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Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

14 Ways to Stand Out if You’re Applying to Jobs Right Now

That don’t take too much time

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I am not a recruiter and I’m not a certified resume writer. What I am is someone who approaches job applications as a creative challenge. When I’ve applied to jobs in the past, I’ve always thought:

  • How can I make it clear I really, really want this job?
  • How can I go beyond what everyone else is doing?
  • How can I do these things in the most efficient way possible?
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Screenshot via my LinkedIn

Job listings are just the beginning

Ah, job boards. They’re so convenient. That’s why everyone uses them. By all means, start here to get a sense of open roles, but please don’t stop here. Below are three more things you can do to increase your chances of finding relevant openings that a bunch of people don’t know about already.

  1. Join a Slack community for your industry: If you haven’t heard of Slack, it’s a collaboration tool for companies to communicate in real-time. Members join channels for different discussion topics (#pets or #gameofthrones or, you know, projects at work). Members can also have one-on-one conversations. Did you know there are also public Slack workplaces? Here’s an article I found when I searched “marketing Slack workspaces”. These groups often have a channel for people to post job opportunities, so do a quick search to see if there’s one (or more) available for your industry.
  2. Make the most of LinkedIn: If you haven’t been on LinkedIn in a while, now is the time to dust off that profile. After you’ve made sure all your info is up-to-date, spend some time sending connection requests to current and former colleagues and other people in your field. I’d recommend against sending requests to people you’ve never met before/don’t actually know. Finally, make a habit of scrolling LinkedIn once or twice per day. You might discover a post or two from connections looking to grow their teams. And a private message to that connection might just be what you need to get your foot in the door.

Give ’em a resume worth talking about

Sure, resumes are not the most exciting things in the world. The person reviewing yours probably won’t read every word, so why not give them something great to skim? Here are six things to consider when preparing your resume.

  1. Quantify your experience: How many people did you manage? How many projects did you lead? How many blog posts did you write in a month? How much did you grow company revenue? You get the point. Attach a number to your accomplishments when that number is impressive. You worked hard for that result.
  2. Use strong action words: Were you “part of a global team spanning multiple departments” or did you “collaborate with cross-functional teams in China, Germany and the UK”? Technically, both. One sounds way better, though.
  3. Don’t talk the talk: Ask yourself: “would someone who didn’t work at this company understand? Sometimes we get so used to company terminology, we forget that the rest of the world doesn’t speak that language. As a general rule, make sure your resume is clear, even to someone who doesn’t have years of experience in your specific field. Better yet, ask a friend in a different industry to give it a critical read.
  4. Do a spelling and grammar check: There’s nothing worse than discovering an error after you’ve submitted your resume. So review it with a close eye, and then have someone else do it, too. Make sure tenses are consistent while you’re at it. Past jobs should be in the past tense.

Make sure your cover letter is covered

Some jobs require a cover letter. Others have an optional field for one. I say, why skip this great opportunity to make yourself stand out. There are three rules I live by when it comes to cover letters:

  1. Tell a story: I’m sure there are fields where a templated cover letter is expected. If you work in one of those fields, you know who you are and can ignore this tip. If you don’t, I highly recommend making your cover letter personal. Talk about a challenge you overcame that relates to the company. Tell a story that captures why you’re so passionate about the products they sell. Or, tell a story that captures your best characteristic as an employee. Hiring managers are people, too. So write like it. Speaking of stories, see below.
  2. Never send the same cover letter twice: Every job is different, so every cover letter should be different. Even if you customize just a few sentences that small amount of effort can go a long way.

Prepping for the interview

Congrats! Getting a message from a real, live human saying they’d like to schedule an interview is a great feeling. Odds are, you already know how to sell your own experience (this is not the time to be humble), but there’s more you can do. And it won’t take more than 20 minutes.

  1. Ask thoughtful questions: That research you spent 20 minutes doing? It’ll give you two results for the price of one. There comes a time in every interview when the interviewer asks: “so, do you have any questions for me?” Please, please, please never say no to this. Come prepared with questions that show you’ve spent time learning about the company. If you work in marketing, you might say: “I noticed you have blog posts from employees across the company. Can you tell me about how marketing collaborates with different functions?” You can even preface it with: “In my last role, I worked really hard to build strong working relationships with our sales and engineering teams.”
  2. Send a thank-you email: If you end the interview excited about the role, tell the interviewer! A simple email thanking them for talking with you and letting them know how great of a fit the position sounds can go a long way. Bonus points if you reference something specific that was discussed. Interviewers meet a lot of people, and they’re likely juggling a lot at home and at work too right now.

Writer. Editor. Marketer. Content Strategist. Articles in The Startup, Better Marketing, The Ascent, The Writing Cooperative // alyssagreenfield.com

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