Word to the Wise

Stand Out to Employers in Four Easy Steps

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Alex Wilson

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Stand Out to Employers in Four Easy Steps

Each year, our Center for Career Development (CCD) guides students to find career support and opportunities that best fit their interests and skills.

From resume reviews and career fairs to mock interviews and their Career Readiness Program, the CCD operates with an open-door policy – setting our business students up for success.

However, COVID-19 arrived and forced doors to close everywhere, as well as some employers to withdraw their internship or full-time job offers.

It was evident that times were changing. The way professors taught and the way staff worked hand-in-hand with students was transitioning to a virtual format. And they weren’t the only ones.

One thing the CCD team realized was that the pandemic had affected the way companies were interviewing students and how new hires were starting out in their careers.

To prepare our students for the virtual world and to help them stand out to employers, the CCD provided four quick tips on how they can maximize their efforts and stand out in the crowd.

professional headshot

  1. Create a Professional/ Personal Digital Brand

Before you apply to internships or full-time positions, it is important to audit your personal online brand. Is it professional, current and interesting? Recruiters actively source candidates through platforms, such as LinkedIn and Handshake (career site for college students) so it is best to ensure your profile grabs their attention with a professional headshot, relevant key words and compelling summaries of your experiences and accomplishments.

You should update your resume in tandem with your online profiles. Does it reflect new skills, experiences and certifications you’ve acquired throughout COVID-19? Plus, don’t forget to tailor your resume to each job description before clicking submit!

Once your resume and profiles are complete, it’s time to grow your connections. Reach out to alumni and professionals in your field, follow organizations where you’d like to work and join networking groups. These are all great ways to learn about job opportunities and get your foot in the door of competitive application processes.

career fair

  1. Identify Which Industries are Thriving and Which Organizations are Hiring

While some industries and organizations have been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19, others —such as online retail and digital workplace solutions — have experienced growth throughout the last year.

Create a list of employers and a profile on their talent network, and sign up for alerts. While you’re still encouraged to apply for jobs at organizations who have undergone a recent contraction, it’s important to focus most of your efforts on viable employers. It’s also easier to stay motivated when your daily search turns up a high volume of positions.

  1. Upskill on Your Own Time

Whether you’ve been working throughout COVID-19, or you’ve found yourself with more free time than usual, it’s important to focus on your professional growth.

Spend time researching what new skills and experiences your target employers seek in candidates, and develop a plan to acquire them. So, how do you get started? Job descriptions are a rich resource for this information. For instance, if “Tableau” appears in numerous job postings, it’s probably a skill worth exploring.

Keep in mind that not all training platforms are created equal (and be cautious about paying for trainings without extensive research). LinkedIn Learning offers a variety of complementary trainings and the Chambers College hosts workshops on Tableau, Excel, Adobe Creative Suite and more throughout the year.

  1. Practice Your Virtual Interviewing Skills

While many organizations have maintained an in-person interview component throughout COVID-19, your first interaction with the company is likely to be virtual. Most companies conduct phone screens, pre-recorded interviews and live virtual interviews to determine which candidates they would like to advance through the process. There are significant differences in these interview experiences, so it’s critical to practice each one separately through the Center for Career Development’s (CCD) mock interview program.

It’s also important to identify new skills that employers will be evaluating during the interviews, including an increased focus on a candidate’s ability to adapt quickly, work independently and handle uncertainty. Remember to do your research, be honest when answering questions and be yourself!

Learn more about the Center for Career Development and what services are offered through the spring and fall semesters by visiting our website.

Have questions? Email Sarah.Glenn@mail.wvu.edu.