You’re a Great Student… But No One Hires Students

You’ve just left your old-school career center with a brand new resume. According to the advice you received, the resume is “perfect”.

You’ve listed your GPA, relevant course work, the class assignments you’re most proud of – and, of course, your well-thought-out objective statement. You can’t lose, right? And yet  after graduation, you can’t get an interview. Yes, the economy is bad. Sure, there is more competition than ever. Yet, some of your buddies and classmates are finding work – while you struggle.

Why? Because your resume – with all the talk about college courses, college projects and your college GPA – makes you look like a “student”. And outside of old-school academia, no one hires a student – they hire young workforce talent, ready to step in now.

The recruiter wants to see how you’re going help to solve their problems. They want to learn about the person you’ve become and the soft skills you’ve obtained. They want to know how you are going to apply the experience you’ve gained to their culture and mission.

If they don’t see all that, and instead see you’re selling a “student” on your resume, they stop reading – and they move on to the next candidate.

To be seen as a top-tier candidate as you enter the workforce, try these proven resume tactics:

Instead of Telling Me Your GPA…

Tell me about the work ethic and perseverance you’ve developed while achieving such high standards. Talk about the leadership roles you’ve taken and those you’ve mentored along the way. Point out that you never feared a little extra effort… the end goal was far more important than momentary distractions. Convince me that your hard work in college will be carried over in the workforce – and that I must hire you.

Instead of an Objective Statement…

Provide me with five to eight bullets outlining your marketable soft skills, such as amazing written and oral communications skills, problem solving experience and your ability to self-learn and self-manage. Talk about your passion and proudest achievements. Most important, talk about how my company’s mission – and your personal goals – are aligned. Make me feel like you already belong here, as a member of my team.

Instead of Relevant Coursework or Assignments…

Outline your volunteer efforts and internships outside the classroom. Show me the initiative you took to master a challenge or selflessly help someone else. If you insist on talking about your favorite class or project, show me exactly how the lessons learned impacted you personally and/or are directly related to the work my company is trying to accomplish. Convince me you’re ready to make the leap from classroom to cubicle.

Instead of Talking About How Good You Are at Learning…

Prove it! In your cover letter, display an in-depth knowledge of my company, the position you’ve applied for and maybe even me, the recruiter, personally. Go to my website and learn everything you can. Visit my company’s social media platforms and learn how we interact with customers and employees. Check out Glassdoor for insight and set up a Google Alert on the company. Ask me two or three really good questions that you couldn’t find the answer to during your studious research. Impress me – with your ability to learn.

Maybe you were/are a great student. So, show me that all those skills apply to my version of the real-world. Prove to me that as an employee of my company you’ll stop at nothing to learn all you need to know about the competition, a challenge or a crisis – all before being told what to do. Show me you’re smart enough to know the difference between classroom learning – and what it takes to thrive in the workforce.

To a recruiter, that is the difference between seeing you as a student – which no one hires… and the young talent I need to snatch up before someone else hires you first.


Mark Babbitt, the CEO and Founder of YouTern, is a serial entrepreneur and mentor and a passionate supporter of Gen Y talent. Mark contributes to, Glassdoor and Business Insider. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter:@YouTernMark.

Related posts:

  1. How Grad Students Should Approach the Job Search
  2. Great Research Sites for Students
  3. 3 Things Students Can Do to Position Themselves to Succeed in a Tough Job Market

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