The Ten-Step Guide to College Financial Aid By Zachary Freeman

Showing Your ‘Hireability’

                Finding something that sets you apart from others may be difficult for you, as it was for me.  I always thought of myself as a pretty plain individual, not really possessing any unique attributes.  After all, I can’t fly, I don’t have x-ray vision, and I can’t scale buildings – who would want to give me free money?  Finding myself a little depressed, I did some digging and I discovered that professional adults really just want to see qualities that they possess themselves: hard-work, character, and class. 

                As it turns out, people who think that they are nothing extraordinary are more common than you think.  As a matter of fact, showing personality in an application or an interview is the best thing that you can do to make yourself look like a front-runner.  I talk about this fairly extensively in my book; whether in an interview, in an application, in your writing, whatever it is, people want to see that you have spunk, character, and are beginning to understand what professionalism is.    

                When considering your responses on your scholarship and college application essays, ask yourself this simple question:  If I was trying to get a job from these people, would my answer improve my chances?  You have to think about the specifics of the group to which you are writing.  For example, if you were applying for a scholarship through a bank, you would want to show them qualities that pertain to their business – character, good management skills, and people skills.  If you were asking for a grant from the Coca-Cola Company, think about the qualities that they admire: philanthropy, hard-work, and ethics.  

                Lastly, I know that in high school, sucking up is frowned upon, but let me just say this: people like to know that their hard work is noticed, they like to feel like they are doing a good job, and when you tell them this, they will automatically gain a new level of respect for you.  Don’t consider it sucking up, consider it playing an angle to get noticed by their organization.  There is nothing wrong with complimenting someone on their efforts to improve the lives of others.  I have coined a new phrase, somewhat different from the original:

 “If you don’t have anything nice to say, find something nice to say, and then say it again.”


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