Philadelphia, PA - Statistics showed that in 2017 34.6% of women graduated with a 4 year degree vs. 33.7% of men. This gap has been narrowing for years, and women finally surpassed men for the first time in 2014.
More women are making their mark and creating their trajectory for their futures. I’m proud of us! What this also means is that there will be more women entering this fresh new phase of their lives called a career. As a graduating female pursuing your career, you will find yourself receiving solicited and unsolicited interview advice from friends and family. Regardless of all of the wonderful advice you will hear about resume content, what to wear, and interview questions, there are other components of interviewing that can set you apart:
1. Use Your Network: Lets face it - the Internet is our way of life. We rely on it to shop, work, travel, check the weather and yes, find a job. Everyone uses it, especially when looking for a job. Our first instinct is to go the computer and search popular websites like LinkedIn, Monster, and Ladders. I get it. I’ve done it. These websites provide quick access to available jobs, salaries and requirements. Excellent for visibility to what is out there for you.
But, upon attaching your resume and clicking the submit button there is a risk. You risk getting lost in the shuffle of the hundreds or thousands of other candidates or perhaps going into sheer cyberspace. So, instead of going into cyberspace, or not having your resume reviewed at all, get creative and do something different – network. Network with other people, but without the computer. This is not rocket science I know, but people have gotten away from using themselves as their own best resource. The upside is that fundamentally people like to help people, especially when they are young, diligent and excited about pursuing their careers.
Person to person networking will help you gain momentum in your job search in a flash. Sound overwhelming? Keep it simple. Make a list of 10 people you know who have careers you admire and then, wait for it… CALL them. Email is great too, but emails are commonplace and can be easily ignored. So do something different. When you get them on the phone, let them know you are in the market and looking for the first springboard job into your career. Ask if there is someone at their place of work you could speak with or is there someone else they would recommend. This may feel a little awkward at first, but these chances have to be taken to widen the possibilities of new employment. Even if the person on the other end of the line doesn’t know of an immediate position they may know someone else at another company who does.
2. Write a “Thank You” note: The value of a thank you is so overlooked these days. As simple as this seems, people in general are so fast paced now they don’t take an extra moment to thank someone. In your interview process, after meeting with someone, instead of logging onto email to send a thank you message like everyone else, take a moment and hand-write it. Again, this is an area where email is predictable. Everyone expects an emailed thank you message nowadays, so writing a personal note will differentiate you from the rest. And, don’t save the thank you notes just for those you have interviewed with, write them to people who have helped you in the process. Hiring managers and potential colleagues will appreciate that you took the time to think about your interaction with them. They will always remember you as the person that went the extra mile.
3. Clean up Social Media: Potential employers will look you up on Facebook and Instagram just to see what you are portraying to the rest universe. Previous to graduation, look at all of your social media outlets and clean it up before you begin to interview. Cleaning up means removing any risqué photos, foul language, or anything else that would make a potential employer pause. Even if you have your social media on a private setting, all it takes is someone who is connected with you and a quick screenshot to transmit what you really don’t want others to see.
4. Make them Remember YOU: In this crazy interview environment of competition, process and stress, give yourself a signature statement that will make you stand out. Wear a bright orange shirt with your interview suit, or wear unique glasses to each interview. Employers will remember you and associate you with the signature item. This is also a chance to show your personality, thoughtfulness and creativity. Regardless of your market, a hiring company will appreciate that you want to leave your mark.
5. Be Consistent: While making the interviewing rounds you will most likely be seated in front of other employees for additional interviews in the office. The purpose of this is for everyone to get a beat on you to see if you are right for the team. This is completely normal. During these additional meetings, be consistent with your content and character with everyone. I know this may sound elementary, but this is important because these same people will compare notes on you. Simple rules are be present, don’t get pulled away by your phone, don’t discuss your personal life. Displaying professional etiquette and respect for those around you will go a long way.
This is your time to shine and show off all of the wonderful reasons an employer should hire you. Be authentic, thoughtful, professional and prepared and you will succeed. And most of all, remember how special you are. After all you are history makers.
Holly Caplan is a workplace issues expert, award-winning manager and author of Surviving the Dick Clique: A Girl's Guide to Surviving the Male Dominated Corporate World.