Although the news assures us the economy is recovering, statistics show the job market in 2013 may be every bit as tough as the job market of 2012. With such fierce competition for desirable jobs, what steps can you take to rise above the crowd and get noticed?
Here are some tips that can help:
1. Garner a reputation
Remember in high school, when your extracurricular activities were the key to getting noticed by colleges? The same principle applies here.
Get involved in your community. Volunteer for causes that are meaningful to you. Build a name for yourself and make your face known. Not only could it make a difference at the interview table, but it could create unforeseen networking opportunities down the road.
2. Learn a language
The modern workplace has become ever more diverse and multilingual, and broadening your language skills can only increase your value to a potential employer.
A second (or third) language not only sets you apart from the crowd; it also broadens the scope of where you can work. Learn to speak Spanish or take a course in another language that could be useful in your chosen field. If you already know another language, take the time to brush up while you’re on the job hunt.
3. Get on the Web
A good-looking Facebook profile is a start, but it’s not enough to get you noticed. Create a personal website that highlights your professional life and personality, showcases your unique skills and sells your brand. Just make sure it looks professional and doesn’t contain anything potential employers might find distasteful. (That goes for your Facebook profile and any other social media accounts.)
Even better, create a website specifically for your job search, maybe even targeted directly at the job or employer you want.
4. Add a personal touch
Add a unique and memorable aspect to how you approach each employer. Don’t just email a resume and hope for the best.
Create a complete application package and hand-deliver it, or find appropriate and welcome ways to network with people inside the company you want to work for. As long as you keep it professional and appropriate, a personal touch can go a long way toward getting someone to remember your name in the pile of resumes.
5. Advertise yourself
This is where that website might come in handy. Picking up freelance work or doing projects for family and friends will build your portfolio, even if it doesn’t build your bank account. Word of mouth can travel fast. It’s also a great way to update those skills.
Speaking of which…
6. Update your skill set
Skills can become outdated quickly, especially if you’re in a technical field. To offer something that no one else has, you have to keep those skills sharp. Knowing Word and Excel is a baseline skill now, not something special.
Learn a new programming language, take a course or find and acquire certifications in your area of expertise. The more you have to bring to the table, the better your job prospects will be.
Get involved in networking events, conventions, even online venues like blogs, forums or discussions on Facebook or Google+. Taking time out of your day to show your engagement with the industry will show employers you’re truly passionate and driven. This can be a great first step toward getting hired.
8. Find your niche
Job skills have become ever more fragmented and specific, especially in technical fields. So find something you’re good at and specialize. Look at your job history and ask yourself what you could do that no one else could. A single specialized talent or skill could make all the difference between not getting noticed and getting the job of your dreams.
9. Stand for what you believe in
Employers don’t want people who are apathetic about their work; they want people who are passionate and have strong feelings about their work. When you come to the interview table, let your employers know what matters most to you and how your actions reflect those strong beliefs.
10. Network like crazy
It might seem like obvious advice, but never underestimate the power of good old, reliable networking. Talk to everyone you know. Look for opportunities where it looks like none exist. Some of the best opportunities are those you make for yourself.
Leslie Collins is a long-time writer for Pimsleur Approach. She learned to speak Spanish through the program and enjoys traveling, coffee, discovering new cultures and hikes with her golden retriever.