It’s a tough job market out there, and with some companies receiving hundreds of applications (sometimes per day!), it can also be where your resume gets lost in the shuffle.
As the landscape becomes more competitive, it’s increasingly important to work hard to set yourself apart from other applicants in your industry. Here are some tips for standing out:
1. Follow Up/Be Persistent
We can’t stress this enough – follow up with your applications or interviews! Don’t shy away from reaching out to the company to check on the progress of your application. You’re more likely to get direct feedback this way, and to nudge the team to move forward in the process if they intend to.
Also if, after an interview, you were told that you were lacking certain skills or mandatory requirements, don’t give up! Brush up on the relevant training, reading, and certifications, and then send updates with your recent accomplishments to the team. This keeps you at the forefront of their minds and also shows initiative.
2. Be Mindful of Your Online Portfolio/Website (or Lack Thereof)
Are you a developer who has completed several projects on the side, or a technical writer who has written for multiple publications and/or done graphic design for proposals?
An online portfolio or website is the perfect medium for you to show off both the breadth and depth of your skills, and to lock in your next interview request! For job searching purposes, you’ll want to keep content directly or closely related to your field. Examples of content include: relevant work samples, letters of recommendation, a mission statement, and a professional resume.
While you’re evaluating your online presence, do a quick sweep of your social media accounts. Remove any unflattering content and never underestimate how far back employers may research on your social media feed!
3. Mind Your Manners
Every single contact you make within a company is important, whether it be a conversation with the front desk receptionist, or a run-in with the director whose team you’re applying, so treat them with utmost respect!
Organizations will take an employee recommendation to heart, so be sure that anything someone says about you is positive. This may very well set you apart from the other candidates applying for the same position.
4. Write a Great Resume
It’s extremely important to tailor your resume to each position for which you are applying. Most organizations have recruiting teams focused on the initial screening/vetting of resumes, and if they can’t easily tell if you have the required experience and skill sets just by looking at your resumes, you may be passed over for a certain position.
For example, you may be applying for a project manager position and have experience with both Agile and Waterfall methodologies. If this experience is not appropriately captured on your resume, you may be passed over for a position that requires experience with both approaches.
Use “skills” sections to highlight unique experiences you want to draw attention to, and reposition role/responsibility bullets to include the most relevant information first .
Aesthetically, it’s best to keep your resume easy on the eyes, which can be accomplished by using a uniform, easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman or Calibri, and keeping your roles and responsibilities for each position succinct and meaningful (target 6 or 7 bullets per job). A manager should be able to view your resume with a glance and determine your competencies and expertise.
5. Do Your Research
These days, content is dispersed via various forms of online media and it’s no longer sufficient to simply research the company you’re targeting via their main website.
Is the company on Twitter? Facebook? YouTube? Do they have a large LinkedIn presence? Check it all out! This information is invaluable as you are going through the job searching process. LinkedIn may provide you with common connections to the company you’re targeting (ask for an introduction!), or Facebook may present information on an Open House event that you can attend.
Additionally, don’t underestimate the value of a company’s careers page! New positions open up daily, and you may miss out if you don’t keep your eyes peeled. There is inherent value in being among the first to apply or interview for a position, especially if the company you’re targeting receives a lot of applications normally. The earlier your application is received, the smaller the initial application pool is generally.