The Other 5%

It’s a scary moment when you see light at the end of a tunnel and realize it’s a train coming the other direction. Often, that is the visual that comes to mind as you wrap up your college education and begin the adventure of finding your first post-graduate job. The safety net of higher education is swept from under you as you enter the “World of Work” along everyone else who is graduating. And that number is quite impressive. National Center for Education Statistics approximately 1.8 million students will graduate with a bachelor’s degree and another 700,000+ with a master’s degree. That’s an ocean of competition for that first job. 

So, how do you stand out from the 2.5 million other candidates? I believe it comes down to a mere 5% difference between you and every other candidate looking for their first “career home”.  Hopefully, your curiosity is peaked and you’re saying to yourself, “What is the other 5% and how do I make it work for me?” 

First, lets get what it isn’t out of the way. It isn’t:

1.    A great resume – by now career services and your advisor should have your resume getting you through the first cut. If it isn’t, make an appointment with them ASAP.

2.    A sparkling personality – Yes, you need this, but it should be part of the first 95%.

3.    A career focused wardrobe – don’t walk out the door until you are dressed for success. Again first 95%

4.    Great references – You got it. First 95%

I think you get the idea, right? So, what is it Dana? Give us the secret sauce already!! Ok, Ok. It’s 2 things. 2 things that will set you apart and open up opportunities that others will miss.

First and foremost; before your interview call the company and ask them to send you a list of their Core Values. (They are probably on the webpage, too.) Then don’t just read them, digest them. Ask yourself “Why are these Core Values so important to this company that they are willing to put them to print?” Then ask yourself another question. “Can I demonstrate these Core Values most of the time every day to my boss, teammates, and clients?” If the answer is YES, prepare yourself to tell your interviewer not only that you can, but how you will do it. If you can’t, move along, because your time will be short and not bear much fruit.

NOTE: If a company doesn’t have Core Values they can share, think hard about how valuable that first job will be to your career long term.

Second, and this is the ultimate game changer, do your homework and understand who the company’s clients are. Then be prepared to explain to your interviewer(s) how your care. Compassion, and professionalism do more than just make customers happy, you will turn them into raving fans.

Hey, I hope you find reaching The Other 5% challenging and fulfilling. Please let me know how it works for you and what obstacles are in your way.


Dana Seiler

Leading By Design