Knock Out the Competition in 5 Easy Steps

Published on February 19, 2014 by arothstein

BVU_competition_is_fierceAfter submitting your resume to countless employers and applying to dozens of jobs, you may wonder why you’re not getting the response you’d hoped. It’s important to know how to get an advantage over your competition, but how do you do this? Follow these five job search strategies and you’ll be knocking out the competition in no time.

Customize Your Career Search Materials

If you’ve ever had to apply for a job, you understand the importance a resume. It’s the first thing the hiring manager will see, and is the gateway between you and the interview, which is why it’s more important than ever that you align your experience and achievements with the job requirements. Teresa Obinger, director of career services for Globe Education Network says that the best way to assure your resume is targeted for the position is to use keywords or phrases from the job description in your resume or application. “If they’re looking for someone with experience with a certain type of software, list that software and how many years of experience you have with it.” Customizing your resume with the appropriate keywords and phrases will also help in getting past the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which recruiters use to scan the hundreds and thousands of resumes they receive. If you fail to customize your resume to the position, you run the risk of your resume ever been seen by a human eye.

Build Your Personal Brand

Your resume is one of the many variables that go into building your personal brand. Your brand should illuminate the value you offer whether it’s on paper, online or in person. You may be asking how you can build your brand if you have little to no experience. Professional networking sites like LinkedIn make it possible for individuals with little work experience to build their brand through sharing industry specific resources and engaging with decision makers. Additionally, “A detailed online profile gives you the opportunity to list all your skills and what you have to offer as a whole, rather than just a few depending on the job you are applying for,” Obinger says.

Network with the Right People

You can have all the talent in the world, but unless you’re networking with the right people, you’ll be the only one who knows just how great you really are. There are a variety of networking activities that can help you share the value you offer. For new grads or individuals transitioning careers, Obinger says conducting informational interviews with professionals in the industry will give you the opportunity to learn more about their companies and what they do. If you don’t know where to start, she suggests sending one of your connections on LinkedIn an invitation to meet for coffee. This allows you to introduce yourself and sell your value in a more casual, non-threatening setting. “Chatting with someone over coffee or at a career fair will give you that self-confidence you will eventually need in an interview,” says Obinger.

Use the Hidden Job Market

Experts say that over half of job openings are not posted online. Employers will look for internal hires and employee referrals before posting a job on the job boards. You may be asking yourself how you can get in front of these employers. It takes the proactive approach of directly contacting the decision makers of the companies you hope to work for through a variety of channels such as LinkedIn, email and snail mail. The key here is that instead of waiting for a job to open up to send in your resume, you reach out to share how your experience and background aligns perfectly with their company mission, values and future goals. If you’re new to the field, another great direct contact channel is through internships. This will also allow you to rub elbows with decision makers while showcasing the value you offer the employer.

Tailor Your Interview

You’ve landed an interview and you’re one step closer to getting the job, but how do you make sure you nail it? Obinger recommends you do your research, not only on the company itself, but on the competitors, and make sure you come prepared with specific questions to ask. Above all, she stresses the importance of being you. “Show your personality. Tell them why you’re interested in working for them and why you want the job,” Obinger says. “In the end, you could have the best resume in the world, but they’re going to hire someone who also shows energy and enthusiasm for the position.”

There is no doubt the competition in the job market is fierce, but if you customize your career search, network and market yourself the right way, you’ll be sure to stand out and land your dream job!


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