Strategies to Become a Competitive Job Applicant

Strategies to Become a Competitive Job Applicant

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Are you applying for jobs that have a lot of applicants and struggle to get an interview? Find out ways to stand out from the competition below and become a competitive job applicant!

To stand out from others, you’re going to have to go way beyond the basics and generic job search recommendations. Don’t just throw your application into the sea of resumes. Actively craft each and every application and thoroughly plan through the entire process of the job search.

It might get tiring to keep getting rejections, but never just submit something without really working on it. It shows employers that you are just looking for any job and not willing to put in the effort.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified career professional. These are just my personal recommendations based on past experience. Seek out a Career Coach to get help with your job search process.

1. Perfect Your LinkedIn Profile.

What I like to do is fill out my entire LinkedIn profile according to what LinkedIn recommends. Then I go look at the profiles of the top professionals in my industry and research what they put in their profiles. What makes them stand out? I try to craft my profile like their’s, but tailor it to my situation.

Most people on LinkedIn have a boring profile. It doesn’t tell much about their character. They just list a job title, a photo, a basic summary like looking for work, and a list of their past jobs. Go above and beyond and fill out everything as perfect as you can get it. Look up best practices to see how you can improve your profile.

Start with first impressions. What’s the first thing people see when they see your profile? Your cover photo, profile picture, job title and summary. Make sure those are all vibrant, professional and really showcases your personality. Have a summary that really hooks in the reader from the first sentence. Don’t just say what you did in the past and what you are looking for, tell an engaging story.

2. Create an online website and add a portfolio of your work.

You can guide employers to this website and go the extra mile to show them your achievements. Most people do not have a website that showcases their past work. If you can learn some web design and basic graphic design skills, you can make yourself stand out professionally. Be a great job applicant that is great at presentation.

In a follow up thank you letter, you can reference your portfolio after the interview. So you can show employers more about you besides just telling them through words. If you have past power points, photos, graphics, etc. of you work, the more the merrier.

3. Research the top most in-demand skills in your industry.

You can do this by doing a quick google search to see the most in-demand skills for the current year and also going on the job search boards to see what most employers list. For example, when I searched for marketing jobs, I always saw skills in Adobe Creative Suite, communication, meeting tight deadlines, and excellent copywriting skills.

If you can learn the skills that most people in your industry do not know and become great at it, you’ll be more likely to stand out to employers. Let’s say you want to go into marketing. Two of the top skills right now are UX Design and Data Analytics. Not many people have deep knowledge and skills in those areas.

Study at the level higher than the job you are applying for. If you’re applying for an entry-level position, study like you are trying to become a manager instead.

4. Work on creating a solid Elevator Pitch.

A lot of employers start making their hiring decisions within the first few mins. Be ahead of the curve and have a solid introduction to who you are. Practice with a career coach or someone that is more experienced in your industry. Your Elevator Pitch should be 30 seconds long and get to the point.

This is something the UC Berkeley Career Center taught me throughout my time when I was a student there and it has helped me stand out as a job applicant. Have a strong elevator pitch even when going to career networking events and fairs.

5. Have your resume and cover letter reviewed a lot.

Don’t just have your resume reviewed by anyone. Most of the time your friends might be making big resume mistakes too and couldn’t catch what your mistakes are. Have it reviewed by a career professional and hiring managers in your career field. They know what looks best on an application and can help you format and word your sentences better than your friends can.

You can find these people on LinkedIn. Make sure to make a connection first before asking if they can review your resume. Having your resume reviewed by hiring managers in your industry will help you to stand out more as a job applicant.

6. Network with people from the company.

Create a list of companies you would like to work at. Reach out to the people that work in the department you’d like to work in and start networking. Most people find a job through networking, so you want to make sure this is at the top of your list. Hundreds of people apply for the same job and you’re competing with those that have the same qualifications or more.

The hiring process is stressful for employers. It takes a while to find the right candidate and that’s why a lot of them go with people they already know.

7. Use a lot of keywords in your resume that are on the app.

Use the keywords on the application to not be automatically filtered out by the computer. Most likely your application will go through an automated screening process before it reaches the hiring manager. There’s no way they have time to individually read every application and it would be a waste of time when most of the applications are irrelevant to the skills demanded for the job.

The computer system will skip over a job applicant that just turns in a resume that is not edited to match the job description. Read the application thoroughly, what they need, their company’s mission and values. Then tailor your resume to reflect that. How can you meet their needs? Showcase your achievements in your resume that prove you’re capable of achieving what they need.

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8. Include numbers that show how much you improved.

One thing that employers love is when you include percentage increases or numbers in your resume. What did you accomplish? For example, if you increased online sales by 200% in the first year of your job, employers that are focused on selling products would be really impressed because their goal is to also increase their sales.

They want to know why they should invest in you. Your resume should stress why you are a good fit and what you could do for them if they chose you. A job applicant that just lists what they did for work like “Managed the company social media profiles” is so boring compared to “Improved sales through Facebook by 150% in 4 months.”

9. Make sure your resume is formatted nice and simple.

Don’t start making all kinds of cool designs unless the industry prefers that. You want your resume easily readable because employers don’t have a lot of time trying to figure out what you offer. According to Glassdoor, the average employee only spends 6 seconds reading your resume, so you don’t want some crazy design that is hard to read.

Make sure your resume is easily skimmable and the colors are not too distracting. What I like to do is use templates and look up application recommendations from top universities like UC Berkeley. Make sure your resume style matches your cover letter style like using the same font and colors.

10. Over research and practice before the interview.

Read every page on the website that is related to their mission, vision, values, history, staff, and services/products they offer. Also, read their press releases and blog articles. They are going to see if you are someone that is a cultural fit for their organization in the interview. You want to show them you know who they are in detail and how you can help them with things that they could improve in.

Take note of their strengths and weaknesses. If you have a strength in something they are weak in, make sure to include that. Look up their social media and see what they post. If they had any online events with leadership speaking, watch those. You can learn a lot from a leader and their vision in those videos.

Also, do several mock interviews with different people that have experience in that industry. They can give you advice on what the employer would most likely look for. Make a list of all the possible questions they may ask and create answers.

What are your best practices in your job search and what do you need to improve in?

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