Lessons from the Front Line: How Today’s College Seniors are Setting Themselves Apart in a Brutal Job Market

In one of the worst job markets since the 1930s, it’s more important than ever that entry-level job seekers differentiate themselves amongst the competition to land their first gig.  Steve wrote about a student who is doing it right in a recent post, and last week he, Ted and Peppercom internship coordinator Alicia Wells talked to some college seniors and recent grads about job hunting strategies, personal branding and how to stand out as ideal entry-level candidates.  Peppercom interns Tom Showalter, Elle Kross and Amelia Denson, as well as seniors Meredith Hutchins of the College of Charleston, Katie Green of Syracuse University and Jessica Slevin of University of Georgia share their experiences and insights on how they’re overcoming the challenges of a particularly brutal job market. Please add your thoughts. We want to help everyone get through this, so share tips, advice, or disagree with what we’ve said.


3 thoughts on “Lessons from the Front Line: How Today’s College Seniors are Setting Themselves Apart in a Brutal Job Market

  1. Hi Beckman and Bridget- thanks for the comments. Beckman- I agree completely on making your resume “scannable.” I would especially recommend including specific examples of the work that you did- so rather than “conducted media relations” say “conducted media relations on behalf of X number of clients and secured coverage in X, Y and Z publications.” Not only is it more interesting to read, it shows specific proof of your value.
    Bridget- excellent tips! Some of them certainly take some extra effort (volunteering, developing an online presence), but the payoff could be huge. Keep up the good work!

  2. Seven listeners! Thank you for putting this together. I’m going to wear high-heeled shoes during my next phone interview. I have a few tips to add to the conversation:
    1. Never stop gaining more experience. Non-profits would love to have your help. You can revamp an organization’s Web site, update its brochure, establish the organization on the sites I just mentioned, develop an internship program (I have a feeling many college students will have to obtain internships at non-profits during the next few years) or even pitch upcoming events to local media. Experience matters!
    2. Make your presence known. Establish accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or your university’s alumni network. Join groups and follow thought leaders. Write comments on their page. Lastly, and most importantly, post your resume on one of your accounts and link back to it on other sites.
    3. After you apply for a job/internship, follow-up and keep trying. Don’t give up if you get a HR manager’s voicemail. You think you’ll get a call back? Maybe you will, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
    4. Use spare time wisely. Rather than going on vacation during spring break, I traveled to NYC for job interviews, informational interviews and an educational retail tour. Also, subscribe to newspapers, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post or PRWeek. PRWeek is a great source to learn about digital media trends.
    I hope this helps. Happy hunting!

  3. I just listened to the Rep Chatter, which I suppose now means your audience has grown to six listeners. I did find it beneficial as a student looking to graduation. Fortunately, I have one more year until major decisions concerning a career need to be made. One aspect of the program I definitely agree with is when the speaker emphasized how important writing is to potential employers. I completed an internship last summer with a PR firm and they told me that one main reason I got the internship was because of my strong writing background. At a university level it is imperative to promote the art of writing and editing for that skill will ultimately make you stand out once in the “real world.” Another piece of advice I received from a professor was to make my resume scanable. Most employers do not have the time to look over your resume for hours and hours, no matter how magnificent it may prove to be. By making your resume and cover letter easily readable and eye catching you have a great opportunity to catch the attention of a potential employer. Also, do NOT make the mistake of putting the wrong employers name on a cover letter, even if you do use similar letters for various companies. That occurred last summer where I work and my boss simply ditched it into the trash can without a simple glance. It is an easy mistake, so avoid it at all costs!