I've had the privilege of chatting with a lot of students and recent grads (young professionals) on my book tour, and one of the questions I often get asked is: "How can I make myself stand out when a lot of other applicants have more education and professional experience?"


I always start by saying, “Breathe."

Then, I usually recommend the following:

1. Request Informational Interviews

Young professional requests an informational interview with a company

The best, and most strategic, way young professionals can stand out in a crowded job market is to request informational interviews with leaders in your target companies BEFORE they post jobs you want to apply for. Fortunately for you, it's much easier to be granted an informational interview when you play the "I'm a recent graduate" card.

During your informational interview, make sure to ask questions that show you really understand the company, its culture, and be clear on how you can provide the kind of results they're looking for. This will give you an inside connection when a job does emerge.

Don't forget to connect with those you meet at these companies on LinkedIn!

2. Position Yourself As An Emerging Leader

Young leader smiles at the camera

Young professionals can position themselves as emerging leaders in their field by creating a content-rich blog and strong social media presence.

Connect with leaders in your field by citing their work and interviewing them in your posts. As relationships develop, make yourself irresistibly attractive by asking them how you can help them. And when they most likely ask you the same question, don't be afraid to let them know who and what you are looking to connect to.

3. Hone In On Your Greatest Strengths

Group of young professionals work together using their different strengths

When it comes time for you to apply for a job, hone in on your two to three greatest strengths and link them to the primary responsibilities and expectations of your prospective position.

In the event you get your resume past the ATS and land an interview with the company, watch the tendency to have lengthy answers to questions about weaknesses. Remember, it's your strengths you want to emphasize and have a prospective employer walk away remembering! No need to over-explain what you're working on improving about yourself as a young professional.

4. Show You're A Sponge

Young professional learns something new at work

Most importantly, show you're a sponge. In your networking, cover letters/resumes, and interviews, display your commitment to absorbing new information quickly, your desire to learn and grow in your role, and always be able to cite examples of how you have done this in the past.

Use the Experience + Learn = Grow framework in the interview process, and you'll be sure to impress employers and stand out from the competition.

Download Work It Daily\u2019s free list of common interview questions

It is possible for young professionals to stand out in a crowded job market. If you're a recent college graduate or considered young in your industry, follow the tips above to land a job even when competition is at its highest.


Looking for a job? We can help! Join our career growth club today and get access to one-on-one career coaching, resume and cover letter reviews, online tutorials, and unlimited networking opportunities—all in your back pocket!

If you want FREE career advice in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter The Daily Dose!


This post was originally published at an earlier date.