The Advice that helped 50+grads land high-paying jobs after college

When you make it about you, you say “I’m qualified for a job.” When you make it about the company, you say “I’m exactly what you’re looking for.”

Something interesting happened to me the summer after my freshman year in college. I got rejected for an internship. Not just one, but so many that I lost count. Somehow, this experience was transformative for me. Not in some cliche way though it probably would’ve been cool if I had used the experience as motivation to start a summer business. I didn’t. I just settled for a job in a warehouse.

This experience was transformative because it the first time that I was exposed to so many human resources representatives. Here I was an inexperienced college student sending my resume to anyone who would take it, and on the other end was a person with the power to make or break my career (so I thought at least). It was in the shadow of this experience and in search of that power that I decided I wanted to go into human resources.

Here I was an inexperienced college student sending my resume to anyone who would take it, and on the other end was a person with the power to make or break my career (so I thought at least).

Once I landed my first HR job, I became intimately aware of things that people on the other side of the job search have no clue about. Realizing that I had some insider knowledge and that I could use that knowledge to help others avoid my pitfalls and land their dream jobs, I eventually started a small consulting business. For $25/hour, I would sit with college students and offer them advice on their job search. As my business grew to over 50 clients, I noticed a few consistent trends.

Here is the most common problems college grads/students came to me with and the advice I give them to help them land jobs.

The Perfect Candidate

I’ve applied to over 25 jobs and have been rejected by most of them. Of the 3 that did offer me an interview, they ended up being too good to be true or jobs that I wouldn’t enjoy doing. I have a great resume and I know that the job market is supposedly good right now. What am I doing wrong?

“The most important tool you have on a resume is language.” – Jay Samit

This problem is the most common. In fact as I mentioned before, I was in this exact situation the summer after my freshman year. After countless hours of reviewing and redesigning my resume over and over again in attempt to get an interview for some of the most basic intern positions, I had almost given up. I took a moment and thought. What was I doing that kept ruining my chances of getting an interview? The answer was simple: I was making it all about me.

“I’m a great student,” I thought. “I’ve never made below an A in any class.” While I’m sure a 4.0 looks good on a resume to many recruiters, I’m not sure they ever got a chance to see it. Today’s reality is that there is an abundance of talent out there. The way you push yourself to the front of the pile determines whether or not your resume will even be seen by a real person. Companies have goals and needs and they seek employees who will accomplish them. No longer should your resume be saying, “I can do a job.” It should be saying, “I can do this job.”

If you’re sending resume to everyone who will take it, I doubt that you’re putting a lot of thought into how you fit into the role you are applying for. That’s misguided because that is the criteria by which a company judges you.

The quote I offered is true. “The most important tool you have on a resume is language.” But I’d like to add on to it. The most important tool you have on a resume is the right language. Today, applying for a job nearly always means some sort of screening process sits between you and that interview. One amazingly simple way to make sure you are saying the right things to get past the screening process is with Jobscan, though there are other ways such as using a tag cloud.

As Melanie Pinola at Life Hacker puts it, “applicant screening software may be all that’s standing between you and a job interview. To get past it, you need to make sure your resume has all the relevant keywords matching the job description. That’s where Jobscan comes in.”

The site allows you to paste your resume, and then paste the job posting. Once finished, it rates your resume on how well it matches with the job description. It does so by analyzing the posting for the skills the company appears to seeking against the skills you have on your resume. You can use this information to optimize your resume and help you land the interview with the company of your dreams. Be sure to make sure your resume is formatted in an easy to read way.

When you make it about you, you say “I’m qualified for a job.” When you make it about the company, you say “I’m exactly what you’re looking for.”