How to Stand Out in a Saturated Job Market

Standing out in crowd

With millions of Americans unemployed, the job market is more saturated than ever. So, while you can (and should!) use your network during your job hunt, it’s likely you will be applying to open positions through job boards and ATS systems without a reference or connection.

When that is the case, it’s hard to stand out among the hundreds or thousands of other applicants with similar backgrounds and experience levels. But, that’s not meant to discourage you. Instead, think about why you are the best candidate for the position and sell yourself. Here are a few ways to do that.

Start Specific

Instead of sending resume after resume out to any job that seems remotely interesting, think about what you really want out of your next gig. Once you’ve honed in on a more specific role, start to narrow your search. While this can be slightly jarring since it’s likely there are less open positions, it also means you’re spending your time and effort more wisely.

And in that same vein, don’t send one resume and cover letter out to every job. Tailor them to what that recruiter or hiring manager is looking for. Everyone else is sending out the same resume to every position, so it will show if you put the time in to make yours specific.

Make a Case

And while you’re tailoring your application for the role, also make the argument for why you can, and will, excel in the open role and at the company itself. Recruiters and hiring managers take the time to put together job descriptions that explicitly state what they are looking for, so use that to your advantage.

If there is a line about problem solving or a certain technology that is needed, list that on your resume and talk about a time when you used problem solving skills or that technology to further a team or project in a past role. Citing examples and experiences helps to paint a picture for the reader rather than relying on your word alone.

Reach Out

Even if you don’t know anyone at the company, do your research so you can reach out to someone at the company personally. If the job was posted on LinkedIn, the recruiter’s name may be attached to the posting. Sometimes, the job description tells you who the role will be reporting to, which you can then use to search them on LinkedIn. Company websites also tend to have team or employee pages, so you can find names and departments from there, too.

Then, once you’ve found someone suitable to reach out to, whether it’s the recruiter, presumed hiring manager, or someone in the department you’re interested in, send them a short, succinct email. Be polite, but state exactly what you are hoping to get from the exchange. Cold emailing can be intimidating so start with niceties but be cognizant of the other person’s time. If you make it easy for them to respond, it’s more likely they will.

Finding a new job in an overly competitive employment market can be nerve-wrecking, disheartening, and a myriad of other things. But remember, you bring a unique set of skills to the table—show them off.

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