Years ago, all you needed to be above average in the work force was a college degree.  The fact that you went through a four year program from beginning to end showed that you were something special and it pretty much guaranteed you a job.  Companies were fighting over the college graduates because they wanted the above average people to work for them.  After all, they were building their businesses and wanted the best.

Today, there are more college graduates than ever before and the ratio of graduates to jobs has changed drastically.  We now have a pool of incredibly educated and talented people who are unemployed.  This is a terrible situation but we can see a pattern and we must learn from the pattern.

As we mentioned above, to get a job years ago, you needed a college degree.  The degree didn’t necessarily make you into the perfect candidate for the position you were looking for but it did make you above average because less people went to college.  Today when there are so many people that are college graduates, it no longer sets you apart as above average.  If that’s the case, what can you do that will set you apart from all of your unemployed peers?

Here are some ideas on what you can do to set yourself apart.  This list is far from complete so I would love to hear your ideas in the comments. 

I think what can set you apart from everyone else is to go the extra mile.  Always do more than everyone else that you are competing against.

  • If everyone writes in their cover letter about how they love the industry, you should write what you love about the company.  It may take more time but it will make you stick out.
  • If everyone knows Microsoft Office, find a few more programs that you can use and add them to your skill set.
  • Instead of applying to write for newspapers or website with past articles that you have written, apply with an active blog that is up to date with great content.
  • Instead of telling a company what you can do for them, show them what you can do for them.  When interviewing, don’t just say I have done x before and will do y for you, show them that you have put thought into their company and what their next campaign can look like.
  • Don’t volunteer for a large company just to keep busy.  Find a place that you can work for free that will give you new skills and accomplishments to get you your next job.

Going the extra mile and putting in the extra effort is exactly that, “extra effort”.  An extra effort that we may not have on top of what we are already doing for 15 hours each day.  My suggestion is to cut back on the mediocre work and concentrate on making sure that everything you do is great.

It may be easy to push a button 100 times and have your resume sent to 100 employers but I would suggest narrowing down the employers to a handful at a time and really paying attention to detail and try to blow them away.  Companies don’t know what to do with 100 resumes that look identical but they do know what to do with passion, thought and creativity that shine through.

What else can you do today to be above average? Let me know in the comments what has worked for you or any ideas you have.

Image: Ambro /

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  • Nathan G

    Great to see such healthy numbers in the conversion to permanent positions. There’s a real stigma attached to ‘settling’ for temporary employment, but there’s hope, and statistics proving that it often leads to permanent employment. Even if it doesn’t however, temporary positions still do a great job of filling in potentially large gaps in employment on a CV, which can be a real maker or breaker in searching for a job.

    Great article.


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