Being young and/or fresh out of school is rough. You have a degree, but no work experience. Or, you have work experience and no degree. Then, when you apply, you're resume is just going to a large ocean of resumes in an HR database somewhere. Standing it out is no easy task. So, how do you, as someone looking for a job, stand out from the crowd?
To find out we talked to PwC's Alexa Merschel. Alexa is the U.S. Campus Recruiting Leader at PwC, which if you haven't heard is one of the world's largest professional services firms. It has been for decades. Alexa is responsible for the overall campus recruitment strategy at the firm, including programs and initiatives for students. Her department helps PwC staff the best and brightest from 200 US colleges and Universities. Around 11,000 students and interns every year. She drives the strategy behind PwC's student programs, such as Elevate, Challenge, Advance, Launch, as well as International Internships.
It's a cliche, but when you are applying for a job you are selling yourself (unfortunatley you don't learn much about selling in school). It's important you only market and sell to your target market. After all, if everyone is your customer, then no one is your customer. Steakhouses don't market to vegetarians do they? Knowing who you are and what you want to do is a great way to improve how you market yourself. It also helps you allocate your time to the right projects, networking events and opportunities.
Alexa and her team at PwC created a new online tool called CareerAdvisor that helps students figure out where their strengths are and unlock their potential on how to get there. Kind of like devising a content marketing strategy for your own personal brand!
Students can best prepare themselves for the job market by doing self-inventory, identifying professional goals and managing an online presence. Things CareerAdvisor all helps with.
- Build your personal brand:
Students can build a personal brand online and offline. Keep your Facebook account personal (friends and family). LinkedIn should be entirely professional. Twitter account should have relevant articles to topics your interests in.
- Take things offline as well:
Students have a huge network offline - neighbours, friends, associates. Ask around, tell people what you want to do. Here are some ways to grow your online and offline network. Do some research! Self-inventory is huge. Figuring out what you want to do and having a roadmap can give you a leg up on the competition.
- Customize your resume:
No spelling mistakes and one-page. Also make sure a competing company's name isn't on your resume. Mistakes show a lack of attention to detail.
- Quantify your results:
Use numbers to show results to things you've done (eg; grew sales by 11%).
- Reach out:
To recruiters, HR, hiring managers on LinkedIn to get through the volumes of resumes. HR and recruiters are open to chatting with candidates. Be more careful about messaging people you don't know. Try to build a rapport with them first. You can do this by sharing articles and helpful insight. Show your value to them as opposed to just sending them a message and begging them to refer your resume.
- Be prepared and positive:
PwC and other organizations love candidates that understand the opportunities that exist at the organization, what the job entails, how you can help and problems you think you can solve. Use stories that show your leadership skills or other skills that prove skills that the interviewer is interested in. First impressions count!
- Accept constructive criticism:
If you don't get the job after an interview you can improve for the next interview by asking for feedback. Find out what went well, what didn't etc. Sometimes you may just be an outfielder and they are looking for a short-stop. It's not that your bad. So take the feedback and use it to move forward.
Write great cold-emails and follow-up emails that show your gratitude and professionalism.