Congratulations to all the new graduates! It’s time to celebrate.

But now the diploma is in hand and all anyone seems to ask is, “So, what are you going to do now? Do you have a job yet?” You cringe.

Or maybe you are entering your final year in college and have no idea how to prepare for the recruiters, interviews or landing that dream job.

Justin Nguyen, a LinkedIn Campus Editor and host of the Young and D.U.M.B. (Dedicated, Up and coming, Motivated, and Bold) Podcast, and Beth Hendler-Grunt, expert career coach and founder of Next Great Step, a firm that guides students and recent grads to achieve career success, have teamed up to answer these pressing questions.

How do you stand out? Why should a company hire you?  Their advice will put you at the top of the selection list.

Justin:  Once you understand that EVERYONE you’re competing with has a good resume, a good GPA, involvement on campus, etc., the only thing that sets you apart is your mindset.

Some mindset shifts that helped me:

  • You have to realize it’s NOT a numbers game, it’s a who remembers you game. 5 people who remember you at a career fair are far more impactful than shaking 50 hands.
  • When you get an interview it’s your job to lose. That means you don’t need to “sell” yourself anymore, your resume did that and they know you already have the skill set they’re looking for. Now it’s time to show the other person that they can see themselves working with you for 40+ hours a week.
  • Try something new. For me, this was the podcast and growing GetChoGrindUp. We aren’t a “huge” brand with millions of followers, but because I showed that I was willing to try something and be a go-getter, companies loved it. It also gave me good talking points rather than relating back to a group project or club meeting for the situational questions.

You might be scared at first, don’t worry I was too, it gets better the more you do it. If you played sports, imagine this as the first time you stepped on the field for an important game. You were probably really nervous, but as time went by you got into the rhythm of things and the nerves left.

If you aren’t a sports person listen to Aristotle – “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

Be something.

Beth: Once you get to the interview, here’s a secret about how you stand out from the crowd. It is not your grades, resume or who you know that makes you appealing to an employer. It’s how you can help the employer accomplish their goals.  Read that again. You want to focus on their goals, not yours. Companies really only worry about 2 things…making money or saving money. It could also be growth, efficiency, or customer service.

Your job is to put yourself in the employers’ shoes and show them how you can help them achieve the metrics that are important to their business. This is how you add value and stand out from the rest.

So, how do you do that when you are only a college student? Here are 3 tips to help you:

  1. Know your skills and talents. Think about what skills you are best at and how that’s important to the job. Explain what experiences you have had in class, jobs, or activities that prove your competence.
  2. Show your impact. Focus on how you can improve an important metric for the company.  Think about class group work where you showed results or a part-time job where you contributed to the bottom line. Validate how you can help the company by focusing on what’s important to them such as time, increased output, or improved customer service.
  3. Show your value. Demonstrate how you can make money or save money for the company.  You might think that you are too young or inexperienced to do that, but you are not. Being a camp counselor contributes to the positive experience of campers and makes them want to return. Working the register at a pizza joint contributes to the volume and revenue bottom line. If you show that you understand what drives their business to make money, you are more appealing to an employer.

Graduates say to us over and over that they worry they do not have the credentials to apply to a job and worry about competing against other graduates from better schools with better grades.  Employers worry about themselves and how they achieve their goals. The more you can make their life easier and help them be successful, the more they will want you…regardless of your grades or degree.

Want access to more career guidance and how to land that first job? Connect with Justin and Beth on LinkedIn. Learn more at Next Great Step.