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The Class of 2023 is still feeling the impact of the pandemic on their educational experience. Virtual classes, canceled study abroad plans, suspended athletic programs, and lack of available internships compromised the robust and exciting four years they had anticipated.

But with graduation on the horizon, how can this year’s new batch of job seekers position themselves as strong competitors for the available jobs?

Here are five ways to stand out in a crowded market for your first post-graduation job:

  1. Develop your brand. Brand? Yes—you have a brand! Write out what you do best and the ways in which you add value. Become comfortable talking about your accomplishments and how you made a difference. Still not sure how others perceive you or what to take credit for? Ask your friends, family, teammates, professors, and project partners. Asking for feedback will uncover themes for you and support what you already know about yourself.
  • Showcase what you do have. Position a strong GPA, graduation honors, scholarships, awards, and faculty recognition front and center on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Did you grow up bilingual? Have you emigrated from another county, lived abroad, or had some unique experience that has contributed to making you a better communicator, team member, or leader? These are all great ways to differentiate yourself from your competition and make you a stronger candidate for the job you seek.
  • Demonstrate what you’ve gained from an internship or study abroad experience. Mention the work you did, but more importantly, what you learned from it and how it will translate into the workplace. Focus on takeaways: skills gained, software used, collaborations undertaken, and any unique opportunities you participated in like competitions or special projects.
  • Highlight your leadership experience. If you were a team captain, held a student office, worked as a residence assistant, or started a fraternity, include it in your resume and LinkedIn profile. Leadership experience can also come from engaging in volunteer activities like fundraising for nonprofits, church activities, or tutoring. Keep in mind, an organization does not have to sanction your leadership experience, meaning, you can feel confident talking about the experiences that you have created on your own. Tell the story of why you did it, its impact on others, and how it will benefit a future employer.
  • Don’t forget travel. Travel exposes you to different cultures and people. It changes the way you view the world and act within it. Translate those experiences into how these learnings make you a more open and inclusive team member. If you’ve traveled on your own, be sure to reflect on how more independent and confident in your abilities it made you and how you navigated new challenges and solved problems you may not have anticipated along the way.

It’s important to remember that a full-time employment position is not the same as an internship. Internships are designed to provide you with experience to improve your skill set. They are intended to be learning experiences. While you will gain experience and expand your skill set in your first post-graduation job, you will be hired to solve a problem for an employer; to add value. Avoid asking for the job to “learn more,” and rather, talk about what you can offer them. Make it a win for both of you.

Want more great tips? Check out for recent career-related information I’ve shared on numerous podcasts, television outlets, and radio shows.

Visit the Inspire Careers YouTube channel to enjoy diverse content I share through video and don’t forget to subscribe to be notified when new content is added. Our Spotlight Series Podcast is also available wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

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