The competition for good jobs is fierce. With dozens, and often hundreds of applicants submitting their resumes for a specific job opening, you MUST set yourself apart from all the other candidates who have similar qualifications. The secret to differentiation in job search is communicating your potential to deliver results. By relating your past accomplishments and contributions to the needs, problems, and objectives of the potential employer, you will be perceived as a problem solver. Your successes are unique to you. No one has the exact same story as you.
Consider effective strategies for using job search tools to set yourself apart:
Your letter of introduction can be a very persuasive document by personalizing it for each job application. Generic cover letters are a waste of time and do not represent a serious candidate to the prospective employer. They imply laziness, lack of initiative, and lack of concern for the employer.
Five tips to make your cover letter stand out:
Your resume is a marketing piece designed to sell your best and relevant professional capabilities. Its appearance, content, grammar/spelling, organization, and completeness will be judged by the reader. How do you want to be perceived by the employer? It’s your first impression, make it a good one.
Five tips to make your resume stand out:
The more people that know what type of job you are looking for increases your chances of being found. Tell everyone in your personal and professional network specifically what you would like to do in your next job. Be clear about what you have to offer an organization.
Five tips for networking that will make you stand out:
Being prepared for the interview is a huge advantage. So many candidates wing it and fall flat. It’s amazing how many people go into an interview and barely know anything about the company. They think they understand the job description but don’t have a clue about the problems the company needs to solve.
Five tips for standing out in an interview:
Bottom line: When employers are aware of your value, they pay attention. But they are not going to do the digging. You must present your strengths, abilities, and success stories clearly and concisely. Employers are looking for that special candidate, the one that is not packaged exactly like the majority of applicants. Your differentiation is your promise of value, it’s what makes you unique, and makes you stand out. So make it obvious, make it relevant, and make it your signature across all platforms you play on.
Before submitting your application or resume, be sure to research the Company. It is very easy to obtain information from various internet sites about a company’s products and services, their customers and competition, and even their company culture. Research will help you understand the challenges of the company and better prepare you to position yourself as their ideal candidate.
What is their business about and how do they differentiate themselves in their market? The company's website will usually be the best resource for deciphering their business purpose and help you decide if joining the organization looks interesting to you. Let’s face it, if you can’t identify with a businesses’ offerings, it will be hard to sell yourself in an interview.
Identifying and researching the CEO, HR Manager, and Department Managers can give you clear insight to the company’s management style and values. Company websites frequently list names of upper management employees, and sometimes provide professional Bio’s. LinkedIn may provide more in-depth information about individuals.
Read up on the company’s latest news to find out what they have done recently and what they are planning for the future. Company websites, press releases, Twitter feeds, and blogs are a great sources for learning their marketing strategies and accomplishments.
Why waste your time (and theirs) applying for a job unless you know the organization is a good fit for you. Best to learn about their mission and values to determine if you can identify with and support the organization’s core principles. Job posts often include soft skills requirements which may imply specific company values. Check their website for a corporate mission statement for a definitive view.
The more you know about the hiring manager, the better you will be able to prepare for the interview. A well written job post will give you plenty of clues to determine the problems the organization wants to solve by hiring a qualified candidate. Identifying with the exact problems and providing interview answers that are relevant is an excellent interview strategy. The Hiring manager has a lot at stake in the hiring process and will choose the candidate who proves the capabilities, energy, and enthusiasm for solving problems.
In addition to the company website, check out some of these excellent resources to obtain information on prospective employers and their key employees:
Indeed.com, Craigslist, Monster, and dozens other online jobs listings websites (job boards) make it very convenient to search for job announcements and blast your resume. How effective is this strategy?
Here is a reality check…the competition is off the charts! Why? Because EVERYBODY does it!
How do you feel about getting (VERY) limited response to your online job applications?
How do you feel about getting called for jobs that are not that interesting, but you applied anyway?
A better strategy for benefiting from the convenient online job boards is to use them for research. Find out who is advertising and what they say they want. Does it align with what you want? Do you have what they say they want? If it seems like a good match and captures your interest for a career opportunity, wait, don’t apply….yet.
Next, check your network to determine if there is a link. Do you know someone who knows someone at the organization who can give you a referral? If you do, fantastic. Get the referral and apply with your highly targeted resume. Make it easy for the hiring manager to confirm your qualifications match the job spec. Not only do you want to impress the hiring manager, you also want to validate your referral.
If you can’t get a referral, don’t give up. It just means you need a different strategy. Your best bet is to get your resume into the hands of the person who is the likely supervisor for the intended position. More research may be necessary but it’s not hard. You have options. Check the company website for staff listings, or try LinkedIn. Or, call the company directly and get the name of the hiring manager.
Apply as directly as possible. Your strategy is to get a leg up on the dozens or hundreds of online job applications submitted for every job post! Make sure your resume and cover letter are targeted to the job announcement and the company’s culture so the hiring manager gets you at “Hello”!
Job boards can be a useful tool, but don't waste all your time applying online. Make networking, referrals, and applying direct the top priorities in your job search campaign.
Prepared, Practiced and Positive!
Nail the 3 “P’s” and you will be on the right track. Let’s break it down:
• Know your résumé backwards and forwards
• Have sufficient copies of current resume and references.
• Be on time, professionally dressed and groomed.
• Have good questions that demonstrate your concern for their needs.
• Informed salary considerations in case it comes up.
• Elevator Pitch: ‘Tell me about yourself’ as it relates to the employer’s needs!
• Know your top 5 accomplishment stories and tell them contextually, concisely and confidently.
• Know how you will answer the most common interview questions.
• You are prequalified or you wouldn’t be here. Now is the time to show your personality, energy, enthusiasm.
• Connect with the interviewer.
• Observe the culture, and ask them: ‘how do people work together here?’
• If this is the job for you, let them know!
• Be grateful.