I graduated from college back in 2011, during the aftermath of the Great Recession. I knew then I needed to do my due diligence to stand out as the job market was fierce. While I graduated from college without a full-time job, I was able to land one just 10 days later. This was all due to the fact that I put my best effort forward to set myself apart.
Now, with millions of Americans out of work this year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, landing a job, let alone an interview has again proven an arduous task. Despite the economic changes, the good news is that many companies are still hiring! But what that means is that it’s even more essential to have a job search strategy and stand out as a job candidate using all of your connections, skills, and talents. Find out how below!
Establish Your Personal Brand
If you’re looking to stand out, your first to-do is to work on building your personal brand. Your personal brand is what sets you apart in terms of your skills, talents, experience, and personality. It’s also tied to how you promote yourself and what you want to be known for. It’s mastering the craft of telling your story. You can find ways of how to build your personal brand from a recap of one of L&I’s events here. If you’re looking to establish your personal brand in the workplace, look no further.
Build Your Thought Leadership
Owning and promoting your personal brand goes hand in hand with building your thought leadership. First, you’ll need a focus on what you’re most interested in as well as where you can provide value. From there, decide on the online platform to get your message out there. You can use LinkedIn, Medium, or develop your own website. Use the power of social media to promote your work and connect with your ideal audience. Creating and posting content becomes an opportunity for you to showcase your ideas, opinions, and skills – and get a recruiter’s attention. Read more on how to establish yourself as a thought leader here.
Add Personality to Your Resume & Cover Letter
While your resume and cover letter certainly need to be professional, don’t be afraid to add a little personality! Add personal tidbits about yourself or fun facts at the bottom of your resume. Include a story in your cover letter.
You can also take an extra step to grab a potential employer’s attention and use a video resume!
It is a surefire way to stand out and let your employer know more about you. You can do this using VCV’s free video resume tool. How cool is that?!
Some of the benefits of having a video resume are:
- You can get your main points across more seamlessly
- You’re able to showcase the confidence in yourself and your experience firsthand
- It adds a personal touch and provides an opportunity for a potential employer to get to know you before the interview
- It confirms your commitment to the role and your willingness to go the extra mile
Using VCV’s tool is easy to use and create your video:
- Click this link.
- Record a test video to make sure you are all set.
- Answer 4 questions – tell a bit about yourself and your competitive advantages. You will have 30 seconds for each answer. Bonus: you can rerecord your answer if something goes wrong!
- Get a link to your video resume straight to your mailbox that you can use to send along with your resume and cover letter. You can also add the link on your resume and your LinkedIn.
Seek Out Ways to Enhance Your Skill Set
When looking to stand out in a job market, you really need to put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter to understand what they’re looking for. Recruiters not only want to see and hear about your previous experience to know you’re qualified, but they also want to know that you’re dedicated to ongoing learning.
If you’re in between jobs or looking to make your next move, use some of your free time to see if there are certifications or courses out there that you can take to set yourself apart. Some of my personal recommendations are LinkedIn Learning, General Assembly, and Salesforce Trailhead. My friend Megan over at Color & Curiosity also has a stellar list of online learning platforms. Bonus – you can find a lot out there that is free! And definitely do not forget to include your completed programs on your resume and LinkedIn upon completion.
I truly believe that one of the best things we can do as humans is give back and donate our time. Not only does it give you a sense of purpose, but it also shows a more personable side to you, even in professional situations like when you are interviewing for a job. Companies want well-rounded job candidates and employees. Having volunteer work under your belt can certainly make you stand out, especially if you can use stories of your experience in your interview. Find a volunteer program you’re passionate about where you can consistently donate your time. Or if your time is limited, seek out opportunities where you can just periodically give back to your community or a cause you care about. For more inspiration, you can read about my experience volunteering in Rwanda here.
Focus on Being Open & Building Relationships
According to CNBC, “the old adage ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ has perhaps never been more true.” It’s been claimed that up to 70% of all jobs are not published on publicly available job search sites and that upwards of 80% of jobs are filled through networking. Yep, you read that right. Make an effort to communicate with people – those you know and don’t know – every chance you get. Hell, you can even treat social events as networking opportunities. Take every opportunity to share about yourself and what role you are seeking or the company you want to work for. Being vocal and putting yourself out there is only going to be to your advantage. Get to know others too and see how you can help them and provide value. You never know when someone can open a door for you or introduce you to someone they know who is hiring!
If networking in-person isn’t an option, go online! Social media can go a long way in building your network and professional relationships. Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups to meet like-minded people who you can connect with. Peruse your LinkedIn feed consistently and share your thoughts or reactions to posts to create quality connections. Search through your LinkedIn Connections to see if anyone you’re connected to can introduce you to someone at the company you’re interested in. You can also meet others through online events you attend.
Now that you know what you need to stand out – it’s time for you to make your move. Good luck!
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Role Strategy and Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.