So let’s revisit the basics – those seemingly minor, yet commonly overlooked things that can make all the difference in your job search.
Is the Devil in Your Details? How to Stand Out Among the ‘Best and Brightest’.
In today’s recession-tainted job market, skill and ambition have become the bare minimum rather than a sure career ticket. Ask any high-achieving high school graduate: the higher the aim, the tougher the competition. The average high school grad had to face admission rates bordering below the 10% line this past spring, a trend that seems likely to continue in an age where overachieving has become the norm.
For students who accept the Hellish juggernaut that is modern college admissions, the goal is clear: a degree that can catapult them to the head of their applicant pool upon graduation.
Well, what happens when this logic fails – when even the supposed ‘best and brightest’ can’t seem to scrape by?
In a recent, rather offbeat news article, we discovered that Trina Thompson’s answer was a lawsuit. After spending 4 years and $70,000 on her Monroe College information-technology degree, Thompson blames Monroe’s Office of Career Advancement for her stagnant job search and demands a refund.
While we here at Doostang do not necessarily purport a full-blown collegiate lawsuit, we’ve worked with enough frustrated recent grads to relate. There is indeed a disconnect: a nation full of young, intelligent, and motivated college grads without the job market to accept them.
There is a rebellious part of our brain that screams: be drastic! Take to the streets! Protest this terrible injustice! But in lieu of providing legal advice, we would like to offer what we thought were a few creative, rather than radical, tips to help you, the bright and talented, stand out among…who else, but the bright and talented.
1. Know Your NewsFeed
You’ve heard time and time again about how social network sites like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and (of course) Doostang, can help you get ahead in your job search. (Or, alternatively, behind…time to untag those pictures from uncle Lou’s Christmas party, anyone?) But instead of focusing on the content of your ‘about me’ section or the legitimacy of your photos, why not pay more attention to your status updates?
A constant stream of “Johnny is searching for a job”, “Johnny is still on the job hunt”, and “Johnny is absolutely desperate for employment” can get old – fast. Not only that, but status updates like these can make the people in your network feel uncomfortable. Instead, try using your status updates to let people know about all of the things you are doing besides looking for a job. Make updates about friends’ accomplishments, share interesting articles or videos that you’ve found online, or post exciting details about your newest hands-on home improvement project.
Try to post things that encourage conversation. Build a following. People love content, and they’ll reward you for it. Online social networking isn’t any different from face-to-face networking in that it takes time and effort. You have to build relationships before asking for help or advice.
2. Ban Comic Sans
Make a date to sit down with your resume and focus a little more on format rather than content. You’ve undoubtedly gone through and noun-ified all of your verbs by now (I was an “early childhood care specialist” rather than “girl who babysits for her cousins twice a week”, for example) – so now is the time to make your resume beautiful – or, at least, readable.
We personally wish that all resumes could be submitted in Party LET font, but since this practice is typically frowned upon in professional settings, the two main categories you need to be looking at are Serif and Sans-Serif fonts. Serif basically means with a ‘tail’, or the little flip you see on letters in fonts like Times New Roman. Serif fonts give your resume a more traditional look, kind of like how leather-bound books make your apartment seem classy and sophisticated. Sans-Serif are, predictably, fonts without that ‘tail’, and are the family of fonts most often used on the internet (e.g. Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana). They create a more contemporary, streamlined look.
Which font you choose depends on your personal preference and the job that you are applying for. The most common font for business use is Times New Roman, but we advise trying a few fonts on at home just to see what you like.
3. Go Shoe Shopping
The Devil is in the details. It’s common knowledge that polishing yourself up for an interview is an important part of the job search process – but have you polished enough? The fact that your shoes are actually polished or your fingers manicured may carry as much weight as your neatly pressed pantsuit. In short, an interview is like a first date. Just as you don’t know your date well enough to look beyond the petty, your new employer will pick up on cues from wherever possible as well. Make sure that you are giving the best impression – let them fall in love with you before busting out those endearing brown loafers.
So just because it’s career-hunting season and the job competition is that much higher, it doesn’t mean that the bar is raised beyond your reach. Try thinking beyond the obvious to give yourself a competitive edge. Take it from us, the opportunities are out there, (really, we know, we see to it that they’re posted up on the Doostang website every day) – it’s now up to you to go out and get them!
Happy Job Hunting!