Standing Out From the Crowd by Peggy McGee

When there are thousands of applicants for jobs posted online, it’s virtually impossible to get noticed. But there are proven strategies you can use to take control and land the job.

In this overcrowded job market, what can you do to stand out? Times are tough for job seekers, and it doesn’t make much of a difference what field you’re in; it’s an employer’s market.  When there are thousands of applicants for jobs posted online, it’s virtually impossible to get noticed. But there are proven strategies you can use to take control and land the job.

Rethink Your Job Search

Most job seekers don’t understand that the job search is a sales process, even if your job has nothing to do with sales. You want an employer to hire you, which essentially means to buy your product – you. So why should he or she buy your skills and talents over someone else’s?  What benefits can you offer? What makes you different from other products? Where do you fit in the marketplace? With this in mind, is your resume acting as the marketing brochure it should be? Strategically analyzing these issues and constructing compelling answers to these questions are the first big steps toward your goal.

Make Social Media Your Job Search’s Best Friend

Online social networks are both underrated and often misused as a job-search tool.  Facebook and Twitter can be amazing avenues to network or follow job leads, but it’s easy to forget that socializing with your friends can lead to comments or pictures that will kill your chances when the hiring manager sees it. Sanitize your pages; you will be Googled. But the big daddy of online networks, and the place you need to spend most of your time, is LinkedIn.You must be on LinkedIn, with a high-quality profile that includes a business-appropriate photo.  (Career Confidential offers a tutorial on this). There are more 70 million professionals on LinkedIn. That’s a lot of job leads. And, at least 80% of employers and recruiters use LinkedIn to look for potential hires.You can’t afford to miss it.

You can join groups specific to your field and learn tremendous amounts of vital information, make connections to grow your network, and make a name for yourself by joining discussions and contributing useful comments. Companies maintain pages that are invaluable when researching for your interview. Perhaps most importantly, you can get ahead of the job-searching crowd and find hidden jobs by contacting hiring managers directly on LinkedIn.

Use Interview Tools That Impress Hiring Managers

The single most important interview tool is the 30/60/90-day plan. Having a written plan for how you’ll attack the job in the first 90 days is a guaranteed way to make a powerful impression on the hiring manager. It shows that you understand the job (or you never would have been able to create the plan), that you want the job (it takes some effort to put one together and requires significant research), and that you can do the job (you know what it’s going to take to be successful). It’s especially useful for when you’re new to the business and have no experience, because it helps the hiring manager “see” you in the job. Career Confidential has top-notch tools available to walk you through creating one.

Job Shadowing

It’s not just a try-out for your new career. Job shadowing gives you keywords that get your resume noticed in HR computer systems, material for your 90-day plan, and more informed answers to interview questions. Find someone to shadow (most people are flattered to be asked), find out what a typical day is like, and ask how to be more competitive in the job search and on the job. This experience increases your odds dramatically. It sets you apart as a go-getter, shows that you can make contacts, and is another way to help the hiring manager see you in the job.

Polish Your Interview Skills Until They Shine

You know the basic rules for interviewing: dress appropriately, watch your body language and prepare answers to typical interview questions. These are make-or-break issues.

But did you know how important it is to ask questions of your own? Or that you must ask for the job before you leave?  These actions demonstrate your confidence and professionalism.  They definitely help you stand out, because you’ve gone a step or two farther than most candidates who just answer what they’re asked.

Asking questions of your own shows that you’ve done your research, think strategically, and have good communication skills.Yes, you should ask about the company and the job, but you should also ask, “What are you looking for in this position?” or even, “Tell me about your best employee.” That’s going to give you big clues to what the hiring manager wants to hear in your answers, and you can tailor them accordingly.

Asking for the job shows, simply, that you want it. Many candidates are afraid to be that bold, but you have to do it. If you don’t, hiring managers wonder if you really want the job, or if you have enough initiative to do it well. Simply ask, “What’s the next step?” or “Are you confident that I’m a person who can meet the challenges of this position?” You’ll uncover any doubts the hiring manager has about you so that you can deal with them right then and there.  Don’t let this opportunity pass you by, because chances are you won’t get another.

Use Online Resources

Research interview tips online, and go to Career Confidential‘s website at You’ll find hundreds of articles dedicated to the job search, and tools guaranteed to improve your results as a candidate.

YouTube is a great source for videos to assist you. Career Confidential also has a YouTube channel with videos to coach candidates on a wide variety of topics:  Check it out, and good luck in the search.