It’s been many years since I came out of undergrad, but one story I like to tell others who are looking to land their next role, is how I got my dream job right out of school. There’s a lot that goes into it, but in this article, I’ll tell you about the one thing I did to help me stand out from the rest of the candidates, and how you can do the same. Read on!
Finishing my Undergraduate Business Degree
Although this was awhile back, I still remember it quite well, but I was starting my senior year fall semester in college where I had planned to graduate that December, so recruiting was in full swing. I had a shortlist of companies I was interested in, but there was one in particular that I gravitated towards. It was with Dell in Austin for a full-time role in marketing and sales, so to be able to take a job doing what I learned in school, in tech at a company I deeply admired was an incredible opportunity, and I had to bring my A-game. After applying, I eventually find out when my interview is, which was about a week out.
Now before I go any further, let me preface with this – when companies are identifying candidates and going through the vetting process, they’re usually looking at a complete picture and making a judgement based on many factors. They look at your grades, extra curriculars, internships, other jobs, maybe references, and then in the interview they’re gauging personality and thought process – if given a situation or problem, how would you approach it?
With all that said, for context, I had a 3.5 GPA, fairly solid, and had been very involved one of the business school organizations for some years. All around, I’d say a strong resume. However, I knew people with better grades and even more involvement, and perhaps more work experience. Needless to say, I couldn’t rest on my laurels. I had to find a way to stand out.
What I did to stand out
I spent the entire week working on what effectively was a full-fledged business marketing proposal. To the best of my ability with what data was publicly available, I put together a 16-page proposal, binded and laminated, on how the company could improve their marketing. Now, the details of that proposal aren’t important here for the story, but what is important is that companies are trying to understand what value you could bring to the organization. What better way to communicate that than to actually do or create something of value for them before even working there? I get to the interview and all goes well, and at the very end, the business proposal was my leave behind for the hiring manager to take home. I simply said “By the way, I’d like to hand this to you. It’s a proposal I worked on for your company and it outlines a strategy to improve marketing.” Didn’t give much more detail because we were parting ways, but the intent was to leave with an impact.
Now, whether they read it thoroughly or skimmed through it, I’m not quite sure, but at minimum, they saw that I took the time and effort to put forth a product of my work specific to that company, which is more than what most people would do. Compared to other candidates, I may have been a contender amongst other strong candidates, but this proposal was the unique value proposition I brought to the table that others did not.
If you want a role bad enough, put in the work and show your value. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a lengthy marketing proposal, but do your research and demonstrate the type of work you can do specific to that company. This also means that you should be mindful of your grades (whether anyone likes it or not, it is one part of the picture that helps recruiters determine which candidates are viable, though it is not the “be-all, end-all”), your extracurricular activities, and any other work experience you might have. You want to present the best version of yourself, and going the extra mile on showing value will put you above other candidates.