.
- Did you work as a waiter? Then you have a great customer service experience. You know how to deal with unhappy customers and do what it takes to create a positive experience for them.
- Did you cashier at a local store? You’re reliable, and your employer trusted you enough to handle the store’s money.
Second, you’ll want to differentiate yourself academically. Tell your potential employer about the classes that you enjoyed (if they’re relevant), which ones you excelled in, and how they’re going to help you be successful in your new position.
The benefits of business-related classes, like accounting, management, and finance are obvious. But what about your calculus class? Or chemistry? Depending on your potential position, you may have to get creative with how you’ll apply your academic experience to your new job.
The last way in which you’ll want to stand out to your employer is one that many new graduates (and student applicants) forget about: socially.
If your potential employer doesn’t believe that you’ll be able to get along well with your co-workers, they’ll have a much more difficult time hiring you. Tell your interviewer about how you relate with other people, and how that will benefit you as an employee.
During your interview, it’s good to answer questions seriously and thoroughly, but it’s also good to have a sense of humor. Smile, and do what you can to seem at ease—if it seems appropriate, joke a little with your interviewer. Many people overlook this opportunity to make another good impression on their potential employer, but it can really set you apart.
Chances are—especially in today’s economy—that many people with better academic and professional credentials that yours will be applying for the same job, but if you can convince your interviewer that you will contribute to a fun, low-stress workplace, you’ll have an advantage.
If you make convincing cases on all of these fronts, you’ll have taken a large step toward getting the job that you’re applying for. Prepare yourself to talk about these three things and you’ll be ready to make a strong case for your hiring.