Differentiating Yourself as a Job Seeker
How to maximize your opportunity to find employment in a tough job market
By Claudine Vainrub, MBA and Principal of EduPlan, LLC
We read the unemployment statistics and cringe at the thought of not finding opportunities. However, there are tools that can help us to stand out from our competition and gain notice in the minds of decision-makers. Here is a list of simple but effective things to do to get noticed in a positive and productive way:
1- Develop a professional resume
By researching the latest trends and knowing what market expectations are, not only we appear professional in front of recruiters, we also become cutting-edge careerists who are informed and have the ability to quickly learn and implement processes. A professional resume should be between 1 and 2 pages long, have a section regarding core competencies and a top section listing career highlights. It should not have very lengthy paragraphs anywhere – these are not of the liking of most corporate leaders, who will devote only a few seconds to glance at a resume before making a decision on whether to put it at the top or the bottom of the pile. Seek advice through resume guides developed by certified professional resume writers. Some include “Happy About My Resume” by Barbara Safani and “Resumes for the Rest of Us” by Arnold Boldt. Find and engage help from certified professional resume writers, associations and career centers who understand and can train you on how to write a compelling marketing document. Your resume should inform, but most importantly, it needs to “sell”. You provide a service that is valuable to corporations and this should be clear to a recruiter when gazing at the resume. Spend as long as you need developing a successful resume that becomes a door-opener.
2- Research the company
Conduct extensive research on the companies you apply to so that you understand who they really are and what they stand for. This will be useful throughout the application process, when developing a cover letter and interviewing. As you know the company in-depth, you will be able to ask relevant questions during the interview process and demonstrate your real interest in the corporation, by discussing their news, trends and insights with corporate decision-makers. Although we are in an unfavorable job market for job seekers, and desperation can arise when looking for jobs, the job search process does go both ways. As a job seeker, you need to review if the company you are applying to stands on high ethical and moral values, understands and appreciates diversity, seeks growth, treats its employees fairly, provides a product that truly satisfies a need and does not mock the customer, among other considerations. Knowing this will help you ensure that signing in with the company will be a decision you will not regret one day.
3- Develop a customized cover letter for each job posting
This does take hard work but is 100% necessary, if you want to get noticed. A canned cover letter could diminish your chances of achieving the interview, and worse than that, it might end up hurting you. To stand out from the crowd, an original but always professional cover letter can do the trick and get you an interview invite. It can demonstrate that you have gone further than just reading the ad, and learned what the company values, what the goals of the department you are applying to are, and how you can make a difference within that department. Each letter can take you an hour to complete, between research and the writing. But you will find that this is well-spent time that can bring great value to you as an applicant when seen from the eyes of a corporate manager who supports its organization. If you are able to effectively convey what you envision for the company and how you can make a difference, they could feel compelled to call you at least to ask you regarding ideas you have for the company and ways to implement them. If the company does not give you the job, they could consider you for a subcontracted project, and that represents an open door in itself.
4- Take time to customize your resume to the position you are applying for
When finding positions you have a lot in common with, do not limit yourself to customizing a cover letter. Go further and customize your resume to show that you have done several of the listed requirements for the position. This will help you get noticed for that job specifically, becoming a great candidate when showing that you have experience in several of the job characteristics.
5- Brand yourself
Through personal skills assessments available online at http://online.onetcenter.org and 360 assessments such as the EduPlan 361, we are able to determine our strengths and how we can bring added value to any environment. It is the set or combination of attributes that each one of us has that allows us to make a difference within a specific company in a way no other professional will. Knowing what our unique combination of traits is proves extremely beneficial to create a compelling presentation of who we are and why we should be hired. When utilizing personal branding, we empower ourselves to effectively broadcast our differentiators and how they support corporate growth process for any cutting-edge company. We find self-assurance and learn how to project it, developing a favorable image that speaks for itself. Knowing ourselves well and expressing our unique combination of strengths will support us in standing out from the crowd.
6- Maintain a “winner” attitude
The job search process can be daunting. Finding the courage to face rejection and continue pushing through the process is of the essence, when seeking job search success. We must know that this is a process that will end in a job – sooner or later, we will find the right opportunity and a company will recognize us as the right person to be hired. However, usually, we will need to knock a lot of doors before one fully opens up for us. With a great attitude, high spirits and self-assurance, we will convince others of our skill, our leading and team collaboration capacity and interest in career growth.
Taking the job process as a full-time job + is a must these days. Forget the statistics, we must focus on our capacities and trust our perseveration, impetus and hard-work philosophy. The hiring decision cannot be controlled by the job seeker. However, being creative about the process and utilizing all available resources and time to proactively seek opportunities, while keeping a positive mind, are things we surely can grasp and that can make a big difference in the job search process. It is within us to take the steps to become successful job seekers and soon-to-be employees and corporate leaders.