The market for job seekers is highly competitive; a quick look at the unemployment rate can confirm that. With fewer jobs available to more people, employers seem to have the upper hand.
Faced with a tough job market, there are ways that you (and your excellent skillset) can get noticed by employers. It is necessary to get rise to the top of the list, and here are some ways to be one of those captivating candidates.
- Use Your Networking Skills
First, know that your resume will be part placed in a large pool of potential candidates. Making your qualifications stand out takes a little finesse; a personal recommendation from a current employee wouldn’t hurt, either. Take your network of contacts and mine them for employment gold. A variety of professional contacts is the best way to get a foot in the door, especially when you’re unemployed.
- More Steak than Sizzle in Your Resume
Style is great, but don’t choose flash over substance. Employers are increasingly using computer programs to seek resume keywords. In those cases, how you say it will mean nothing compared to what you say. Style may still be helpful, especially if you apply to smaller companies.
Consider the words in the posted job description, if they are applicable to you, use those words in your résumé. This approach will deliver a “brand new” resume tailored to the job you want. Be honest and truthful; don’t just add false keywords because it might get a résumé noticed.
- Active Words Speak Louder
Talk about responsibilities, not titles. Be specific in descriptions of what you accomplished in earlier jobs. Saying a position was “Manager” simply will not cut it anymore, but outlining efforts to increase the bottom line will clearly explain your value to a company in the future.
- Don’t Forget Unique Skills
Of course you meet the minimum requirements; you wouldn’t have applied if you didn’t! At a minimum, your résumé has reflected a basic competency for the posted job.
To get your name to the top of the pile, you must have something the other candidates lack. Highlight a few skills that are unique, something the regular applicant would not consider.
Do you love to write? Have you had an article published, or maintained a personal blog? A running journal of job search experiences could get you noticed by a hiring manager. With any online work, provide links on your résumé.
- Use Social Media as a Target Strategy
To stand out from the crowd, you have to learn to be a savvy self-promoter.
Social media are the ideal platform for calling attention to imagination and initiative. If a prospective employer has a Facebook or LinkedIn presence (and who doesn’t?), consider placing an ad; they are reasonable and can be targeted to any audience or a single business users list as their workplace. Only those people who work there will see it. Since you are charged for each click, remember to keep a low daily budget.
- Don’t Tell, Show!
Are you a graphic designer? Then create something extraordinary, as a showcase for your skills! Selling yourself as a computer expert? Write a great app as your calling card. With work, talent and a little luck, your project may go viral, and interested employers will start calling you!
- Don’t Forget The Basics.
Yes, an impressive resume and dynamic online presence go a long way toward helping you stand out from the pack, but classic, old school moves still have merits. Upper management may be a generation (or so) removed from the current crop of up-and-comers, so a personal touch may put you over the top.
Hand-written thank you notes make an impact, and a résumé sent by “snail mail” may be quaint enough to prove a second look; anything to show that the candidate has invested a little more time than a few mouse clicks.
Be warned, though; old school tricks may not work in every case. If the position calls for email submissions only, a long, cursive letter will not do.
No matter how you apply, the best rule to follow —if the organization lists detailed application directions, stick to them! You should never stand out for the wrong reasons.
However, when there is no explicit procedure, then be creative and go for it!
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