How to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

This is for my college graduates out there.

The “skills” section of a resume can be the most intimidating for recent graduates with little to no experience in the job market. And with the number of graduates rising every year, you’re going to fall in with the rest of applicants that just don’t cut it. That’s why it has become so important to seek out the right opportunities that will give you the experience employers are looking for.

What exactly are they looking for?

When universities are focused on the employability of their students, they look for opportunities that will give them development beyond the classroom. This is why they offer career advisors, networking and mentor support, even internships and extracurriculars, as well as on and off-campus work. 

Internships give students great insight into the workplace, but can be very competitive. 

Volunteer opportunities are less competitive and can help students develop more interpersonal skills, like resilience and moral engagement. 

We know impressive academic performance combined with extracurricular activities can give people a high level of employability. But which one is the best option for busy students?

Research shows that extracurricular activities are the better choice over co-curricular activities, and internships are a better look for the graduate level applicants versus volunteer opportunities. The cool thing, however, was that time duration didn’t seem to sway any employers one way or another. 

So what does this mean for you?

We know you can’t be expected to do everything. So you need to be selective when it comes to what kind of experience you want under your belt. Based on the research, focus on off-campus activities before anything on campus. For example, take the project assistant position for a charity before you agree to be a class representative or teacher’s assistant.

Internships are harder to come by, so keep them at the top of your list, but consider volunteering during the time you haven’t landed one yet. Last but not least, focus less on the amount of time you’re going to spend in a position, and more on what the role involves and what you can learn.

And when in doubt, any work experience is better than none at all.

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