Career Luck Project: College Degree Won't Get You Hired Without This

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Welcome to the "AOL Career Luck Project." Inspired by you, our readers, this new weekly series offers practical advice by showcasing real-life examples of career makeovers. Learn to create your own career luck using the tips and techniques given to project participants. Every Thursday.

Meet Shaylean, A Graduate Student Working Hard on A Job Search, But Coming Up Short

Shaylean is graduating this spring with a Master's in Mechanical Engineering. He has applied to numerous positions (he estimates close to 500), but has had just four interviews and not a single job offer. Shaylean has some hurdles to getting hired. First, he is competing against thousands of other students and graduates with equally impressive skills. Second, he is a foreign student and while his visa will enable him to work for 27 months upon graduation, after that, he'll need the employer to sponsor him to stay.

To sum it up, Shaylean is going to have to really prove he is the best possible candidate for the job if he wants an employer to invest in hiring him.

How Do You Differentiate Yourself When Your Credentials Are the Same As Everyone Else's?

What's missing from Shaylean's job search is a focus on matching his professional passion to the problems employers need solved. When a job seeker can express how they feel connected to the employer''s business mission, they will stand out as someone who understands what the employer needs from employees.

Watch this video to see how J.T. advises Shaylean to leverage his passion to get employers to hire him:

College Degree Won&#39;t Get You Hired Without This
College Degree Won't Get You Hired Without This

It's All About Proving You Belong in Their Corporate Tribe

Employers have a lot of candidates to choose from. Which means, they must discriminate in order to make a final selection. This gets far more challenging when there are so many candidates that seem exactly alike. For example, how do you choose one graduate over another when they all have the same degree and GPA? The reality is employers ultimately choose based on "personality" and "aptitude" as a way to break the tie and select a final candidate from a pool of talent with the same degrees and experience. The best way to stand out and show the best side of your personality and aptitude is to share your passion for for what the company does and why it does it. When you can express in detail how you have come to recognize their products or services are valuable and needed, you prove you are part of their tribe. You showcase the part of you that is a natural fit for their environment. Ask any hiring manager and they will tell you: hiring a person who is passionate about what the company does virtually guarantees the employee will be highly productive and successful. Plus, passion goes hand-in-hand with positivity - which is a very attractive personality trait.

Shaylean Has a Passion for Building Automobiles - His Stories Prove It!

If you watch the video with Shaylean, you'll see how he comes to life when he talks about his passion for designing automobiles. The energy he conveys is infectious. You can't help but believe he would be an asset to any automobile team looking to find a better way to build a car. This is the "secret sauce" Shaylean needs to share in his interviews as a way to stand out and show employers he is the best person for the job. He can use this same passion to tailor his cover letters, resume and even his LinkedIn profile so automobile companies can see he is branding himself as someone who is in alignment with his industry so he can attract the attention of recruiters.

Once Shaylean focuses his passion and customizes his job search, he can proactively target the employers that appreciate his passion. This is what it will take to get noticed and hired above all of his peers. A degree is not enough! It's a clear passion for what the employer does that really gets their attention.

Want to be considered for a makeover in the AOL Career Luck Project? Send an email with your story, resume and LinkedIn profile to Use the words "AOL Career Luck" in the subject line.