Dear Harlan: I am a first-year college student who had a really hard time finding a job. It took forever to find a place that would hire me. I applied everywhere I could think of, but would rarely get a call back. My parents gave me a hard time about it, so it was very frustrating. Everywhere I interviewed they claimed they wanted “someone with experience.” But how am I supposed to gain experience if no one will give me a chance? Many of my new college friends also have been scouting for jobs and are facing the same problems I did. Do you have any advice on how to stand out from others when interviewing for jobs?
— Searching to Stand Out
Dear Searching: Be early, look nice and always be curious. This will separate you from other people interviewing for a job. Getting there early shows that you care enough to make the effort and that you pride yourself on showing up on time. Looking nice shows that you care enough to represent yourself in the best light. This means you can represent the business in the best light, too. Being curious means you want to learn. It shows that you are less interested in winning someone over and more interested in seeing how you can add value. When it comes to the challenge of getting experience, talk to people doing the jobs you want. You’ll discover that while experience matters, aligning yourself with the right people and building relationships with them over time matters more.