How to stand out in your job hunt

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On average, every job that’s posted will receive 118 applications. Out of that number, only 22 percent of applicants, on average, will be invited to interview for the job. 

These numbers go to show that the job hunt is competitive. What’s more, while there are plenty of jobs open these days, positions that pay well and offer compelling work-life balance packages are even more difficult to come by.

“It’s still challenging to land job offers, especially at companies offering competitive salaries and highly sought-after benefits like unlimited paid time off, remote work privileges, and other perks. The challenges are even greater for workers looking to pivot into a new industry, where they may be competing for jobs against multiple candidates with more experience,” said career coach Mandi Woodruff-Santos. 

So, when you’re applying for jobs, the question is, of course, how can I make myself stand out from the pack? 

Here, we’ll talk about the three most significant ways you can stand out in your job hunt and land your dream role.

Build your reputation with your network

On social media and in your application materials, make sure you convey a strong sense of your professional self – otherwise known as your personal brand. Before you start applying, tailor your social media, especially your LinkedIn, to convey the same information as your application materials will. Consistency is key.  

The stronger your personal brand, the more likely you are to receive information about job openings from your network. At the same time, if you let these contact know you’re searching for a job, you’re more likely to be informed about the 70 percent (or more!) of jobs that are never posted but are filled internally or through referrals. 

After you apply for a job, you should connect with your contacts at the organization if you haven’t already. Referrals are powerful tools – as around half of applicants who had them ended up landing an interview. 

“Reach out to your connections and let them know that you are very interested in talking to someone about a position in their organization. Many companies incentivize employees for referrals so, more often than not, people will be happy to refer your details,” said executive search specialist John Armstrong.

Make sure you’re customizing your materials for the role you want.

One of the biggest foibles that job seekers make is failing to customize both their cover letter and resume for each job they want. Even if you’re applying to similar jobs, make sure to change your language to exactly match what is expressed on the job posting. That means including the exact jargon used in the job posting. 

Then, ensure that you’re making the hiring manager’s job easy by connecting the dots between what they’re looking for in a candidate and your materials. 

“Before submitting your application, take a good look at the job description for the role. Then, tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight what you’ve done in your career that directly ties back to the requirements and qualifications,” argues Greenhouse. 

You also want to make sure you’re offering examples of how you have come to possess the skills and experience the posting requires. In both your resume and your interview, use the STAR technique to fully explain your relevant experience. 

STAR “stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Set the scene of the problem (situation), explain your role and responsibilities (task), explain how you tackled the problem (action), and detail the outcome (result),” explains Seek.

In your materials, demonstrate your enthusiasm and understanding of the organization.

Another way you can stand out in your job hunt is by doing your research before writing your cover letter and when you’re invited for an interview. Too many candidates seem to send out their application materials to any and every company without demonstrating any particular knowledge about the organization. This is certainly unappealing to hiring managers. 

If you don’t know anything about the organization when you’re invited to an interview, you’re not setting yourself up for success. 

So, before you apply for a job, make sure to read about the company so you can express your enthusiasm about their mission in your materials. In addition to expressing your interest in working at the company, you’ll also be able to tailor what you include more fully to the job at hand. 

Over a third (36 percent) of employers say if a candidate seems to know about the company, they will be more likely to hire them. 

Later, you want to make sure you understand precisely what the organization does so you can ask smart questions in the interview. Questions that are tailored to the organization and role demonstrate that you want this job, not just any job. 

43 percent of employers say that if candidates ask strong questions about the position, their colleagues, company culture, and the like will be much more likely to be viewed favorably in the interview. 

Standing Out in Your Job Hunt

At the executive level, it can be daunting to realize just how many people might be applying for the jobs you want.

But there are certainly ways to set yourself apart from the crowd. Building your personal brand and network is a great way to start. Additionally, in your application materials and interviews, you’ll be more successful if you demonstrate how you both understand and are excited about the role.

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