Graduation is almost here. According to Ben Carpenter, it’s time to switch from “college” thinking to “real-world” thinking. If you treat each résumé-and-cover-letter combo the same way you do midterm papers (i.e., write, submit, hope for the best), you’ll spend eons in job-search purgatory.


Carpenter, author of the new book “The Bigs: The Secrets Nobody Tells Students and Young Professionals About How to Find a Great Job, Do a Great Job, Be a Leader, Start a Business, Stay Out of Trouble, and Live a Happy Life” offers tips for finding and keeping a great job including:


Always ask yourself, What’s my edge? What makes you unique and different? Why should other people pay attention to you? What do you have to offer? What gives you an edge over the competition? Be ready and able to articulate your edge at every step of the job-search process: in cover letters, at networking events, and certainly during interviews.


For instance, you could say, “For the past three summers, I worked at one of your company’s retail locations. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the retail location, and I’m grateful for the experience I gained there. I’d like to continue my career at your company, and I feel that my time in your retail stores gave me a unique perspective on how this organization works from the ground up. Plus, I’m already very committed to its mission and values.”


“What’s my edge? is a great question to ask yourself in a multitude of professional scenarios, not just while you’re looking for your first job,” notes Carpenter. “If you’re starting a business, it can help you to define your product or service’s niche. If you’re going after a promotion, it can help differentiate you from your coworkers. In all situations, it will help you define how you can become your personal best.”