Follow this advice, all ye soon-to-be job hunters

Nick Payne and Nick Payne

Finding a job after graduation may not be as easy as one might think.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other students out there with the same qualifications as others fighting for the same job. So, the million dollar question is, how can I make myself stand out?

Get involved on campus. There is a student organization for almost every major on campus, from nursing to advertising to human performance. Professors and faculty are the first step towards getting ahead of the pack.

Practice networking skills on the people that are closest to you every day. Without making contacts in the business that you are planning on making a career out of, it is going to be difficult to get noticed.

Make sure that you present yourself well in any situation. If you were in an elevator with Bill Gates, and you only had 15 seconds, what would your pitch be? Think about it. This is a once in a lifetime chance to get a huge job, and you can’t get it by being star struck. Practice this “elevator pitch” as often as possible. Make sure that you make it as specific as possible, and have a brief description of who you are and what your goals are.

Your “elevator pitch” is not only important in those situations, but it is also your opener in most formal interviews. The employer knows who you are on paper, but wants to hear it from you in a clear structured manner that accents your personality.

The other big thing is to build your resume. Find something somewhere that demonstrates leadership and your ability to work with others. In your resume always use action words as opposed to descriptive terms. This shows that you are not painting a picture of yourself but demonstrating your abilities through experience.

Also, try to quantify any information as often as possible. There is nothing better than going into an interview and showing that the last job or project that you worked on increased profit by 12 percent because of your interaction.

Finally, prepare five different stories or experiences to use as examples in your interview. Most employers are based on a behavioral question system now, not the typical “what would you do in this situation” style. Behavioral interviewing is based more on “tell me a situation where you had to…”

These examples should include quality orientation, relationships, customer focus, decision-making and technical professional information. Having all of these prepared will almost always keep you from being stumped in an interview.

Always take notes during an interview, formal or informal. Ask questions as often as possible, and do not be afraid to direct questions towards your interviewer. This not only gives you an advantage on the next interview (hopefully you will only have one), but allows you to have a small notepad out to reference your experiences to if you are nervous or go blank.

Build your resume and prepare your pitch because sooner or later you will be put into a situation where you must stand out above the average student. Network, be a leader and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. These are all highlights of advice that I have taken from professors, conferences and interviews myself. I hope you all are working hard towards your dream job. Happy job hunting!

Nick Payne writes for the Student Printz, the student newspaper at the University of Southern Mississippi in Harrisburg, Miss.