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5 Strategies to Stand Out in a Hyper-Competitive Job Market
The Greasy Corporate Sliding Board
No matter what age you are, and no matter where you live, you'd probably agree that the job market in the early 21st century is hyper-competitive. We are so far past "dog eat dog" that we need a new analogy. The best one I can think of is a gigantic sliding board. This sliding board is the kind you find at amusement parks. Instead of people sliding down, there are people climbing on top of each other falling over themselves to go up the sliding board. This sliding board is greasy and oily. I'm sure you get the picture. That's how we can view the job market of today. In a time that doesn't seem so far away, there was what we fondly called the American Dream. It went something like this. Go to school. Study hard. Play by the rules and gain an entry into the middle class. There was a time when, if you had any one of specific degrees, you were set for life. Law, engineering or MDs fell into that category. That is no longer the case. It is all too common to find someone who may have been a vice president of a company making six figures one week. The next week, you may find that person making less than half their previous salary. I have actually met several people who fit into that category. Because of all the uncertainty in today's job market, job applicants must be as competitive as possible. Here are 5 strategies that will make you stand out in the competitive crowd.
Strategy 1: Polish your Online Presence
There will always be someone more qualified than you are. One common mistake people make when looking for a job is that they completely ignore their online presence. Prospective employers know how to use search engines just like the rest of us. They can find you on the Internet without you even knowing it. Some corporations even have entire departments that are tasked with searching the online profiles of prospective employees in order to avoid hiring someone they think is not acceptable based on some red flag found in an applicant's online profile. Remember that selfie you took in a rather compromising position? Get rid of it and everything else in your online profile that makes you look unprofessional. Why is this so important? Look at it from the point of view of a potential employer. Paying salaries, benefits and overhead are all expensive. Firing someone can be even more expensive because in all likelihood, there will be attorneys involved, not to mention the lost man hours by an employer that come with trying to fire someone instead of focusing on growing the business. You don't want to do anything that would give a potential employer any reason to second guess hiring you. That's why you want to remove any images or posts that may be deemed unprofessional.
2. Elevator Speech
You walk in to an elevator. The president of the company you want to work for is on the elevator. You have 30 seconds at the most that he should hire you. What would you say? If you think the possibility of this happening to you is remote, think again. Have an elevator speech ready at all times. An elevator speech is exactly what it sounds like. You want to always be ready to explain to a potential employer how you can and will contribute directly to their bottom line starting from day one. It's always a good idea to have data to back up what you say. "In my last position, I led a team which increased profits by 15% through improved asset inventory." A good conclusion may be "I'd love to speak to you in greater detail..." For an example of an excellent elevator speech, see the video belowl
The Power of The Elevator Speech
3. Write an Ebook
Consider the fact that you may be the only person applying for the position you want that actually published a book. By publishing an ebook, you are setting yourself up as an expert on your topic. Researching your chosen career field and the company you want to work for helps you determine what to write about. This is your chance to show your potential employer that you are actively interested and well versed in what they do. With the vast number of free self publishing options available, your opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition has never been greater.
4. Speak The Language
In a movie about the space program, there is a scene in which the astronauts are inside the building at NASA that houses the rockets. Referring to the rocket, someone poses the following question. "What makes this bird go up?" an astronaut answers "Funding makes this bird go up." Note that the answer did not include any mention of science. The implication here is that all the science in the world doesn't matter if there is no funding for it. If we apply that same rationale when considering the job market, it simply means that employers want to know "What can you do for me?" "How are you going to make money for us?" and Why should I hire you as opposed to the other candidates. Regardless of what the specific questions are during the interview, the questions boil down to the essential questions stated in the previous sentence. The struggle with speaking the language of your potential new employer is most prevalent when changing career fields. One example of this phenomenon is someone being discharged from the military.
It is common knowledge that the military has a language all its own. Taken a step further, each branch of the military even has its own unique language and nomenclature. Veterans new to the civilian world of work struggle often because they use words completely foreign to civilians. "Chow Hall" "The meeting is at fifteen hundred..." while common in the military, will most likely scare off potential employers. Profanity can be another issue. In the military, profanity is used more like a conjunction. Sentences are laced with them in the regular course of a military day. This typically does not go over well with a potential employer. Be very careful about using appropriate language when seeking employment.
5. The Micro Resume
The micro resume is your resume highlights on one side of a business card and your contact information on the other side. Have a clear objective and your qualifications on one side of the card without getting it too cluttered. Be ready to hand out your card as the opportunity presents itself.
By using these 5 simple techniques, you will set yourself far ahead of the competition in today's job market. Preparation is key. Stay focused on getting the job. You'll need to be patient and remember to keep your sense of humor. Keeping yourself healthy is also key. You don't want to get sick when the big interview comes your way.
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