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Fierce competition in today’s job market can make landing a new position an overwhelming process. Once upon a time, great job opportunities were sought in the classified ad section of the local newspaper and followed up with a personal telephone call. Today access to information about job opportunities is available to virtually anyone via the internet. Potential employers usually are not interested in speaking with you unless they’ve vetted you first. The number of online job search sites such as Indeed and Careerbuilder.com is vast, and most of them allow for uploading a resume and cover letter, but even so, it’s possible yours will never be seen.
This means that in today’s employment market, a successful candidate needs to develop strategies to make herself more visible to potential employers. What do you do when you want to make yourself stand out from the crowd of other job seekers?
You’ve already reflected and analyzed your strengths and you’ve imagined what your dream job might be. At this point a professional career counselor might be enlisted to guide you in the best possible direction. Career counselors are degreed professionals, trained in assisting and implementing career/life decisions and plans. They will work with you on every level, from job search assistance, resume writing, interview coaching, job offer assessment, and even salary negotiation. Laura Hall, founder of Career Compass Global, says, “My clients require only three to four sessions on average. I would say Louisville’s basic rate is $100 per hour, however there are places such as Jewish Family and Career Center that will charge less using a sliding scale.”
The person who decides to use her own job hunting resources understands that companies actively use social media for candidate searches. LinkedIn is a social networking site built specifically for business networking and employment. Creating a powerful profile can be an excellent tool. However, if you want to stand out in search results, it’s important to learn how to use the site to its highest potential. Prior to finding her new position with ADT as client services manager, Karen Yount says, “I had to learn that when you submit your resume to any site, including LinkedIn, most companies have a program that looks for keywords. If it doesn’t see those words, you probably won’t get a call. You have to know how to include the right ones on your resume. Also on LinkedIn, there is a way for the site to identify you as a job seeker. This let me know I was being seen by potential employers because the site would send me notifications.”
Before applying for jobs on LinkedIn (or any online job portal), it’s important to proofread. “I had my resume looked over professionally before I posted it,” says Mackenzie Portwood, newly hired PNC bank development associate. “There are lots of people who look at resumes as a side hustle, so with a quick LinkedIn search, I found someone. It isn’t mandatory, but I feel like the extra effort doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Following the social media accounts of companies you are interested in keeps you up to date with their latest news and events. Attend networking events, meetups, and seminars, and while you are at it, let everyone in your personal circle and beyond be aware that you are in the market for a new position. Very often, networking among friends and family is what opens doors. Michael Nehs, co-owner of Periscope Post and Audio in Chicago says, “I had a guy befriend my wife at a [TV series] wrap party. He kept harassing me for months until I hired him just to shut him up. He’s one of my best employees to date!”
Recovery Specialist at Equian, Christie O’ Brien was living in Florida when she knew she wanted to move back to Louisville. She put her intentions out to her friends through her social media accounts. “It was literally the day before I was leaving to come to Louisville to search for jobs that I was called for an interview because one of my friends had submitted my resume at his workplace,” Christie says. “I have been here now for six months and I’ve learned that this company likes to recruit friends of friends. Any time there is a job opening, we all post it on social media.”
“After you’ve secured your first interview, the most important thing you can do to stand out is to be prepared,” Mackenzie says. “I familiarized myself with the company, the industry, and who I would be speaking with. I prepared myself with good questions to ask as well as answers to what I thought they might ask. I think the way you prepare is what will really set you apart from the competition once you’re there.”
A Louisville mega corporation vice president (who must remain anonymous because being quoted is against company policy) offers these suggestions to stand out in an interview:
- CONFIDENCE: This may be the main quality, someone who is confident with the conversation. It doesn’t mean that they are an EXPERT in the material, and they certainly don’t have all the answers, but they are confident in themselves and how they represent. Take note — don’t confuse confidence with ego. Nobody wants to hire somebody who always thinks they are the smartest person in the room.
- ENERGY: Nothing is worse in an interview than somebody who is quiet and timid with low energy. The interviewer then has to work extra hard to keep the conversation moving. It may not be a positive working relationship if the initial meeting lacks energy.
- HUMOR: Handled appropriately, humor is always a great contributor to the interview. Done well, it can cause the candidate being interviewed to be remembered later on.
- AUTHENTIC and HUMBLE: These are two traits that are so important.If somebody perceives that a candidate is not bringing their true selves to the interview, it leaves so many questions about who the real person would be.
- NICELY PUT TOGETHER: Someone who cares about their appearance is going to exhibit pride in their work, as well. Note: a complete fashionista may be off-putting to the person conducting the interview, but modestly put together is refreshing.
- ACCOUNTABLE: In the end, the interviewer will be attempting to ascertain if the candidate will be somebody to be trusted to be committed to the job. This may be hard to determine in the interview, however, many of the above categories will be used to piece this together.
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