One of the reasons people hate looking for a job is that they feel uncomfortable talking about themselves. To many, the whole job search process feels too “salesy.” But, of course, that’s exactly what it is. You are selling a product, and the product is you. Yet it doesn’t have to be awkward. With practice, highlighting your skills and accomplishments will feel much more natural.
No matter where you are in the hiring process, some strategies will help you stand out in a crowd. Let’s look at five simple ways to jumpstart your job search.
Conduct thorough research
Start the job search by doing your homework before you speak to the employer. Recruiters and hiring managers appreciate applicants who prepare and understand the organization’s pain points. The first thing you should do is visit their website. You’ll have access to valuable information, including the company’s history, mission, press releases and background information on the leadership team. Read their blogs and follow them on social media. LinkedIn is also a good place to find out who the hiring manager is. Take a look at their background and look for commonalities. Who knows—maybe you attended the same college or volunteer for the same charity organization.
Reach out to hiring managers directly
Don’t rely on hoping your job application makes it through the applicant tracking system. One reason is that those systems are designed to filter you out. In addition, it’s often an arduous process. According to recruitment data provider Appcast, the candidate drop-off rate for people who apply online but never complete an application is a whopping 92%. Instead, be proactive and contact the hiring manager directly. This approach shows initiative and is especially useful if the position has been posted for some time. At that point, you want to make sure the role is still open before you put effort into applying. Contacting the recruiter or hiring manager directly through LinkedIn also has the added benefit of allowing them to see your online profile. If your background is a perfect fit, you’ll already be ahead of other potential candidates.
Use your personal and professional network
It’s always a good idea to leverage your personal and professional networks during a job search. Don’t be shy. Reach out to your personal contacts in the field and tell them what your goals are. These are people who can advocate for you. You can also use LinkedIn to see whom you know that works there. Then ask them about the company culture and whether they have any concerns about the organization. And if you can get a reference from a current employee, that’s even better. Another added benefit of networking is that you will likely hear about jobs before they become public. That makes it a win-win because you’ll have a distinct advantage over other candidates and employers love to hire people referred to them.
Ask intelligent questions
Insightful questions reveal a lot about a candidate, so take the time to prepare them in advance. Doing so shows that you are thoughtful and interested. And remember, interviewing is a two-way street. It’s as much about you getting to know the company as the other way around. By asking intelligent questions, you’ll learn what immediate projects need to be addressed and what attributes someone needs to have to be successful in the position. It’s also a good way to spot any red flags so you can make an informed decision if you receive a job offer.
Highlight achievements over skills
Another way to stand out during your job search is to focus on accomplishments and results more than skills. If you focus on skills alone, it will be difficult to stand out from other applicants with the same competencies. So instead, be specific when it comes to your achievements.
Ask yourself questions like:
- How many people did you manage?
- What products did you launch?
- How much money did you save?
Employers understand that past behavior is a strong indicator of future performance. That’s why the Problem, Action, Result technique is so effective. Start by describing the problem or challenge you encountered. Then explain the actions you took and what the results were. It’s a good idea to think of at least five examples and practice making your explanations concise. That way, you avoid rambling and will make a better first impression.
Companies are indeed scrambling to fill open positions. At the same time, recruiters and hiring managers often receive hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes. So, it’s up to you to present your value during the job search. Take what makes you unique and inject energy, enthusiasm and personality into the mix. With that winning formula, you’ll be sure to ace your next interview.