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Stand Up & Stand Out
In today's competitive job market, use these tips to break through the crowd and get noticed by potential employers

By Dan Gomez-Palacio
Director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center
Published Winter 2017-18, Affinity magazine

Meet recruiters in person.
Part of the frustration in the job hunt is the dehumanizing aspect. You are reduced to a sheet of paper or online profile. One way to overcome this is to meet recruiters face-to-face, where you can expand on your experience and make a stronger impression. Look for local career fairs in your community or at colleges that are open to the public. Additionally, virtual career fairs are becoming much more common and can be a unique way to speak with employers.

Get involved in a professional association.
Most industries have a local chapter of a professional association where you can get involved. Organizations such as the Society for Human Resources Management, Association of State CPAs and Public Relations Society of America have regional groups that you can join, become a volunteer and attend events.

Build your network.
I always recommend strengthening your LinkedIn account as a way to connect with professionals. Build up your personal network and see what connections you have in your aspired field. Invite contacts to coffee or request a short phone call or Skype chat to learn more about their employers. If you have contacts at a specific organization, touch base individually to see what suggestions they can give you to make yourself stand out.

Depending on your field, there may be ways for you to volunteer to gain experience. Contact your local United Way to find organizations that need help. Everything from event planning, accounting, mentoring, teaching: chances are an organization could use your help. Personal experiences will expand your network and build up your resumé.

Practice interviewing.
If you have been going on interviews but they are not resulting in offers, try practicing your interviewing skills with a professional or even a friend. You need someone who can give you honest feedback on your responses, body language and confidence levels. You can also record yourself answering questions and gauge your behavior. Is negativity creeping into your answers? Do you stay on point and highlight your skills and accomplishments? Interviewing is a skill that takes repetition and practice; the more you work on it, the better you will be.

Dan Gomez-Palacio is the director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center. Career counseling, networking and resumé assistance are available free of charge to all students and alumni. To get started, contact Career Services at (800) 231-2391 ext. 7425 or visit