Note: This post originally appeared on Weber Shandwick’s Social Studies blog.

It’s a war out there. Take a look at any open jobs board and you will see just how steep the competition is for top talent. At the same time, there’s a boom in people who want to work in digital.

Unfortunately, while the candidate pool is large, finding talent with a strong understanding of digital communications and strategy, especially for a more junior role, often proves to be a challenge. Sifting through poorly organized résumés, boring writing samples, and mildly creative portfolios can be a huge drag. So how can those seeking work in digital stand out from the crowd?

Digital is a rapidly evolving industry and standards are high. Candidates from traditional backgrounds struggle to shine alongside others who have a potent mix of entrepreneurial experience and creative chops. You’re up against the self-starter who transformed her school’s PRSSA chapter into a functioning agency, the graphic design major who led a small startup company as an “internship,” and the sorority member who doubled the group’s fundraising by moving into digital.

So how can you catch the eye of digital recruiters? Here are a few pointers.

Show imagination. In the sea of boring black and white resumes, candidates who use imagination by incorporating color, a logo, or even an infographic will immediately stand out. Your résumé is where you make your first impression – and your chance to show that your personality will fit with a digitally creative culture. Such an approach will show that you understand the importance of marketing yourself as you would any brand.

Experience beats GPA. An A+ in the History of Communications does not outweigh understanding how to use Radian6. College is an investment and grades are a parent’s ROI. But students who remember the end goal is finding a career will successfully juggle a full course load and multiple internships. Show that you’re motivated and have accumulated enough experience to handle more than one task at a time.

Focus on the “how well.” Make sure you can communicate “how well” you’ve managed your past experiences. Every intern will be assigned the same tasks like writing and research. You want to show exactly how well you executed those tasks and how successful you were. Did your research offer insights that led to winning new business? Were you able to tie your work to underlying business objectives? Measure the heck out of everything you do, and put those numbers front and center.

Show that social media is something you use strategically and as part of your daily life. Be able to extrapolate your personal experience in digital to how organizations should be using it. Beyond listing your LinkedIn, Facebook, and/or Twitter profiles in your contact information, also be able to demonstrate that you’re au fait with the likes of Tumblr, WordPress, Pinterest, and Google+.

Realize that “people person” isn’t a differentiator. If the best explanation you can come up with for why you would make a good addition to a digital team is, “I’m a people person, I just love people,” you may be in the wrong business. Period. This answer screams lack of creativity and understanding of what happens in digital communications.

Position your varied experience as a feature, not a bug. Traveling the world shows a natural curiosity that lends well to trying new things and experimenting in digital. If you’ve tried multiple industry internships, don’t assume these will be seen as a sign of indecision; demonstrate how they exemplify your explorer mentality and commitment to trying new things during a low-risk time of your life (few people have to worry about feeding kids during and right after college). Show how your exploration has helped you develop confidence and skills that are transferable to other assignments.

Good luck in your search, and make sure you check out Weber Shandwick Digital’s career opportunities if you’ve got what it takes to go big in the industry!

Image by Dani Law, licensed under Creative Commons

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