With the unemployment rate in Utah being 5.2% as of August of 2012, the candidate pool for employers to choose from is vast. In fact, the number of resumes that a company may receive for any job posting is so great that the days of responding to each applicant about the status of a position are virtually nonexistent. Companies are also asking for very specific and technical skills, but it’s more than likely that a single person does not possess every skill listed under the description.
So, how do you make yourself more attractive to prospective employers to beat the competition? You get creative; ask for help; and apply to positions regardless if you have every listed skill or not. Below are tips to help guide you to become more marketable in this shaky economy:
Remember You Are Always Marketing Yourself
We all know that we need to dress professionally when interviewing for a job, but what about how we are branding ourselves aside from our clothing? With social media being widely used by all age groups, you must remember that this may include prospective employers. How are you marketing yourself on these social media sites? Are you writing off-color comments? Have you posted questionable pictures from parties? Are you writing rants of past employers or people? Unless you have secured your accounts to block anyone from seeing any pictures, wall comments, or information, a potential employer may be conducting a search and this could hurt your chances for an interview.
You also never know who your next employer may be. Remember that you are always marketing yourself in public. Keep in mind the ripple effect that may ruin your chances of being hired by a particular company. Years ago a lawyer friend of mine chose not to make an illegal U-turn even though it would have cut our commute by several minutes. He said to me, “You never know who your next client may be. If I did a U-turn and I happened to cut someone off by accident, that person’s day may be affected negatively because of my careless action. Then, everyone they come into contact with may be negatively affected and so on; like a ripple effect. I may receive a potential client request in the future, and that person I cut off may be walking through the door. That person would most likely walk right back out because of the memory of how my action affected their own.” Always market yourself in a positive way regardless of what you are doing or where you are at.
What is Your Email Saying About You?
Before starting the job hunt, look at your email address and be sure that it presents you as a professional. You do not want an email address like, “firstname.lastname@example.org”. If you have an email address that is confusing or sending the wrong message, create a new one specific to your job search.
Highlight the Positives and Ignore What’s Missing
The competition for employment is intense, and you want to stand out, but you’re lacking some skills employers are asking for. Do not let some missing skills prevent you from applying.
The days of having a cover-letter template are gone; instead, write each cover letter to be specific for the job you are applying to. Use your cover letter to highlight the skills that match the job description, areas where you can benefit the company, and the reasons why you are interested in the position. You do not need to address the skills you are lacking; instead you want the company to know you have researched the company. Conclude the letter by tying your skills to the mission of the company you are applying for.
Research. Do not Rehearse
If you are called in to interview, do your research before the appointment. Do not merely scan the company’s home page, but review the pages with information on the company’s history, their products, their team, and news sections. Then go beyond their webpage and conduct a general internet search to research what others may have posted about the company, press coverage, social media posts, and any other information that may be floating around the internet. You want to be well versed on the company, but not rehearsed, so that when you are asked a question you did not prepare for, you will not be flustered. Instead you will be honest and relatable.
Volunteer. Network. Build Relationships.
Most of us have heard that we must have an elevator speech. This speech is about 30 seconds in length that entices people to want to learn more about what you do, and who you are. I am not telling you that these speeches are not important, but they are not the most important when your goal is to rise above your competing candidates.
Seek out volunteer work that compliments the industry you want to be hired in. Interested in the marketing field? Look for groups like the Utah AMA and volunteer on one of their committees. You may also look for opportunities to speak to an audience about a topic you excel in.
Do not underestimate the power of networking. I am not only talking about social media, but traditional networking also. Look on websites like Meetup.com to find networking events in your area relating to your target industry. Attend events and be sure to meet new people, and then begin to build relationships with the people you met. Your efforts will not be successful by simply introducing yourself and exchanging cards. You need to make an impression, remember key points of each of your conversations, and then reach out to the individuals you met by calling them, or by sending a hand-written note reiterating your conversation and how you can network together to help each other reach your business goals. Your networking should always consist of traditional and social media. Too many people have gotten away from traditional media and rely heavily upon social media sites and email. You will stand out by using both forms to build relationships with your contacts.
Brush Up On Skills
Lastly, thanks to the vast amount of information on the Internet, you can strengthen any skill through research. Out of practice with your Microsoft Office products? Try YouTube, eHow, and Microsoft’s websites for tutorials. Want to at least have some basic HTML knowledge? The Internet is filled with websites with free information. Do not miss a career opportunity because you do not believe you possess strong enough skills. The Internet prevents you from using that excuse. Through research you can gain the knowledge you need to confidently answer “yes” when asked if you know how to use a particular program in an interview. Use your down time to learn. Do not waste a second of valuable time lamenting about your situation. Make the most of your time by learning new skills, strengthening your talents, and increasing your knowledge of the businesses you would like to work for.