Standing out in a Competitive Industry

Standing out in a Competitive Industry

When you’re applying for a job, standing out from the crowd is always a challenge. But, this tough task can suddenly seem insurmountable when you’re applying for an extremely competitive position. Have a read below for 5 actions that are helpful to you standing out in a competitive industry.

However, spending all of your time obsessing over the intense competition will only serve to make you feel more anxious and self-conscious—qualities that definitely won’t help you approach your job hunt and interviews with confidence. So, let go of that intimidation and instead focus on doing what you need to do to separate yourself from the pack.

But, how can you draw positive attention to yourself, when there are hundreds of other people applying to that exact same job? Here are five tips that are sure to help you stand out from that pile of other applicants.

1. Get Personal

Feeling like you’re submitting your materials into cyberspace is always frustrating—especially when you put so much time and effort into them. And, when you know that tons of other people are following that exact same process, it’s easy to feel like you’re in a long line just waiting to draw your number.

This is when making a personal connection can make a huge difference. What exactly does this mean? Start by seeing if you know anyone who currently works for that employer. Whether it’s an old friend or an acquaintance on LinkedIn, having someone who can hand-deliver your resume or put in a good word for you can really help to put your name at the top of the interview list.

If you can’t track down someone who can refer or recommend you, you should still make an effort to be as personal as possible in your application materials. Skip that generic “To Whom It May Concern” line (those letters typically find their way directly to the wastebasket!), and instead do some digging to see if you can find the name of the person you’d be working directly for—or even the hiring manager.

Knowing that you put in the legwork and research necessary to personally address your documents immediately portrays you as a dedicated and resourceful applicant. And, that reputation is sure to put you back at the top of the pile!

2. Improve Your Documents

A resume that’s riddled with typos and grammatical errors. A cover letter that contains the wrong company name. Yes, they’re all sure to make the hiring manager remember you—but not necessarily in a positive light.

It seems basic, but going through your resume and cover letter with a fine-tooth comb is absolutely necessary. Not only is this a best practice when applying for any sort of job, it’s also a surefire way to help you differentiate yourself from the crowd—you wouldn’t believe how much of your competition is immediately discounted, simply because their documents are sloppy.

Aside from just scanning for basic errors, now’s also a great time to polish your materials and make sure that they’re memorable and impactful. Ensure that you include quantifiable achievements in your resume that don’t only tell how great you are at what you do, but show it as well. Start your cover letter off with an engaging and captivating story, rather than that standard, “I’m writing in regards to…” line.

No, you don’t want to send a singing telegram or print your resume on hot pink paper. However, these more subtle tweaks and additions can really help you to be remembered—in a way that’s not eccentric and over-the-top.

3. Go Above and Beyond

I won’t deny that your resume and cover letter are extremely important documents for job search success. But, does that mean they’re absolutely the only things you need in order to land your dream job? Absolutely not.

You should never hesitate to go the extra mile, show some initiative, and share some other materials that a potential employer might care about. Go ahead and send them a link to your portfolio or personal blog. Anything that helps them to get a better sense of who you are as a candidate will benefit you!

You can even take things one step further by completing a sample specifically for that employer. Applying for a social media management position? Pull together a brief example of a social media strategy that you think could work for them. Want to be a data analyst? Share that amazing Excel spreadsheet you built—complicated macros and all. Showing that extra effort demonstrates how interested you are in the position. And, if they actually like the sample work you create? Well, then you’ve already got one foot in the door!

4. Polish Your Social Media Presence

Your work examples and official career documents will only take you so far. After all, employers pretty much expect that you’ll put your best foot forward when it comes to those materials. So, what will they do next? More than likely, hiring managers will look you up on social media.

Believe me, you don’t want to be remembered as the candidate who stars in that video for “Phi Sigma Rho’s Longest Keg Stand” or the applicant who writes scathing reviews of every single ex-boss on Facebook.

So, before even submitting your stuff, ensure you’ve taken the time to clean up your social media profiles. Bonus points for actually taking the time to polish and update your LinkedIn profile while you’re at it!

