In today’s winner-take-all, ultra-competitive job market, smart candidates take full advantage of every opportunity to get ahead of the competition in order to get noticed and be taken seriously by today’s savvy hiring managers. Simply put, if you’re not approaching your job search with this level of all-or-nothing seriousness, then you’re putting yourself at a tremendous disadvantage—and are making it easier for more engaged candidates to succeed.
So, unless you just like the process of hunting for jobs with no end in sight, then it’s time to start taking your job search game to the next level. Regardless of your industry, age, background, skill set, or experience level, there are tried and tested hacks that you can take advantage of to help you cut through the competition, get off the job search treadmill, and lock down your next great job opportunity.
These days, it’s harder than ever before to connect meaningfully with an HR manager or hiring personnel. They’re usually swamped with resumes and cover letters from highly polished candidates with similar backgrounds who overpromise and work tirelessly to come off as improbably flawless—so much so that it can be hard to tell one from another. If you aim to be the “perfect candidate,” not only will you get lost in the crowd, but you also will seem too good to be true to folks who have been in the recruiting world for a while and have incredibly sharp lie detection skills. Trying to put one past them can be a real risk.
Make the choice to be authentic at every stage of the job search process—avoid over-embellishing, exaggerating, and making outright lies. When telling the story of who you are on your documents and in interviews, be honest, forthright, and humble. Not only will it free you from the stress and anxiety of possibly getting tripped up by a lie, but you’ll come off as more relaxed, confident, and personable along the way—all wins for you.
Don’t be the candidate who expects the skies to open and the curtains to part for them when they’re on the job hunt trail. Remember, the purpose here is not for companies to show you how they can meet your needs and convince you that they’re worth devoting your time and effort—it’s the reverse. Your primary mission when hunting for a job is to demonstrate your value and show companies how you would be a real asset to their teams, not vice versa. Focus on explaining that you can recognize and anticipate their needs (and capably meet them), and you’ll be one step ahead of the competition—and several steps ahead of those entitled candidates who make all the wrong moves.
Do your homework
An unprepared candidate rarely finds success on the job hunt. Make sure that you’re fully prepared for every interaction you have, whether over email, during a phone conversation, or on an interview. Be well versed in the latest news, trends, and tools in your industry and learn what you can about each target company you meet with, including ideas for helping them relieve their pain points and ways that you can help them reach their target goals.
Don’t just keep this valuable info holstered in case it comes up—be proactive and showcase what you know when appropriate. The stakes are simply too high to leave things to chance, and you’ll put yourself one step ahead of candidates who spent more time picking out an interview outfit than preparing effectively.
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