Since the start of the pandemic, the unemployment rate has spiked and fallen, but there are still more candidates competing for fewer jobs (source). It has become extremely important to stand out as a job seeker to improve your chances at landing the job you want. Here are some tips a person can use to gain the attention of prospective employers. If you are in the midst of a job search, consider these 6 items to improve your odds.
Send resumes to employers you want to work for regardless of job postings.
Don’t assume the only opportunities available are being posted online. Identify the companies that interest you and make sure they receive your resume, whether they have a job posted or not. You never know if a company is thinking about growing their team, replacing a poor performer, or has someone who will be retiring in the near future. Demonstrate initiative by being proactive and introducing yourself. You just might receive consideration before a position hits the general public.
Use social media to your advantage.
In the age of internet and social media, it is easier to gain access to people than it ever was before. Use LinkedIn and other social media platforms to your advantage. See who you know in the companies that have your interest and ask for an introduction. If you can, connect with a decision maker and let them know you’ve been impressed with their company and why. Be careful not to overuse this tactic as it can be perceived as overbearing, but you should be comfortable enough to make an introduction. Here is a good article with other tips for social media.
Detail your accomplishments when answering interview questions.
When you have an interview, you certainly want to leave the right impression. All too often, candidates answer interview questions by explaining what they think they can or should do. They will typically use hypothetical answers to real world questions. Whenever possible, answer those questions with real world examples because interviewers want to hear about your experience. Practice starting sentences with, “When I experienced that at…” or “I’ve learned that by doing…” I am not suggesting arrogance, but never be shy about your accomplishments.
Ask questions about the position during interviews.
When given the opportunity to ask questions during an interview, many candidates will just ask about qualifications, benefits, and pay. This doesn’t tell you about the position or the interviewer about your competency level. When the opportunity presents itself, ask about the responsibilities, how the position impacts the organization, what has been lacking in the position, what attributes would make a candidate successful in the position, etc. Asking thought provoking questions will make you stand out as a job seeker and it demonstrates critical thinking, engagement, and interest.
Avoid speaking negatively about past employers.
This may seem obvious, but I am amazed at how often candidates speak negatively about their previous employer. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding an employee’s departure, complaining and casting blame will reflect poorly on the candidate. It can appear unprofessional, petty, and even vindictive. Of course, a prospective employer will ask why you are no longer employed (if that is the case). Leaving drama or finger-pointing out of the explanation will put you in a better light. Here is some advice for how to deftly handle the explanation of why you were dismissed or fired.
Put your focus on the company, not yourself.
If you really want to stand out during an interview, be company centric. If you want the job, highlight what you can bring to the company. Avoid focusing the conversation on what the company can do for you. The prospective employer has to want what you can bring to the table, if you want them to make you an offer. If you demonstrate more interest in what the company offers, you run the risk of being perceived as self-centered and not a team player. Instead, stand out as a job seeker by illustrating you care about the team and the company’s well-being.
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