Friday, August 19, 2011

How can you stand out among so many candidates?

People ask me all the time “How can I stand out as a candidate when there are SO MANY people going after the same position?”.  I can tell you that here in Atlanta (or most major metropolitan areas of the country), if I post a position on any of the job boards or Craigslist for an Administrative Assistant or similar position, I can count on having 500+ resumes in a matter of 24 hours.  That is A LOT of resumes!  So standing out among the crowd is CRITICAL to getting hired in today’s economy.
So, what can you do?  Well, you already know I believe that networking is the BEST, if not the ONLY, way to get your new job.  I personally have never EVER been hired for a position that I applied for.  So, what do I know about getting hired in today’s economy, you might be thinking… WELL, I've only ever found positions by networking and most recently on LinkedIn and Facebook…just by paying attention to my network.  It really works!!!
BUT if you’re newer to a community, or if you have a hard time networking, there are a couple other things I recommend you do to ensure you stay at the top of that pile of 500+ resumes.
1.    Be Prepared.  Do you know what a SWOT Analysis is?  If not, you should!  Here’s a link to some SWOT templates. You need to be prepared.  Do a SWOT analysis on yourself.  Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is critical to knowing yourself.  Do a SWOT analysis on the company you are interested in.  Showing the company that you have prepared for your meeting with them by researching the company and understanding their strengths, weaknesses, etc… will make you STAND OUT in the crowd for sure!

2.    30/60/90 Day Planning.  One of the best books I’ve read is “The First 90 Days”.  It talks about how you prepare for stepping into a new role.  Put together an idea of what you plan on accomplishing in these first 90 days in your new position.  Again, this shows solid forethought and consideration for the company….rather than just wanting a “job”, you come across as a thought leader who will more likely have a good impact on the organization you are applying to.

3.    “Kudos” Book.  Keep every single “attaboy” email or note you get from your boss, your coworkers, your peers.  Get recommendation and endorsements on LinkedIn.  Make a folder of these “kudos” and keep them handy.  This does two things:
-Makes you remember that you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it!  People like you!  Keep yourself reminded of your value every day!
-It also can serve as a recommendation when meeting with employers.  If you go to a LinkedIn profile that has 0 recommendations and compare it to another that has dozens of recommendations, which one do you think the employer is more likely to call?  Believe me, we check out your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles.  You can stand out for the good or for the bad.  It’s your choice.

4.    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.  If you get a response telling you that they gave the job to someone else, thank them.  If you get an interview, thank them.  Handwritten notes are the best, but email is fine too (and much faster).  Whatever you do, EVEN IF YOU IGNORE EVERYTHING I’VE JUST TOLD YOU, Always remember to say THANK YOU!  It is the single most effective thing you can do in the process.

Add these to your repertoire and you are guaranteed to fare better in the job search process! 

Until next time, keep on keeping on!!

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