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5 Ways New Grads Can Stand Out
By: Mike Bush
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Hello, recent grad. You just got your diploma, and now you’re trying to figure out how to get in the door. Like many of your classmates, you may be frantically filling out job applications (seriously, why can’t Taleo ever get the "import from resume" function right?!), sending resumes and cover letters, and hoping.

You’re not alone in this endeavor. We’ve all been there. And you’re also not alone in this endeavor because you have lots of competition for the jobs you’re applying for.

Following are five ways in which you can stand out from the crowd.

  1. Make a checklist of everything the job description asks for, and make sure you hit every item. This may sound like common sense, but if a job description asks for a writing sample as part of the application process, you need to send a writing sample with your application. If a job description asks for examples of successful social media initiatives, include them. Many of the people vying for the same job will leave something out. Patient hiring managers may still consider the forgetful, albeit as a fallback option. Folks without patience will file incomplete applications in their email trash bin.  
  2. Proof everything you’re sending in. This is especially true if you’re applying through your university’s job board, where you may have saved a generic document. I admit it…it is tedious sending resume after resume, but while other people eventually get bored with proofing and just starting sending whatever they have written already, the applicant who customizes their materials to the job description, and sends without spelling, grammar, and other obvious errors (getting the date wrong, etc.) will be a step ahead.
  3. Remember who your target audience is. The first person who will see your resume and CV may work in HR (in larger organizations), or be an executive (at smaller companies). Either way, the goal of your cover letter should be to make that person feel like hiring you will be helpful…to them. Your cover letter isn’t about you. It’s about how your knowledge and accomplishments can help the company grow. For instance: “I was part of them team that grew a company’s Twitter following by 1,500 people” is WAY different than “I’ve learned how to rapidly grow a company’s Twitter following (by as many as 1,500 people), and can replicate that for your company and your clients.” The former is interesting…the latter is getting called for an interview.
  4. Do your homework on the company you’re hoping to work with. This means going beyond basics (if you’re sending a cover letter to a PR firm that focuses on tech, be sure you like the idea of working with tech companies), and understanding the people involved in the decision. Does the company have a blog, and can you tell who the author is? Did you check out the Twitter and Linkedin profiles of the people you’re going to interview with? Be able to speak to these people about the things they’re posting or Tweeting about.
  5. Send a thank-you note. There is a saying in media training that the last thing you say is the first thing that a reporter will remember. The same is true in the interview process, except that the applicant has far more control over the last word. A good thank-you note should offer a line of thanks and reiterate why you’re the perfect candidate. This can only help your cause.
The job hunt is rarely fun, but candidates who follow the guidelines above are far more likely to find their first gig quickly. Best of luck in your search.

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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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