With fierce competition for jobs, you’ve got to stand out. Try one — or all — of these ways to come out on top.
You can’t take the same approach to finding employment you would’ve before the economy hit tough times. Several years ago, firms hired more, the job market wasn’t saturated with the unemployed, and prospects looked great for everyone.
Things have certainly changed. The amount of competition means finding a way to stand out from the masses of applicants. Here’s how to do that. (Click here to tweet this list.)
1. Hit the pavement
Show up at offices and inquire about open positions. Even if you don’t meet face-to-face with a hiring manager, you get yourself in front of someone, and that’s likely to make an impression.
If no HR personnel are available, chat up the administrative assistants, letting them know you’re excited about possibly landing a position. Of course, this is an aggressive and time-consuming strategy that should be reserved for the jobs you’re truly excited about.
2. Take your hunt online
Post a video on YouTube called “Why I Want To Work For [Company X]” and send the link to the company’s hiring manager. To get more creative, post an auction-style listing on eBay where you list yourself as the product for sale. Use the description area to highlight your skills and qualifications.
Typical job search websites like CareerBuilder or Monster may work for you, but you’ve got to up your game if you want to rise above the competition.
3. Do your homework
Research the employer’s website and look for information to introduce throughout your interview. These could include recent company achievements, expansion plans, positions that need to be filled, staffing shakeups and new location openings.
Take notes and commit as much to memory as you can before the job interview. This displays your passion to the interviewer, and if you’re able to identify a company need that matches up with your skill set, it might get you across the finish line.
4. Target your resume
Many HR personnel can easily spot cookie-cutter resumes, and if they’re looking at hundreds per day, yours might end up in the circular file. Consider a targeted resume instead.
Be sure your resume includes relevant keywords mentioned in the job description. Adjust your career objectives to include the industry you’re applying in. You may have to tweak your skills and qualifications for each job opening. Don’t forget to target your cover letter in a similar fashion.
5. Follow up creatively
Following up your interview with a phone call is certainly OK, but you won’t stand out by doing that alone. Before you get creative, though, inquire with the hiring manager as to how, or if, you should best follow up. If you’re told not to, hold off.
If following-up is recommended, put your creative chops to use. Send a thank-you note and include a highly sharpened pencil in the envelope. Write “I can be the sharpest pencil in the box.” Or include a small straw and write that you could be the “Straw that stirs the drink,” for the department you’ve applied to.
Moves like these may be risky, but they stand out. Limit your follow-up to two or three phone calls, email messages or notes. If you don’t hear anything back, cross that company off the list and move on. Effectively handling rejection is part of the job search process.
6. Google yourself
Type your first and last name into Google and see what comes up. If it’s all positive information, you’re good to go. For anything less than complimentary, get to work on pushing those results off the first page.
Open up a LinkedIn account and post high-quality articles. Consider starting your own blog or website. You can’t get negative information off the Internet, but you can drown it out with positive notes. If you’re struggling with ways to push certain items off page one on Google, check out the website Reputation.com for assistance.
Hiring companies are likely to see your resume before they see you, so make it count. Unless you’re 100 percent sure you can craft a perfect resume, get it done professionally. Save money by using a freelancer instead of a professional service — just be sure to ask for samples and check references.
Even with the above tactics in your arsenal, if your resume isn’t top-notch, you’re going to have a hard time getting your foot in the door.
What ways can you think of to make yourself stand out from the competition?
John Mosier writes about tips for finding the right job, interviewing, and advancing in your career.