Job Search Tips

Best ways to stand out when you’re applying for competitive jobs

Written by Peter Jones

We all know the market is competitive. Any job you apply for is probably receiving a minimum of 100 applications—with some getting up to the thousands. But someone has to get every job, right? People do make it through to the next levels of the hiring process, even in crowded, qualified fields of applicants.

You have to assume the majority of job seekers you’re competing with are on the ball—their resumes are spotless and their experience and skill base matches or exceeds the job requirements. So how can you stand out as the best person for the job amidst all the house? Use some of these more targeted strategies to help elevate your application package.

1. Make your purpose clear and direct.

The most impressive (or at least the most attractive) candidates tend to be the ones that project a kind of professional purpose. These candidates have taken the time and effort to figure out what it is they want to do, and why, and how to reach their goals. Recruiters find it very easy to match these candidates into their companies, because it’s clear if they’ll be a fit. Make sure you can articulate the talents that make you a good match and place them prominently in your cover letter, resume, and other application materials. Know yourself and make that sing.

2. Don’t hold back—sell yourself.

It’s not enough to just know what drives you. You have to share that vision, enthusiastically, even if you’re shy and not prone to bragging. Put together a short pitch that summarizes why you, and only you, are the best person for the job. Once you have this down, you can use it at many points during your job search. Turn it into an elevator pitch for networking. Emphasize it in your interview. Build it into your social media presence. Make your sales pitch a part of how you present to the world while job seeking, both in person and on paper.

3. Sanitize your social media.

You could have the greatest application in the world, but if your social media profiles are inappropriate or controversial or just childish, a recruiter is going to toss your file in the trash. Make sure to Google yourself and scour your net presence until it’s every bit as polished and professional as you hope to present yourself to the world.

4. Make your professional info a click away.

There are some fancy trends out there, and you better believe the competition will be keeping up with them. If you’re up for it, try building a personal website to give a sense of your personal branding. Include the link in your resume, and include your resume on your website. A website can also (stylishly!) convey all the context you didn’t have room to include on your resume. Use this extra space to your advantage!

5. Network to build a group of reliable referrals.

Sadly, sometimes it really does come down to who you know. Make sure you’re constantly out there networking and making inquiries. Finding inroads to companies you want to work for to make contacts and seek mentors. You never now when someone you meet at a cocktail party or a lecture is going to be the one to pass your resume to a decision maker.

About the author

Peter Jones