Cultivating Your Unique Edge: Three Strategies to Shine in the Job Search Crowd was originally published on Ivy Exec.
Today’s job market is extremely competitive, with every position posting receiving an average of 118 applications. Out of this pool, just 21 percent of candidates, on average, secure an interview opportunity.
This data underscores the fierce competition in the job hunt. While job openings are plentiful, those offering attractive compensation and work-life balance perks are scarce.
“Securing job offers, particularly at companies offering competitive salaries and coveted benefits like unlimited paid time off and remote work options, remains a challenge. This challenge is compounded for individuals seeking to transition into new industries, where they contend with more experienced candidates,” noted career coach Mandi Woodruff-Santos.
So, how can you distinguish yourself in this competitive landscape?
Building Your Professional Reputation
Your brand, showcased on social media and in application materials, is pivotal. Before applying, align your social media, particularly LinkedIn, with your application details. Consistency is key.
A robust personal brand increases your chances of receiving job leads from your network. Additionally, when your contacts know about your job search, you’re more likely to hear about the 70 percent of unadvertised positions filled internally or via referrals.
After applying, connect with your contacts within the organization if you haven’t already. Referrals wield substantial influence, with around half of referred applicants securing interviews.
“Reach out to your connections and express your interest in discussing a position at their organization. Many companies incentivize employees for referrals, so people are often willing to recommend you,” advised executive search specialist John Armstrong.
Tailoring Your Application Materials
A common mistake job seekers make is failing to customize their cover letter and resume for each role. Even if applying to similar positions, ensure your language mirrors the job posting precisely, including using the same industry terminology.
Further, make it easy for the hiring manager by clearly demonstrating how your qualifications align with their requirements.
“Before submitting your application, carefully study the job description. Then, adapt your resume and cover letter to emphasize how your career experiences directly align with the role’s requirements and qualifications,” recommended Greenhouse.
Offer concrete examples of how you’ve gained the skills and experience the position demands. In your resume and interviews, employ the STAR technique – Situation, Task, Action, and Result – to comprehensively illustrate your relevant experience.
Demonstrating Enthusiasm and Insight
Another avenue to set yourself apart is by thoroughly researching the organization before composing your cover letter and participating in interviews. Many candidates tend to use generic applications when applying to multiple companies, a practice that leaves hiring managers underwhelmed.
Lacking knowledge about the organization during interviews can be equally detrimental. Before submitting your application, delve deep into the company’s history and ethos to authentically convey your passion for its mission in your materials. Adapting your content to match the specific job and organization is a strategy that distinguishes you from the crowd.
Furthermore, gain a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s operations, enabling you to pose astute questions during the interview. Tailoring your inquiries to the role and company underscores your genuine interest.
An impressive 43 percent of employers hold candidates in higher regard when they ask relevant questions about the position, colleagues, and company culture during interviews.
In an executive-level job hunt, the competition is fierce.
Nevertheless, you can set yourself apart by cultivating your personal brand, customizing your application materials, and demonstrating your genuine enthusiasm and deep understanding of the organization.