According to a report in U.S. News,"Simply being qualified won't get you an interview in today's job market. Employers are being inundated with applications from qualified candidates. If you don't differentiate yourself, you will not attract the attention of hiring managers or recruiters." Standing out is the key.
Standing out means providing far more value than what's required to do the job. If you position yourself as merely qualified, you are merely a commodity – interchangeable with everyone else who ticks the boxes next to the role's core competencies. You need to focus on what you offer that goes beyond the job description. What makes you interesting, compelling, valuable and differentiated? Here are 10 ways to make your mark:
Well before the interview, you want to make sure you are attracting the attention of the right people. If you don't quickly make the right impression in the virtual world, you'll be passed over. Paving the way for the interview is also crucial because impressions are formed in the blink of an eye; a series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov showed that it takes humans just a tenth of a second to form an impression from a stranger's face.
1. Appear on candid camera. Sometimes it's not what you say but how you say it. In a sea of emails and text-based content, video stands out. Why? It allows you to deliver a complete communication, build an emotional connection with the viewer and create familiarity before you ever meet in person, which helps you to build a relationship faster. You can use video in many different ways, ranging from thought-leadership videos posted on YouTube to a video bio explaining who you are and why you are passionate about what you do. You can even integrate video into the interview process by sending thank you video messages instead of the standard email follow-up.
2. Draw a picture. Sure, the version of your resume that gets read and evaluated by e-readers for job matching doesn't benefit from visuals. But the version in the hands of your recruiter, the hiring manager and those who will be interviewing you can truly stand out when you appropriately use differentiators like color, infographics, and the logos of the companies you have worked for. Pictures tell a more complete story, in a way that makes people want to engage.
Making The Most Of The Web
The Web is a valuable tool to help you stand out – both in how you position yourself and in how you prepare for your interview.
3. Be a sleuth. Go beyond checking out a company's website and the LinkedIn profiles of the people you are going to meet during an interview. Stand out by digging deeper to show how much you know about the organization. One way to do this is with the corporate Alumni feature in LinkedIn. Use it to identify potential contacts and reach out to learn as much as you can – the stuff they don't share on their company profile.
4. Become a stalker. Follow the company on LinkedIn to stay on top of their latest news. And use tools like Newsle to stay up to speed on what the executives and your hiring managers are doing.
5. Build a stellar LinkedIn profile. You will be googled, and LinkedIn is likely to show up in the top of the search results. Exploit this opportunity to the max and leap ahead of the competition with a compelling headline, summary that tells your story and professional headshot.
6. Buy your domain name and build your own web site. Having your own domain name – yourname.com – will help you direct people to the information you want them to learn about you. Point the domain name to your personal web site or LinkedIn profile and add the link to your resume, cover letter, business card.
Acing The Interview
7. Do your day-of homework. Check out what's happening with the company and the industry on the days immediately preceding your interview. If you are interviewing at Amazon, for example, and you learn that Alibaba just purchased a building a few miles away from Amazon HQ, you may want to bring it up in your interview to show you are paying attention.
8. Have a personal business card. Even if you are working for a company, having your own separate business card is evidence of your professionalism. Today, with digital printing and services like Upwork you can get a unique card designed and printed at minimum investment. Stand out with a square card or other features that showcase your personal brand.
If you're a golfer, you know that the follow-through of your swing is critical to driving the ball down the fairway. The same principle applies to finding your next job.
9. Thank Different. You won't be the only person interviewed, but you may be the only one to follow up with a video message. You want all the elements of your thank-you video to make you stand out from your competitors. Dissect the stages of the interview process and decide how you will make your mark at each touch point.
10. Stay connected. Using LinkedIn, reach out to connect with the new people you're meeting in your interviews. Even if you don't take the job or get the offer, stay in contact with the people you have met. Most jobs are filled through networking. The relationships you build through the job search process are valuable beyond that one position you are pursuing. Take a long-term, strategic approach.
To land your ideal job today, apply these 10 tips – all of which give you the opportunity to show what you have to offer beyond those humdrum qualifications. They'll help you step up, stand out, and get hired.
Get a handle on your differentiation with this list of 50 eye-opening personal branding questions.