According to recent statistics put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 9.5% of all Americans are unemployed and looking for jobs. Add those who are looking for promotions or are simply exploring change, and it's probable that the jobs you apply for will be highly sought after.
How do you gain a competitive edge and stand out among other applicants? Follow these 14 tips:
1. Customize your resume for every job
Your resume must clearly outline how your skills, experience, and
accomplishments will fit the needs of that particular employer.
When faced with hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of resumes,
hiring departments need a clearly defined reason to bring you in for an
2. Be specific
Write a cover letter that is specific to the company and the position you are applying for.
It sounds like a no-brainer, and it is, but many, many
organizations see generic, one-size-fits-all letters from harried job
3. Do your homework
Learn everything you can about the company before your interview. Devour the organization's website, Google it, and read any press you can on company happenings.
That way you'll be able to go into the interview and tell them how you can provide solutions to their particular problems.
4. Know what you offer
Know exactly what your skills and experience are, as well as
how they pertain to the particular job you are interviewing for.
Explain how you, in particular, will be a perfect match for the company's needs.
5. Memorize your speech
Develop a 30-second "elevator speech" about your "soft skills."
These important skills include brainstorming, forecasting, critical
thinking, and problem solving.
Showing evidence of these skills can often put you above people who have more experience and education.
6. Build a critical skill
Focus on a skill that's in demand for the type of organizations and jobs you are applying for, and master it.
7. Build your social network profiles
Create and maintain a profile on LinkedIn, as well as on
sites such as Twitter and Facebook. These sites give you exposure, and
make it easy for employers to contact you.
Be sure that your pages focus on your professional, and not your personal, life.
Build your network by asking people you know to join, then branch out by asking for referrals and introductions.
8. Be an expert
Blog about your expertise online, write articles and ebooks, and produce podcasts and webinars. Show what you know.
9. Build an online presence
Register your name, or a variation if it isn't available, as a URL. Use
this website as an enhancement to your resume. Include projects you
have worked on, photographs, articles and ebooks you've written, and
Sign up to help out a couple hours a week, whether it’s in
your field or in an area that allows you to use the skills and
experience needed in your field.
Not only does this show that you are the type of person who
gives back, it also shows that you are passionate about what you do.
11. Keep in touch
Don't stop at the thank-you note after your interview. Don't
even stop after the job has been awarded to someone else.
Ask if you can keep in touch with the person who interviewed
you, then touch base every month or so to see if additional
opportunities are available. Sometimes it takes two or three tries to
land a job.
12. Optimize keywords
Make sure you have effective keywords in your resume if it
appears anywhere online, such as on LinkedIn, on online job boards, or
on your own website.
Recruiters, organizations, and hiring managers do
search the web for resumes when looking for the right candidate. Be
sure you are easy to find by using the right words and phrases.
13. Connect with contacts
Do you know people at organizations where you would like to work? Touch base and ask them to advocate for you.
Having someone in your corner not only helps you get your foot in the door, it can help you land the job.
Most people enter the job search stressed and nervous, which makes it difficult for them to put their best foot forward.
Be yourself and be relaxed, and you'll be sure to stand out!
Get Noticed and Get the Job
No doubt, today's job market is competitive. But with the right strategies and tactics, you can stand out in a sea of applicants.