Lynda Fraser, Vice President, Human Resources Contract Division, Solomon Page Group
Small things can pack a big punch when you want to stand out from your competition. These few simple strategies can focus attention to where you want it to be – on you!
Polish Your Resume: If you want to be viewed as a professional, then your marketing collateral (your resume) needs to be polished and professional. This means a total absence of spelling or grammatical errors. You’re probably thinking, “well everyone knows that.” Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean they follow through and proof carefully. Make sure your vocabulary reflects the level of the position you seek and is appropriate to the culture you work in. “Good enough” just isn’t good enough to set you apart.
Demonstrate Your Value: Highlight the impact you have made in your various positions. A simple series of bullet points that could have been lifted straight from a position description is more an indication of ‘time served’ than anything else. Include significant achievements and accomplishments. What sets you apart from the dozens of other candidates? What demonstrates that you have initiative or a work ethic that signifies effort and commitment?
Seek Help When You Need It: Not everyone is a good writer. If you know this is not your strength, ask for help from someone who does this well. Your resume is not a novel, but you want to make sure that your story, employment history, and abilities are articulated in a thoughtful and coherent way.
Fast Forward . . . You Have an Interview: Congratulations! And now you have another chance to stand out! What counts here is your presentation (well dressed and well groomed), communication (poised, open, direct and engaged) and your obvious preparation (you have done your research on the company, the position and key people, you have intelligent questions to ask and have anticipated questions you are likely to be asked). Again, seek help if you need it. If you’re concerned about being nervous, don’t hesitate to practice in front of a mirror or use a tape recorder to understand how you sound. Ask your recruiter or someone whose opinion you value to run through questions you think might pose a problem or to help you articulate the points you would most like to get across.
Follow Up: Understand that the interview doesn’t finish when you walk out the door. A short but sincere thank you note can seal that first impression. Being able to refer to a point covered during the meeting will help demonstrate your engagement during the interview. And if you are working with a recruiter, be sure to follow up. Building a relationship with your recruiter can be a powerful advantage for both the short and long term.
It is a highly competitive landscape out there and a tough one in many ways. While there is nothing revolutionary about these tips to stand out, you would be surprised how few people take the extra effort required to be noticed and to be remembered. The amount of time required is small for potentially great reward. Someone once said “Life is not a matter of chance… it is a matter of choice.” Choose to make your chances count!