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10 Ways to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

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Are you trying to take the ‘next step’ in your career and finding that you’re just not getting interviews for the positions you are applying for? Or maybe you’re just starting out, desperately seeking that elusive first break in your chosen field?

It sounds like you might be experiencing a competitive job market. This can be incredibly frustrating. But don’t despair; there are a number of constructive steps you can take to steal a lead on the competition.

Know your strengths

Think of job-hunting as an exercise in selling yourself. Make a list of the things that you can demonstrate you’re good at and put them high up on your resume. Include links to evidence of when and how you delivered on the skills you are highlighting.

Create a strong online profile

This will ensure that employers looking for people with your skills and experience will find you in their searches. Investigate ways to maximise your professional online footprint using job search sites like Profilr, as well as social media sites like Twitter.

It’s who you know

Online and in person networking is an important tool, especially when jobs are scarce and positions may not be advertised widely. Join online groups associated with your field of interest and find out if there are any informal social gatherings of like-minded individuals that might help you hear about vacant positions. Go to networking events, dress up as if you are going to an interview, and take business cards to hand out to the people you meet. If you meet anyone interesting, follow up with a friendly email or connect with them on social media, so that you can maintain contact with them.

Informational interviews

Once you have some contacts in your desired field, if you’re still struggling to gain an interview, try organising an informational interview with someone working in the industry. It might be someone you know, a friend of a friend, a colleague of an ex-colleague, or even someone you’ve connected with on Twitter. Usually, people feel flattered that you’re interested in meeting them for coffee to hear more about their job, and they’ll enjoy talking about their own career or profession. You can not only learn a lot from them, but inviting them shows your initiative and determination, and you’ll likely be top of their mind next time they hear of an opening, whether in their company or through one of their contacts.

Invest in yourself

Are you missing any professional qualifications that would help you get ahead? Taking a further degree or becoming a member of a relevant professional body might open up new opportunities, help expand your network of contacts and keep you up to date with the latest developments in your industry.

Attention to detail

Nothing annoys employers more than receiving irrelevant, poorly laid out resumes that are full of spelling mistakes. When applying for a job, spend some time tailoring your CV to show how you fulfill the requirements outlined in the advertisement. Your resume is your No.1 sales tool; ensure yours stands out from the many other CVs human resources departments receive. Cover your employment history fully with all ‘missing’ months accounted for.

Research, research, research

When applying for a job, put in some time investigating the company’s specialisms and clientele. This will enable you to tailor your application more carefully, showing your depth of knowledge and interest in what they do. The company’s own website is a good place to start. Also try searching the Internet for any news about them.

Follow up your application

After you have applied for a role and the application date has passed, take the time to find out the contact details of the key decision maker or recruiter, and follow up with a polite phone call. Confirm that your CV has been received, and then explain succinctly why you believe you are the right person for the role. This not only points out your CV amongst what may be a large pile, but it also shows that you have genuine passion for the position, which sets you apart from the applicants who are applying for anything and everything.

Preparation

So, you’ve finally got an interview. Congratulations! Now go back through your CV, reminding yourself of the things you have highlighted. Think about the questions that might come up on the day – these could be about your education, skills, experience or even personal interests.

You may be asked why you want to work for the company, why you want to leave your current job and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Write possible questions down and consider practicing a ‘mock’ interview with a friend.

Be enthusiastic

Enthusiasm is infectious and it doesn’t require any experience or special skills! Be punctual and knowledgeable about the company you are applying to. Think about doing things in your spare time that will show that you are prepared to go the extra mile to gain experience in what you do.

If a hiring manager has to choose between two people with similar qualifications, the person with the greatest enthusiasm and passion is likely to win on the day.

Securing a position in a competitive job market can be time consuming and frustrating but if you’re committed and patient, chances are that an opportunity will come along – make sure that you are in a position to take full advantage of it.

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