There is more than one way to stand out in your job search

Many times around the office talk turns to what one candidate or another has done to stand out of the crowd.  Sometimes good, sometimes not.  Both are memorable but only one gets a call back.

It depends

The way you SHOULD stand out really depends on a lot of factors:

  • Industry
  • Company culture
  • Profession
  • Position
  • Experience level

The list goes on.  People often ask “how can I stand out in the job search as a top candidate?”  I wish it was simple.  It is like asking “how can I stand out on a first date so they want to go out again?”  Not that easy, is it?  Everyone and every company looks for something a little different but I think there are some similarities.

Sales Jobs

If you are going for a sales position you can probably stand to be a bit more persistent than in other professions.  I have had people show up to the office and ask if I was available.  I love that!  Or at the very least just call and ask for me.  That IS what sales people do isn’t it?

Patiently Persistent

I think most companies want to be wanted.  You need to learn how to walk the line between being very interested and seeming like a desperate stalker.  That line can be crossed by one too many emails or calls.  Be sure to ask what the process is and follow up when you say you will.

Don’t get angry

Here is the deal, crap happens.  I have had people no-show their first day on the job or back out the day before they were going to start.  That is after months of me recruiting to fill that opening, us spending thousands of dollars in the process before hiring someone only to have them do an about face.  Do I get angry?  Sure I do.  But do I call them up, email them, or blast them online?  No way!  I get it.

In the same vane I expect people to deal with disappointment, frustration or even anger professionally.  I have had it happen a few times that we like a candidate at first but then decide they are not a fit.  But I have also had it happen where we don’t pursue a candidate only to have them follow up, show their continued interest in the position and get another chance at the job.  In the end, do your really want to work for a company that does not want you?  I don’t.  But I get it, we all have bills to pay.

Be Creative

I personally like people to be a little creative in their pursuit of a position.  Follow your target company on LinkedIn and Twitter.  Like some of the good posts and follow people at the company.  Mention them in your posts.  Follow up after you apply for a position.  I would rather feel like I did too much in my pursuit of a job I did not get than worry that I did not do enough.

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
Joseph Chilton Pearce

Don’t seem desperate in your job search

I see a lot of resumes and do a lot of interviews each week.  It is pretty evident who is desperate in their job search.  I am not saying it is not OK to feel desperate, just don’t let it show.

I’m open to anything

Many candidate when asked “What are you looking for” or “Why are you interested in this job” answer “I’m open to anything” or “because I have done it before.”  Here is a newsflash… that does NOT get an employer interested in you.  Think if you were on a first date with someone and you asked them “why did you ask me out?”  They answer: “Oh, I’ll date anyone, I am not picky.”  Or how about if they answered “because I have dated people of your gender before.”  WOW what a winner!

Don’t apply desperate

When you start applying for a position you need to show that you are interested in THAT position and THAT company.  Do a little research, find out what makes them unique.  It really is not that difficult to do for one position.  I will grant you that it can be daunting to do for each and every job you apply for but if you want to be successful in your job search, you need to.

Action is the foundational key to all success.
Pablo Picasso

You must change how you view failure

Many people view failure as… well… failure.  You need to change the way you view failure.

Failure – fail·ure, fālyər – a lack of success

First notice that it does not say that YOU are a failure.   Secondly notice that it did NOT say your will never succeed.  You just did not succeed THIS time.  If you think it means that you are a failure then you are listening to the enemy.

You must look at failure as an opportunity to find out how and why something did not work.  What is not working in your job search?  If you are not offered a position try to figure out why.  The final answer might be elusive or it might be a combination of small things that made the company believe you would not be successful there.  Or maybe there was someone who the company felt would be a better match.  Break the job search process down to steps to identify the issues…

Not getting phone calls

It is probably your resume or you are applying for jobs you are not qualified for or you are just not getting your information in front of the right people.  Ask others to look at your resume and give them samples of the jobs you are applying for, do they match?  Is your resume easy to read?  Are you networking at the companies you are apply with?

Getting phone calls but no face to face interviews

How is your phone demeanor?  Are you following up quickly?  Are you not showing your desire for the position?  What questions are they asking?

Getting interviews but no offers

Are you arriving a little early?  Are you prepared for the interviews?  Are you asking “good” questions?  How are your non-verbal skills?  Are you dressing for success?  What questions are they asking and what are your answers?

Believe me, I know this process is frustrating.  But during the times I have been in a job search I usually know when and why I do not get calls, interviews or offers.  But to figure it out it usually takes being very honest with yourself and a good bit of self-awareness.  It also helps if you have people in your life that will be honest with you.  Few of us do.

If you are afraid of failure, you don’t deserve to be successful.
Charles Barkley

What going it on your own costs you

I was reading Kristin Wong’s article at LifeHacker: “The Biggest Wastes of Time We Regret When We Get Older” when it hit me… this can have BIG costs in your job search!

That’s OK, I’ll get the next one

Don’t believe me?  Ever had something like this happen… You are talking to an acquaintance or friend when you mention something like “I wish I had…” fill in the blank:

  • Made it the concert
  • Gotten an interview with …
  • Heard about …
  • Known …

Then your friend says something like “Oh, I wish I had known you were interested.  I know someone there that could have hooked you up.”  #yousoidiot  You think to yourself… “Seriously!  If I had just put it on FB, Twitter or mentioned it in casual conversation I could have avoided all of this!”  If you are like me you then think “I’ll never do that again,” only to do it again and again.

Leverage your network

If you stop for a moment and think about all the people you know I bet you have quite an impressive list.  When identifying your network don’t just include your close friends, think about people you have just met or even have a loose connection with.  Research has shown that frequently, loose connections are more helpful in the job search than close friends.

Put your network on a contact schedule.  For those of you in sales think of putting them into some type of CRM that will help you keep track of them.  If anyone knows of a good way to categorize, filter, sort and keep contacts up to date (outside of excel) please let me know.

If you’re not asking for help, you’re probably not challenging yourself enough.

Maybe feeling like “I got this” is an indicator that you have gotten too comfortable in what you are doing.  I believe that if we are not growing then we are 1. being left behind and 2. shrinking.  I am competitive so I don’t like the idea of someone getting ahead of me and I want to continue to grow.”Al Pollard

Al Pollard

Growth is the only evidence of life.
John Henry Newman