If you find that your ability to reach companies has grown stale, I’m here to tell you there’s a reason for it. Before the economic meltdown, it used to take an average of three to six months to find a job, now finding a job takes an average of five to eight months. That’s a longer time than the average individual put away money in an emergency fund for a rainy day, like job loss, which as we all know is vital to getting back on your feet financially. Also, I might even add it is longer than the government allows an individual to collect unemployment benefits. Even more daunting is a CNN report that said, according to Corporate Executive Board, a research group, “So far this year, for every job opening, about 30 people apply on average. Of those applicants, less than 20% meet the qualifications for the job,” but rest assured, I have good news. According to many experts, you can stand out in the crowd in today’s job market by taking these simple steps.
1. Polish Your Résumé
Speaking from experience, I know before you find your dream job chances are you have probably revised your resume more than you can count. And since you are trying to tell a story about your career that says you are the best man or woman for the job, you are likely to have several different resumes that speak to your plethora of skills. All to no avail, right? For instance, the staffing company ManpowerGroup reported that “52% of U.S. employers surveyed say they have difficulty filling positions because of talent shortages.” Many experts agree that the key to a great resume is not that it’s beautiful or stylish, and it has your headshot, but the key to an excellent resume is as simple as the language you use. To accomplish that you have to be a great communicator on the pages of your resume. Only then, will you be able to tell your story of why you are the best candidate for the job. Another thing to keep in mind is, whether you are applying for an Administrative or the Director of Human Resources position, employers want to be impressed. In other words, many companies want you to be already doing the job you want. One of the many ways to do that is by participating in multicultural initiatives like lectures, workshops, and seminars and an excellent place to list those is under activities is and also on your LinkedIn account. Have you taken a foreign language recently? Let them know under education. I say this because, honestly some people just don’t know or forget to mention knowing a foreign language on their resumes. After all, if your goal is to stand out from the crowd, you should use all of your skills to your advantage. Last but not least, and perhaps more important is the proper use of spelling, grammar, and punctuations. Make sure you have more than one person look at your resume for some constructive criticism. One last thing to remember is, eighty percent of success in job searching is about successful follow-up. That means, keep a job log of all your submissions so you can follow up promptly with your thank you’ letter.
2. Furthering Your Education
According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS) “Hiring is down the world over.” But the good news is, the same study also said in the U.S. future job market is very positive because “Regional employers are expected to increase hiring by 20 percent.” And that is especially true for people with associate degrees. Although looking for work is in itself a full-time job, a non-paying one at that, but if your goal is to give yourself an upper hand in the job market and get noticed, I say you should look into investing in getting a degree. That way, you become that much more desirable for an employer who doesn’t have the time or the money to train you, especially after a long hiring process. If you do not have time for a full associate degree, look into professional certification, but make sure it is an accredited one. Specifically, one that offers transferable credits for later. Your best bet is to research the degrees or certification that will provide you with the most return for your education. In other words, “make sure you weigh the cost of the degree or certificate versus the value it will bring to you,” said business owner Mark Riddix.
See also: 10 Master’s Degrees that Won’t Get You a Job in the Modern World
3. Stay up to date on current events
I cannot stress this enough, the more you know about your current field, the better informed you are because you never know where a great opportunity might be. There are many ways to stay current on trends and the news. One way is to subscribe to magazines that specifically target your interest and or industry. I know what you be are thinking no one reads magazines anymore because everything is readily available online. Maybe so, but if you want in-depth stories, then your best option is to pick up a magazine. Better yet, join a book club because it’s a great way to network. Two, set up news alerts because it’s another excellent way to keep up to date on what is going on in the world around you. Finally, three, make a list of the ‘ten top companies’ you would love to work for and follow their Twitter page, like their Facebook page, and research people in the company on LinkedIn, which is an excellent way to network. If you do, keep it discreet and professional. I should mention, another great way to use LinkedIn is to remain in touch with old colleagues, that way if a company reviews your page (by the way, eighty percent of companies do) they can immediately see that you are still in contact with old colleagues from work. Finally, by managing your social media, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. One career adviser said it’s smart to toss your net in many directions.
Yes, volunteer, it’s an excellent opportunity to get your foot in the door. It’s also a great way to gain valuable knowledge and experience, and not to mention making contacts with people who can give you a good letter of recommendation. More importantly, most companies usually hire from the inside first, which means you are already ahead of the line. A good start is by doing some research, try to connect with someone who is in charge of community development (or other similar position) for your chosen company and work your way from there.
5. Dress for the job you want
I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true if you wish to be the part you have to act the part. In other words, fake it till you become it. The truth is, what you wear says a lot about you. Believe it or not, how you dress translates to how organized, and sound in judgment you are. And a well-trained HR personnel can spot that. So, always keep in mind that your grooming, posture and presentation play a critical part in being a desirable candidate. Be smart, and know the difference between dressing corporate and dressing fashionable. Finally, just be confident.
Share what other interesting ways you have tried to stand out from the crowded job market.