A few tips to help you stand out
Self-confidence is all about how you sell yourself. That may sound obvious, but when it comes to wrapping up your college education and entering the workforce, that’s where things can get a little complicated.
On one hand, there’s evidence that students aren’t feeling confident enough as they’re preparing for the next step. According to a recent study by Gallup and Strada Education Network, only 34% of college students surveyed said they felt confident they would graduate with the right skills to land a job.
On the other hand, the job market in the United States is stronger than it has been in nearly a decade, according to the Department of Labor. And further studies have found that entry-level jobs in particular have experienced a surge in growth. So the opportunities are there for those who can find them.
What recruiters are looking for
“College recruiting plays a large role in how we think about the growth of the company,” says Gina Pak, university recruiting manager at chat software company Slack. “We bring students on board [who] enrich our culture, embody our values, and [we] empower them to contribute to Slack’s mission. We are building our future leaders.”
That doesn’t mean employers are handing out jobs to college graduates, of course. But that brings us back to that self-confidence part: You will put yourself in the best position to land a job out of college if you walk the walk and talk the talk.
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Standing out from the crowd
“Recruiters review hundreds of applications,” explains Pak. “What is it that makes you stand out from all the candidates for the role?”
One way to stand out and make a great first impression is with a high-quality, professional-looking profile photo. According to a 2016 recruiting survey by Jobvite, 41% of recruiters surveyed said they were influenced by applicants’ photos before even meeting the candidate. That stat alone should be enough to convince you to get professional in a hurry.
How to take professional-quality photos at home
Here are four simple tips to take a professional-quality profile photo, even if you’re not a photography expert:
1. Lighting: Use natural light from a window or shaded area outside.
Most photographers will tell you that inadequate lighting is one of the biggest reasons for horrible photos—so it might be the sole difference between a good photo and a bad one. Don’t skimp here.
2. Composition: Your face should be 60% of the image.
Headshot images are small—LinkedIn, for instance, condenses your photo into a space that’s only 400 by 400 pixels. So if there’s too much background and too little of your face, recruiters aren’t going to see very much of you.
3. No selfies: Get help from a photographer or a friend.
You may think you’ve taken the perfect photo of yourself, but you might not realize that your outstretched arm is slightly distorting your facial muscles. Not a good look. Ask for help!
4. Be authentic: Make sure to relax.
Try smiling with your teeth! A recent study by PhotoFeeler suggests that showing those pearly whites makes you twice as likable as just smiling with a closed mouth.
As Pak says, “Just a simple headshot with a smile will do.”