What are employers looking for? What are the things that make you stand out? In this post I discuss how you can perform better both during recruitment and on the job.
Recruitment is one of the biggest things for college students. Everyone wants to stand out
among hundreds of thousands of applicants. Here are some tips you should know to polish your resume,
prepare for the career fair, and ace your interview.
Do you know how much time employers typically spend on a resume? 5 minutes? 2 minutes? 1
minute? No. Too long. According to a study published by The Ladders , an online job search
site, and according to staff at the CCD, employers on average spend about 6 seconds reviewing a resume. Yes. 6 seconds. The figure below shows employers’ eye movements and gazes during a resume review. Notice that the left hand side is a poorly formatted resume, and on the right
side is a professionally rewritten and structured resume. Importantly, notice that employers take some more structured gazes on the right side picture.
So, in a resume, what are employers looking for? Here are a few tips:
1. Format your resume: give it a general structure, so potential employers can better
navigate through your resume, and what you want to highlight have a better chance to
2. Be consistent with your formatting and language.
3. Talk to a PCA at your college and go to the CCD to have a trained professional critique your resume.
Do the research. Do the research. And do the research. This can not be emphasized more.
Employers love students who know about their companies and can ask targeted questions.
Practice your elevator pitch with the CCD staff, and tailor it to different employers. You
can choose to highlight different aspects of your experiences during your introduction.
Remember to send employers a thank you note after meeting them, ideally within 24 hours.
Some traits that employers look for during your interview (of course, not from what you explicitly
state, but from the stories you tell):
2. Ability to work in a team (and the ability to understand the big picture and the team goal)
3. Ability to face challenge and solve difficulties under stress
4. Ability to plan and coordinate
5. Ability to communicate well
6. Knowledge and skills relevant to and/or required for the position
Again, remember to send employers a thank you note after meeting them, ideally within 24 hours.
2. During Work
If you are hired, congratulations!
No matter if you are an intern or an incoming staff/associate, you still have a lack of knowledge
and experience in the job position. At an incoming level, you are likely to receive a lot of tedious
work. You may have long hours compared to your supervisor, or senior coworkers. The best
thing you can do is perform your job well and keep a positive attitude. Remember that you are
guaranteed to gain something from your working experience, although sometimes it takes
time. Moreover, keep in mind that other seniors know exactly what you are doing, and they
will evaluate you or consider giving you a return offer or promotion based on your performance.
The most important thing is to do the tasks assigned to you well and be a dependable
and responsible person.
Here are some more detailed tips:
1. Remember that you are helping your supervisor save time. Keep this in mind when you are given seemingly tedious tasks; there is value in everything.
2. Present to your supervisor or other seniors an outcome (for example, a report) that they
do not have to do further research on. In a word, if you take on a task, do it well.
3. Don’t forget to communicate with senior coworkers from time to time to know what they want the
result to be like. Sometimes you may do things in a wrong direction (even though you do
4. Use the mentoring opportunities that your firm offers. Consult other people. Be
Of course all lists and suggestions here are not exhaustive. However, knowing these would
better prepare you to stand out during the recruitment process and to exceed during your work.
Qianru (Charie) Xiong is a Peer Career Advisor from Sid Richardson College. She is a junior studying sociology and managerial studies.
[Tips without references are summarized based on personal experiences. Some tips may be
similar with what can be found online.]