3 Ways to Stand Out During the Job Search

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For college seniors, graduation is an exciting time. For those who have not yet committed to a job, it can also mark the beginning of what can be a dizzying job search process. Scouring career sites and sending off resumes becomes a daily ritual.

Three years ago, I found myself in the same situation after I walked across the stage at University of Delaware and received my bachelor’s degree. I completed countless job applications. I prepped for phone and in-person interviews. I’ll even admit: I dealt with a few rejection letters. However, it all paid off when I landed my first full-time job. Based on my experience, here are my tips that might just help you, too:

1. Use Your Connections

By now, you likely have a few internships or volunteer opportunities under your belt. You should also have a LinkedIn account. It should be complete with your updated resume and work samples. You should also be connected to professionals from internships, networking events or campus-related activities. If not, reach out to classmates or friends who have already committed to a job. That’s a great way to build up your network. Sending off your job application and waiting patiently for that email or phone call from your potential employer may not be enough to stand out.

Instead of just applying for a job and calling it a day, use LinkedIn to locate the hiring manager. After you find the right profile, check to see if you have any shared connections and leverage them. If you find that the hiring manager is connected with a previous boss or colleague, ask if they would send a recommendation on your behalf. It will show your potential employer that you took the initiative to stand out and are sincerely interested in the job.

2. Follow Up

Rarely do you hear back in the mythical “three-week time frame.” After anxiously refreshing your inbox for a month waiting for a reply, it’s time to take action. With some digging, you should be able to locate an e-mail to the company’s recruiter or Human Resources department. Show further interest in the job by inquiring about the status of the job selection process. Be sure to include the job ID number, if there is one.

3. Keep it Classy

It’s still a good idea to send the courtesy “thank you” e-mail after your interview. Set yourself apart from the pack by also sending a carefully hand-written letter via snail mail. It’s called snail mail for a reason, and those three or four days it takes to get delivered will serve as a refresher of your qualifications after your first interview. With some employers receiving hundreds of e-mails per day, another digital note in their inbox may come across as just that — something expected and not all too thrilling. Keep it classy and old-school and put the pen to the paper!

As you embark on your job search and new career, be sure to find some time to relax and rejoice! Successfully completing college is one of the most important steps an individual can take towards their career. Though the job application process can seem intimidating, you’re on the right path: just five percent of young adults with a bachelor’s degree and two percent with an advanced degree are not employed, according to Money Under 35, a study conducted by Navient and the global research company Ipsos among young adults aged 22–35.

Among all young adults with at least a bachelor’s degree, 75 percent believe their education prepared them for the workforce.

For more information on common career stages, tactics to build professional relationships, and how to plan and excel in a meaningful and prosperous career, visit Navient’s Career Playbook module.

Nick LaMastra is a media analyst for Navient, a student loan servicer helping more than 12 million customers successfully repay their student loans. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Delaware.

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