Q&A: How To Stand Out In The Job Market
Q: My job is feeling uncertain lately, so I've started looking around at the options, just to be safe. It's been awhile since I did that – is there anything I should know about job searching in today's market?
A: You're certainly not alone. Some 40% of workers are actively looking for a new position or planning to job hunt this year. You can spin that as a sign of high competition, but there's good news: According to Glassdoor's newest report, there are close to 6 million jobs to be filled right now, a record number since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking job openings in 2000.
Social media may not be new to you, but its importance in a job search might be. Nearly 80% of job seekers use it, and that jumps to 86% for those who are in the first 10 years of their careers.
Get yourself a profile on LinkedIn – it's free and it's indispensable. Your LinkedIn profile will show up when people Google your name, so it's virtually guaranteed that anyone considering you for a job will come across it. More than 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn as their primary search tool. However, don't ignore other job sites like Monster, CareerBuilder, ZipRecruiter, Simply Hired and Indeed.
Whatever sites you use, your profile should encapsulate your professional self and tell a story. Use a professional photo, not the one with your kids at the beach or with friends at a restaurant.
A flawless resume is essential: Spelling, grammar and accuracy matter, and can be the difference between being screened and being screened out.The last thing you want potential employers to remember you by is a typo. And instead of listing responsibilities, tell what you've specifically accomplished.
A brief yet meaningful cover letter will also get attention. While there's some debate over whether hiring managers actually read them, the majority of experts suggest including one. If nothing else, it gives you one more chance to showcase your strengths.
If you find a company that seems ideal, you can cold call to introduce yourself. Many businesses make "opportunity hires" when they meet a great person and have a need, but haven't yet posted an open position. And, if you've made an application online and haven't had a reply in a few days, don't be afraid to pick up the phone. It can seem a little old-fashioned, but a friendly follow-up call with a recruiter will allow you to draw attention to your resume – which might be buried in an inbox – and get your personality across.
Networking is still key. That hasn't changed since you were out there. So don't be bashful in reaching out to friends and ex-colleagues. You might be pleasantly surprised by their willingness and eagerness to help. And nothing makes you look better than references from coworkers or mentors who can vouch for you and your work ethic.
Finally, follow up – whether by email, phone or in person. About 85% of employers say an applicant who follows up is impressive. Be that person.
Best of luck to you. Here's hoping these tips will help you stand out to prospective employers in all the right ways, and none of the wrong ones.