Many times students will ask me how they can stand out from the crowd with regard to their resumes or during the interview process. Some of them will come in with their own ideas such as using a colored font on pastel colored resume paper. Or others will want to dress differently from the standard norm for the position. My response to these students is that, yes, they will stand out, but for the wrong reasons. Certainly, you want employers to notice you, but not in a way that gets you negative attention.
So how DO you stand out? With regard to your resume, make sure you utilize every inch of that 8 1/2" by 11" sheet of paper to your best advantage. Think of it as an advertisement of your skills and qualifications. How can you best use that space to target the position and entice the employer to want to buy your product? Make every word count and make sure everything on your resume is supporting your case as to why you are a good candidate for the position. The most successful students are the ones who are constantly tweaking their resume until they get it just right and adjusting it for each position.
And how do you stand out during the interview? By being as prepared as you can! Write down your answers to the standard interview questions and remember the key bullet points that you want to say during the interview. But don't memorize them word for word! Interviewers can easily tell when students have memorized every word of their answers because they sound like monologues, and the student's true personality doesn't show through because he/she is so worried about "getting their lines right."
Practice saying your answers out loud with roommates and friends or in front of the mirror. The more you say them, the more at ease you will be and the more confident you will be in delivering them. Conduct mock interviews with counselors at your career center who will give your constructive criticism for perfecting your interview technique. Most of all, let your personality shine through! Sure, interviewers are looking for candidates with product knowledge but are also looking for someone who they would enjoy working with, who would be a good addition to the team. One way to start your interview on a good note is to say something in the "Tell me about yourself" answer that you are passionate or confident about. By doing this, your enthusiasm will naturally come through, which is a wonderful way to start off the interview and set the tone for the remainder of the interview.