How To Stand Out and Land the Interview

Land the Interview

The following is a guest post by Daif Said.  His bio follows.

According to Forbes, when you apply to a job opening you are competing against 117 other people on average.  Think about that for a second.

You are just one person in a sea of people vying for the employer’s attention. Many of those candidates are also well rounded and are doing all the right things to prepare for the job.

With so many applicants for each job opening, companies are now using software to eliminate candidates that do not have the right words on their resume. You might be eliminated before any human even looks at your resume. So how do you survive all that and be one of the select few to land the interview?

In this case, being different requires a little creativity and a bit of effort.

Sizing Up the Competition

In landing an interview, just as in business, it’s important to understand what the competition is up to. The goal is to understand what they are doing so you can do something different to stand out. Let’s use an example to illustrate the situation.

You’ve found an internship position for the summer that you’re interested in. It’s with an exciting company that is revolutionizing an industry. The job is challenging but would help you hone many important career skills, not to mention look great on a resume. You know you are qualified for the internship and you apply online.

Now let’s look across to the competition. What do you think others college students are doing to land that interview?

Here’s what almost every applicant is doing: they found the job listing, quickly updated their resume, applied to the job, and then went on to apply to a bunch of other jobs just like it. Now they wait and hope for a call back.

What you quickly realize from this made up scenario is that they’ve basically done the same thing you did: found the internship, applied online, and are now just patiently waiting. Its no wonder all the applicants look similar to the employer.

The most important thing though is that the competition has made it easier for you to stand out.

The Window

When the competition all lines up to enter through the door, the fastest way to get in is through the window. That means approaching the situations a bit differently. While you have to apply online anyway, that’s only the beginning. You need to find creative ways to help the employer put a face to the name on your resume.

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Find another way in

The world is very connected which means there is likely a way for you to get in touch with the people at the company. You might know a friend that has had an internship there, a family member who knows someone there, or a professor that has contacts at the company. They can all help you get in front of the right person who in turn would be able to help you stand out from the crowd.

Friendly Recommendation

Many schools work directly with local companies to place talent. With that in mind, you likely have classmates that might have an internship there. If you know them on a personal level and they can attest to your work, why not ask for a recommendation?

Companies always ask their employees for help them find the right person because they trust the recommendations of their own people. This can easily help you land an interview, bypassing everyone who simply applied online.

Searching LinkedIn and Saying Hello

One of the best ways you can start your search is simply going on LinkedIn and searching for the company. If you’ve done a good job of building your LinkedIn profile , then you will likely have someone who is a first, second, or third connection that has links to the company.

If you are connected to someone who works at the company, you might be able to find out the name of the hiring manager.

Meet the Hiring Manager

While it might seem difficult, there are ways you can get in front of the hiring manager before any interviews are held. Lauren, our former intern, landed a lunch with our team when a friend of her sister’s, a colleague of ours, introduced us to her. Our colleague raved about her and told us how she thinks Lauren would be a good fit.

By reaching out to her sister who in turn reached out to our colleague, Lauren helped her chances of landing an interview and eventually got the job. She got creative, differentiated herself from the many others who applied and it all paid off.

Stand out from the crowd!

It’s a competitive job market and you need to be prepared to stand out from the crowd. Be unique in your approach.


About Daif Said

Daif is the author of Come Out Swinging. In it, he outlines the steps he took to land a great job out of college. And to continue to quickly move up the ranks. By 24, he already had a six figure salary. After helping others land great internships, jobs, and big pay increases, he realized that others just didn’t have the guidance to help prepare them for the job market that he did. This book is his way of giving back.


Image credits.

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Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.