Finding a new job is never an easy task. That task grew even more difficult over the last half decade, when a struggling economy forced many companies to lay off workers and institute hiring freezes. As a result, unemployment numbers rose, and many out-of-work men and women found themselves searching for ways to stand out among a crowded pool of applicants.
Standing out in a crowded job market has always been tough, but many professionals find it even more difficult to get noticed now, when many companies request prospective employees apply for job postings via the Internet. That process can be frustrating, as even the most qualified applicants can easily get lost among the myriad of workers all applying for the same position. But as daunting as finding a new job may seem to those looking for work, there are ways to stand out among the masses.
• Go the extra mile when sending your application. Many online job postings provide a link or an email address where applicants can fill out an application or send their resumes. This is a necessary step, and applicants should follow the directions in the posting. But applicants who really want to get noticed can take the extra step of finding the contact information for the company's hiring manager and sending their resume directly to that person's email address. Include the title of the position you're applying for in the subject line of your email, and cut and paste your cover letter into the body of the email. In addition to sending your email to the company's hiring manager, consider CC'ing the person who might be your boss if you were to get the position.
• Tighten things up. Your resume should reflect your work experience, but you want to focus primarily on the experience and skills that are relevant to the position. You can list past positions or internships you've had, but keep the synopsis of those positions brief if they bear little relevance to the position for which you're applying. The main focus of your resume should be the things you have done in the past that make you the best candidate for this job. This might change as you apply for various positions, but tailor each resume to each specific position.
• Make your resume download-friendly. Applying for positions but getting little response despite your qualifications? Chances are your resume might not be download-friendly. Bullet points and boxes might look good to you, but if the hiring manager on the receiving end of your resume does not have the same version of the program you're using, that resume might look like a scrambled mess by the time the it's downloaded. In such instances your resume is almost certain to end up in the scrap heap, no matter how qualified you might be. When uploading your resume to a company website or emailing it to a hiring manager, choose a format they can easily download. A PDF, for example, is a format that's easy to download and unlikely to scramble.
• Beware of hyperlinks. Adding hyperlinks to a resume can be hit or miss. When it's a hit, a hiring manager can click on a link in your resume and be taken directly to samples of your work. However, if you're asked to submit your resume via an online application instead of sending it directly to a hiring manager's email address, then those same hyperlinks might be relegating your application to the trash bin before it's ever seen. That's because the database may be programmed to associate any documents with hyperlinks as spam, in which case the hiring manager will never see your application or resume. Hyperlinks can be useful and help you stand out, but only when they're employed under the right circumstances.
• Include social media profiles. More and more companies want employees who are familiar with social media, which can work to an applicants' advantage or prove detrimental. If you have been responsible regarding your use of social media, conducting yourself in a professional matter and even benefitting your existing employer, by all means share these profiles with potential employers. But if you have traditionally used social media purely as a social tool and not in a professional manner, then it bears little relevance to your job search and likely won't help you stand out for the right reasons.
Standing out in a crowded job is rarely easy. But savvy professionals can employ a few tricks of the trade to stand out as they search for their next jobs.