We all know it is a tough job market out there. Some say it is getting better: according to CNN, jobless claims plunged last week to a nearly 4-year low. The job market and the economy are coming back to life. Remaining positive, though, can be difficult when you are unemployed or underemployed, waiting to take that next big step in your career. While you searching for that new opportunity, you are competing against many, many other candidates. So how do you stand out in the crowd?
Here are some things you can do to stand out in a positive way:
- Submit a thoughtful, well-written cover letter that shows your personality and business acumen by focusing on the employer’s needs and your understanding of current challenges in your field or industry. If your cover letter is bland and uninspiring, it may not be read entirely and your resume may get only a quick glance—or none at all.
- A quality resume can give you an early lead in the competition. If you are stymied and can’t afford professional help, see what the best resume writers in the business do by viewing samples included in books written by career professionals . . . and review your documents very carefully to make sure you haven’t included inadvertent spelling errors.
- Think of your LinkedIn profile as a resource where recruiters and hiring managers can find you. That means you must do more than simply list past employment. Ensure your profile is up to date and fully completed. Include a professional photo, strong summary and achievements. Ask colleagues or clients that know you well to recommend you.
- Be prepared to perform well in an interview. We offer interview coaching to help our clients succeed, but you can also find a list of interview questions online and practice with a friend. Be prepared to answer difficult questions regarding your work history and, just as importantly, show confidence in your ability to perform the job and enthusiasm for the position.
- Step out of your comfort zone. Networking does not come easily for most of us, but when a hiring manager receives a resume from a colleague, you have a much greater of its being seen by a decision maker. You can also request a brief meeting over coffee to introduce yourself to a hiring manager and express your interest in the company. Getting “face time” in this way can make a very favorable impression and help you remain foremost in the hiring manager’s mind . . . ahead of the competition.
Have some other tips that have served you well? I invite you to share them with our readers!