Five Ways to Increase Your Competitive Edge in the Job Market
Have you ever wished to have a secret formula that is guaranteed to put you ahead of the competition? Of, course! In truth, there are numerous ways you can increase your chances in standing out among stiff competition in your quest for greater career opportunities. The five tips below are simple, yet extremely powerful in giving you a below-the-radar edge over the competition.
1. Create a job search only email address on Gmail
Creating a job search-dedicated email account takes less than 5 minutes and should be done on a platform that is quickly accessible from virtually any device. Gmail is a great choice as it is generic, has quick response and text prediction features and seamlessly integrates with Google contacts.
There are two great reasons to have a search-dedicated email. First, you can (and should) have an email address that is professional and doesn’t distract from your résumé. It’s best to use only a version of your name and refrain from including numbers. For instance, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org are clean and simple. Refrain from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org as it a) doesn’t flow as well and b) may inadvertently reveal age information – or assumed age.
The second great reason for a dedicated email has three parts: focus, organization and timeliness. Having a dedicated email allows you to keep all job-related emails in one place, reduces the chance of missing an important response from a prospective employer among a string of spam emails, and you’ll know any new mail notifications are directly tied to search-related activities!
2. Update your voicemail message
Most people set up their mobile voicemail when they start with a new service carrier and forget about it. Sometimes it’s either set to an automated message with just the number or, gasp, not even activated. Every encounter with a prospective employer should showcase you at your best. While most recruiters will email to set up a time to chat, some will pick up the phone. You also have the risk of missing a scheduled call and the recruiter getting your voicemail. The original voicemail message you recorded in college or “mailbox full” may not be the first engagement we wish prospective employers to have with us!
Make your voicemail message clear, descriptive and short. Be sure to record it free of background noise, speak clearly and at a medium pace. Greet the caller with a simple “Hello” and something like, “You have reached the mobile phone of John Smith. I’m sorry I’ve missed your call. Please leave your name, number and the purpose for your call and I will contact you at my first opportunity. Thank you!” Once you’ve recorded the message, listen to it to ensure there are no glitches and your voice is clear and at good volume. Have a friend or family member call as well.
3. Convert core resume to pdf and put on phone and in a cloud-based space
Take a few minutes to store a PDF copy of your resumé in multiple locations. Email it to yourself, store it on your mobile phone and put it into at least one cloud-based storage area such as OneDrive, GoogleDrive or DropBox. When job hunting, most people think of the process as a repetitive cut and dried web search – apply / send résumé – wait cycle. However, you should always be prepared for the unexpected. Even in our tech-based society there are times your résumé may not be as readily available as you might think. If you’ve applied using an ATS (applicant tracking software) the recruiter might have difficulty quickly retrieving your résumé depending on the platform. What’s more, unexpected opportunities to connect with a prospective employer can happen in the most unlikely places! You’re going to really impress that recruiter or spur of the moment connection if you can instantly provide your résumé. Your professionalism and proactivity scores will be off the charts before you even officially interview!
4. Choose and prep two interview outfits
Unless your closet solely consists of brand-new professional threads, putting together the ideal interview look is time consuming and stressful. Unfortunately, nearly everyone waits until that first critical in-person interview is scheduled before they begin to evaluate and assemble their “look.” Yes, different companies have different dress codes. However, we tend to choose opportunities whose cultures align with our comfort zone which means most of your prospects will likely have similar dress parameters. While we can’t plan for everything, having at least two complete outfits chosen, clean, pressed and accessorized ahead of time will greatly reduce some of the pre-interview jitters. Your free time leading up to the interview can be used to review your experience, research and make notes for that important first meeting. Plus, knowing you have yourself prepared for a last-minute invitation is a great confidence booster!
5. Write and practice your elevator pitch
Nearly everyone dreads the “Tell me about yourself” question. Whether you are actively seeking new opportunities or just keeping your options open, you’ll want to be able to deliver a confident and natural answer. While most associate this question with a first interview, it can also broadside you at any moment. Places where it could crop up include professional conferences, workshops, association and community events, even a chance encounter with leadership in your current organization! Take the time to jot down what makes you special in your profession, then practice saying it so it sounds natural. Is it your passion for finding a certain solution? Do you constantly seek ways to increase your knowledge? The key is to focus on your value as a professional and what sets you apart. It should only be 3045 seconds in length.
The core truth about growing a career is that to do so you will always be competing. The goal is to come out ahead of competition. Basic experience and education alone are not enough if the others in the race have similar or more of those than you. Being prepared and increasing your professional presence through following these 5 genius tips will give you an edge that could quite possibly be lifechanging!
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