The Job Search – Step Up & Stand Out

In this competitive graduate jobs market, how can you make sure you stand out from the crowd? Founder of the Grad Soc, George Biddle, suggests 5 simple but effective ways to seriously differentiate yourself from others (while you’re still at university, or soon after graduation).
stand out from the crowd

Photo:  5 Ways to stand out from the crowd

2019 saw some of the UK’s biggest companies pledging billions of £££ of investment into a better provision of skills for their staff – skills that are not directly taught at Universities. The likes of PWC, Amazon, Deloitte & Samsung are just a few examples of big corporates pouring cash money CASH into these skills as they get left further and further behind by new and emerging industries (data protection literally wasn’t even a thing a few years ago). It’s panic central in the corporate world right now because a major skills gap is coming in hot.
So where does that leave you as a poor helpless grad looking for a job at one of these companies? Actually, it gives you a pretty unique opportunity. If gives you a chance to seriously differentiate yourself in a BIG way.
Think about it. It’s you vs another candidate. The other person is ‘perfect on paper’: has a 1st in economics and is the kind of person who just somehow nails psychometrics (weirdo). Under normal circumstances you might have some competition on your hands. But these are not normal circumstances. Instead, you bowl in with skills coming out your ears – skills even their current graduate employees don’t have yet. You tell them you’d be happy to help with their upskilling program because you’re already a whizz in things like GDPR and negotiation. They look at you like you’re one of the three wise men who has come bearing a gift. You stare right back at them in the knowledge that you ARE one of the three wise men bearing a gift.
You get the job immediately.
At the Grad Soc we don’t want you to get left behind, plain and simple. We’re all about giving you the real-life skills you need to succeed and nail your interviews. We want to give you the power of swanning into a job interview with something different, something that sets you apart. Not something that anyone can blag – excellent time management and organisational skills from balancing my degree with my ‘extra-curricular activities’ (lol) – yeh, we’ve all tried that one.
So here’s our top 5 tips to avoid getting lost in the crowd:


 1. Organise something

In today’s graduate market, it’s no longer enough to just get good grades and play the numbers game with 50+ applications. Why not show that you have something extra? Being an organiser demonstrates a little something called initiative. Whether it’s organising a sponsored bike ride, running events for your society, or even getting a group of mates together, writing some code and calling it a hackathon; organising events can be a brilliant way of demonstrating some vital skills outside of academia and anyone can do it. EVEN YOU.

2. Read

I’m not saying read 104 books a day like these self-proclaimed inspirational founders all preach. Set yourself a realistic target every 6 months and try and stick to it. Purchase books in advance if you know what you want to read and have them ready in a pile by your bed as a reminder. This will not only improve your knowledge, it will also improve your vocabulary, the way you speak and articulate yourself to others and make you a more interesting person in general. I’ve included a few of my favourite picks at the end of this blog.
Also, read the news. This might seem like a trivial and long thing to do if you’re not used to keeping up with daily affairs but trust me people will notice instantly. I’ve not been in one interview when they’ve not specifically asked me a question relating to current affairs. This not only equips you with great worldly awareness and more to talk about in conversations, but it also allows you to discover new interests and spark curiosity as different headlines grab your attention.

TIP: If you’re applying to jobs in the legal world for example, get yourself a few different sources for specific legal news, and any mainstream news you read try to consider the legal implications which that event might cough up and bring your thoughts on this into an interview.


3. Learn a new skill

This isn’t as hard as you think. Learning new skills can be something as simple as watching a YouTube tutorial on Excel or nailing down Photoshop or taking a short online course on something (wonder where you would find one of those???). There’s this super cool thing called the internet which has all the information you could ever want at the tip of your fingers – learn to use it effectively. Set aside 30 minutes a week to learn something new. We have a bunch of training courses on our site from GDPR to Marketing Traction in a start-up, things that are a little different but VERY relevant to the working world. Learn something that not many other people know, something outside your degree that shows you can go above and beyond the bare minimum (trust us, attending uni is the bare minimum).

4. Start a blog/vlog

Continuing from point 3…whilst this one won’t be for everyone, it is simply one of the most rewarding, confidence-boosting things you will ever do. You not only become a better writer, you improve your ability to organise your thoughts, have a healthy emotional outlet and you have the ability to add something to people’s lives. There’s also the rather nice added benefits of opening up more opportunities for you and even the possibility of getting paid through ‘guest blogging’ gigs (google it)– no brainer!

5. Do your research

Just do it. And do it well. If you haven’t bothered to find out anything about the company you’re applying for, why on earth should they hire you? Make sure you research the position you’re going for and understand the company’s core values (usually found on their homepage).

HINT 1:  Why not look into a recent piece of work or a deal that they’ve done, and form an opinion on it?


HINT 2:  Try and get in touch with someone who works there – you’ll be surprised at how much help some people are willing to offer. Just because the first few people might not respond, sooner or later you’ll find someone willing to give you their time. LinkedIn is great for this – resources like the ‘hack packs’ provided by our friends at Hello Grads offer a great place to start here.

So these are our top tips to help you smash grad life. We’re not accepting ‘I don’t have enough time’ as an excuse – just wait until you’re working 8/9/10 hour days FIVE WHOLE DAYS A WEEK. Make the most of it now while you can. Future you will thank you for it.
George @ The Grad Soc.

Recommended reading:

For Marketers:
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
For Economists:
The Big Four: The Curious Past and Perilous Future of the Global Accounting Monopoly by Ian D. Gow and Stuart Kells
For Lawyers:
The Rule of Law by Tom Bingham For Entrepreneurs: Start with Why by Simon Sinek

George Biddle, contributor

About George & the Grad Soc

George Biddle is a University of Leeds graduate and Founder of The Grad Soc:
The Grad Soc:
A student-led platform which provides role-specific micro-training courses for final year students and recent graduates, helping better prepare them for the world of work. We exist to inspire students to do the things which inspire them. We do this by making opportunities more accessible to everyone. No more long winded applications. No more psychometrics.’