Graduate Competition – How to Stand out From the Crowd

You already know how competitive it is to bag a graduate job. Everyone talks about it. And with good reason.

Graduate jobs tend to start on a higher wage and propel your career in the right direction. Scoring one is the reward for all your hard work at uni. But in this generation, experience is as valuable as qualifications. How do you stand out when everyone in the room has a degree?

We’ve put together our top three tips to help you stand out from the very dense crowd of graduate hopefuls…

1. Hone your graduate CV

We’re not going to patronise you with pointers like spellcheck, layout and tailoring. But we will say this: add more meat to the content of your CV. It’s time to level up.

There are several free sites that can help you upskill (our favourites are Codeacademy, Linkedin Learning and Udemy). Where you may not get a certificate, it will show your motivation to improve. Employers love that, and it will make you shine brighter than the rest.

According to Giveagradago.com, some of the most sought-after skills in 2019 are:

  • Coding/programming (there’s a surprise)
  • Digital
  • Creative / design
  • Reporting / analytics
  • Videography
  • Public speaking
  • Foreign language

2. Practice your interview skills

We know, EVERYONE says this. But in the spirit of making you stand out, think of it this way: you will probably be interviewed at least twice by management for a graduate role. They’ve heard all possible responses to that all-important ‘so what makes you different from the other candidates?’ question, so how do you tackle answering it?

With this question, potential employers are giving you an opportunity to shine. They want to hear about you, your skills and experience.

The trick to answering this is to promote your strengths and qualities without coming across as cocky.

  • Think about the skills the job requires
  • How does your degree and experience translate to this?
  • What can you bring to the job that someone else might not?

Practise your answer until it’s muscle memory and then dazzle them like a boss.

3. Brace yourself for Assessment Day

Aptitude tests and assessments can be intimidating. But the advantage is that you know they’re coming, so prepare.

Graduatesfirst.com provides free testing for numerical and aptitude tests. Having the chance to practise will help you to stay calm on the day and focus on the task at hand.

You’ll probably have to take part in a group exercise to see how you engage and work with a team to achieve a shared goal. Being face-to-face with the competition can seem overwhelming. So, here are some tips to help you stand out from the crowd:

Be assertive, not aggressive. This can be a difficult ask in a high-stress situation and some candidates may get carried away. Be confident, but don’t try to dominate. And use people’s names often. This will soften questions that might otherwise come across as abrupt and help you charm the group.

Show initiative early in the task. Leadership is a stand-out skill and one that all graduate employers are looking for. A good tip is to offer to be a note-taker or time-keeper for the task. This allows you to be a central player and marks you out as a figure of authority.

Be a team player. Try and involve everyone in the group and bring them into the conversation. If someone is struggling to express themselves, ask them their opinion. Interpersonal skills and group management are high on the employability priority list. Showing you can motivate others and improve their performance is an edge that will make you memorable.

Negativity no-no. Under no circumstances should you scold anyone or criticise them (this includes passive-aggressive comments, people!). It will reflect poorly on you if you create negativity in the group.

Finally, you may not achieve the first graduate role you apply for, but keep going. Finding that perfect fit can take time, but try to improve your performance as you go along. Always look to send a ‘thank you’ to the employer and ask for feedback.

Best of luck!