Applying for a new job can be nerve-wracking. You never know whether you’ll land the position, what questions you’ll be asked during the interview, or even what to wear to one. Every decision matters when you’re trying to make a good impression.
Each decision is even more impactful as you apply for highly sought-after positions. For instance, you’ll really have to step your game up if you’re trying to apply for a major company like Google or Nike. These job postings will have hundreds of hopeful applicants, each trying to leave their mark.
So how do you stand out when the job market you’re investigating is super competitive? Each employer will look for something different. However, there are some general strategies that can improve your standing as a candidate no matter where you apply.
1. Craft the Perfect Resume
Perhaps the most common thing a potential employer will ask for is your resume. This simple sheet of paper — or PDF — will be their true first impression of you. They’ll glance over it before you even walk through the door. Here they’ll get a quick overview of your work history, accomplishments, and the skill set you bring to the table.
In fact, your resume generally determines whether you’ll get to cross the employer’s threshold at all. If your resume shows disorganization or a lack of relevant experience, you won’t be invited for an interview. A standout resume, on the other hand, will help you get your foot in the door.
If you don’t know where to start with your resume, use an AI resume builder for a leg up. This tech solution can lay out the groundwork for you to build upon. You can even adjust formatting and specific details to better fit each specific job you apply for.
2. Gain New Skills and Experiences
One thing employers love to see is a worker who is eager to learn and develop. When a company makes a hire, they don’t want it to be a temporary fix. They want to invest in someone who will grow with their company and help it to improve over time. Demonstrating an always-learning mentality on your resume will set you apart.
The types of skills you pursue may depend on the jobs you’re applying for. However, there are some general options that should be beneficial no matter what. For example, learning another language allows you to communicate with an entirely different demographic, which employers find valuable. Niche skills for specific industries can boost your standing in the smaller circles where you’ll find more specialized jobs.
A wide range of experiences can prove valuable. Spend some time volunteering, doing internships, or attending training seminars. These experiences will teach you a lot and can burnish your resume in the eyes of hiring managers.
3. Undergo Mock Interviews
The face-to-face interview is perhaps the most important part of the job application process. This is where your personality, communication skills, and negotiation skills are put on full display. A recruiter will do their best to get to know you and determine how good a fit you are for their team.
Interviews can be unpredictable. You can never be too sure what questions the HR rep or hiring manager will ask. Engaging in some mock interviews can help you prepare for the unexpected. Before a big interview, have a friend or a colleague ask you possible questions related to the position or company. This will give you a chance to practice your answers and hone your delivery.
Doing mock interviews won’t provide a memorized answer for every possible question. Rather, it will help you practice thinking on your feet and adapting to situations. The more prepared you are for an interview, the better you’re likely to perform under pressure.
4. Express Gratitude and the Right Amount of Humility
As a prospective employee, you should be confident in your abilities but not act entitled to the job you’re applying for. No matter how qualified you are for the position, this attitude can come across as arrogance rather than self-worth. That type of toxic personality can be destructive to the organization as a whole.
Be careful about your demeanor during the interview itself. You should be confident in yourself but not overbearing. Don’t act like you’re the best thing since sliced bread, as there are plenty of candidates who likely share your skill set. Pair your abilities with the type of personality an employer would like to see in their office each day.
After leaving an interview, send a thank-you email to the interviewer and follow up with a hand-written card. Express your gratitude for taking the time to meet with you and giving you the opportunity. Such a simple gesture might not seem like much, but it will make you stand out when few other applicants do anything similar.
5. Build a Network
A lot of business is about who you know. If you have the right connections, a whole new host of opportunities will present themselves. The right connection can be the difference between getting your dream job and having to settle for a lesser one as you work your way up.
So how do you build your network? A quick way to get started is through the professional social media realm of LinkedIn. You can comment on posts, share articles, and strike up conversations to meet new people and forge connections.
You can also seek out local groups of business professionals to connect with. Look for networking events and business clubs operating in the surrounding area. It’s often easier to establish a rapport when you meet people in person.
Standing out in a competitive job market is all about how you present yourself. You can’t just expect your big break to be handed to you. Look for ways to draw positive attention to yourself, and the opportunities will come your way.