How to be more competitive at Berkeley!

grouppeople1If you’re a new transfer, a baby face freshman, or are only recently becoming involved in the Berkeley recruiting process, then chances are you might still be learning how to deal with the competitive nature of everything at Cal.  If you’re at Haas, you’ve likely seen anywhere from 10 to 100+ people apply for a single open position on a committee, decal, scholarships, or really anything that was worthwhile.

Now some prospective students out there might be wondering “But wait, if you’re at Haas doesn’t that make you BAMF certified?” While I do keep my BAMF card on my person at all times, it doesn’t carry as much weight when everyone else has one too. So in a world where everyone around you is the cream of the crop, how do you stand out as an individual? Well you could hire a professional that would charge you $300 an hour, just for them to tell you “be unique” or “just be yourself.” Being yourself is universally accepted as some of the best advice you’ll ever receive, but then the challenge becomes how do you convey “yourself” as someone who is both a unique individual and someone who is worthy of a second resume glance.

That’s a lot of questions to tackle before you have to get back to your midterm studying. But before we get started its important to note that while these tips may not solve all your problems, they will at least give you some insight into what the competition is doing and how you can better market yourself in the future.

1.Tell a powerful story

Something that I learned at pre-core this summer that seemed to be pretty obvious, but never really sunk in as something that I should actively prepare for was having a powerful story to back up a claimed interest or resume bullet point. For example, if someone asked you why you were interested in finance you would probably want to have something more than just “I like money” you might get a chuckle if they’ve seen Idiocrasy, but even then you’d be taking a risk. At the same time, you don’t want to open with a cliché like “Ive been interested in business ever since I started my first lemonade stand at 10 years old” even if it’s true, it’s just not a very powerful story. What you should be doing is utilizing the STAR method! Situation: What was the problem? Task: What had to get done? Action: What did you do? Result: What happened? Preparing your answer ahead of time and delivering it with this method will allow you to tell your story in the most structured and organized fashion!

2.Develop your personal brand

If you’ve ever talked to Tai Tran then chances are you know how important your personal brand is, for those of you who have been skipping his coffee chats, your personal brand is essentially the cloud version of your elevator pitch. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, puts it like this “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” So when you and others think about you as a business professional what kinds of things come to mind? A quick example would be “Mike Sauce? He’s a third year business major, Marine Corps veteran, and an all-around good guy” but as awesome as that guy sounds, your personal brand is going to need more substance than simply claiming to be a good person. Earlier this month I was at a Deloitte info session where one of the recruiters put it simply as “It’s not enough to just say you’re punctual, you have to actually be punctual” meaning that if you want punctuality to be a part of your personal brand then you need to exemplify that it actually does matter to you.


You might find this surprising, but a single resume will not be able to capture all of the different qualities that recruiters are looking for, and neither will it capture all of the relevant skills that you could contribute to a specific role. At the very least you need to target your resume and Personal Brand to a specific industry, if not for the specific role. This way only your most relevant and significant experience will be brought to the table. Now some of our younger readers might be asking “But I only had a part time job in high school, how do I use that to target a specific industry?” Well Laszlo Bock, a senior advisor at Google wants to help YOU, and he’s offered this formula to help you improve: Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z]. The goal is to put your impacts at the front so that even if recruiters skim through your resume they can still see your biggest contributions. At the same time, you want to relate it to the job description or any other information about the job as closely as you can!

There are of course hundreds of other tips we could go over and even the ones here are just a brief overview, but you get what you pay for. If you’re still interested in learning about how to become more competitive, then I would strongly recommend going to the career center. The services and events they hold would literally cost you hundreds of dollars in the private sector, and unlike the private coaches and businesses who do what they do to make money, the people at Cal’s Career Center are extremely friendly and genuinely want to help you succeed.

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