5. Follow Up

You know all of that intense competition we talked about? Well, it not only overwhelms you—it’s also pretty overwhelming to the hiring manager as well. Suddenly, they have an inbox full of submissions, and it’s up to them to weed out the junk in order to find those diamonds in the rough.

So, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back immediately about that job you’re so excited about. In fact, you likely won’t receive a super timely response. This is why following up is so important.

If you haven’t heard anything (whether that’s a “yes”, “thanks, but no thanks”, or a “we’ve received your submission” email) in about a week or two, feel free to reach out personally and check in on a timeline for a hiring decision. Make an attempt to use the most personalized email address you can find. But, if you can’t hunt one of those down, a general “info” or “careers” address will suffice as well.

Craft a friendly message just asking for an update on the hiring process for that specific position, reiterate your excitement about the opportunity, and thank them for their time. Still radio silence? You’re free to follow up once more. But, after that, it’s time to let it go. We all know there’s a fine line between being persistent and being a pest.

Standing out from the crowd when the job competition is stiff can undoubtedly be tough. But, it’s not impossible! It just involves some thought and creativity. Put these tips to use, and you’re sure to find your way to the top of that resume pile.

Need to get ready for job search success?  Our team at PWU is here to help.

We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching.

Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

3 Tips for Starting a New Job

3 Tips for Starting a New Job

The job search time has been invested.  The efforts are now paid-in-full. Your first day on the job is scheduled. Sweet victory! Now it’s time to focus on exceeding expectations after you join the company. Here are 3 Tips for starting a new job.

1. Make relationships your number one priority.

The first month in a job is an important time to meet new colleagues, both inside and outside of your team. It’s important to continue cultivating those relationships in the months that follow. 

Do this in ways that feel natural to you. If you’re a fan of formal feedback, schedule in periodic feedback chats with your manager and colleagues. If you’d prefer a more casual approach, put in the effort to organize coffee or drinks with coworkers.

Importantly, be sure these efforts are not just focused on your manager or people above you. While it is important to be on the radar of higher-ups, it’s equally critical that others get fair attention. This includes those you work with and who work under you.

Spending all your effort on people above you can be perceived as sucking up—which means you’ll not only not build relationships with other colleagues, but potentially that they’ll distrust your motives. 

2. Write down your goals, and get feedback on them

Your manager might have a very defined set of goals for you, particularly if you’re in a role like sales which typically has very measurable and predetermined targets. If this isn’t the case, however, it’s important to give yourself some goals to work towards. 

Think about it like this: If you haven’t set yourself a target, how will you be able to measure whether you’ve done a good job after six months?

Putting tangible deliverables on paper—even if they change—is a good way to both stay on track as well as to create evidence for your manager and colleagues that you can deliver. This is no doubt helpful for formal reviews but can be equally as useful as a reflection tool to make sure you’re prioritizing the right things. 

You might write your goals in collaboration with your manager and/or colleagues. If you come up with them on your own, however, be sure to seek feedback from (at least) your manager, as you’re still new to the role and want to be sure you’re focusing on the right things. 

Lastly, remember that goals aren’t useful if you simply write them down and forget about them. Schedule yourself reminders to review your progress, either alone or with others, which can give you a chance to re-adjust if things aren’t going as planned. 

3. Keep an open mind and ask questions

While starting a new job can be daunting. There’s a lot to learn, being new to the company also gives you a fresh perspective—and one that can be invaluable to the rest of the team. Since you’re coming in without preconceptions or biases, you may well identify areas for improvement that others have overlooked. 

It’s therefore important that you ask questions when you don’t understand why things are a certain way. Rather than accepting them at face value. Just because a process, standing meeting or team structure exists in a certain way, that doesn’t mean that it’s a big picture ideal.

As a new hire, you’re in a unique place to be able to identify inefficiencies and broken processes. 

That said, approach areas for improvement with curiosity. There’s no room for judgment since there may well be a reason that something is done a certain way. It’s better to appear curious and learn something new than to assume you know the right answer. And potentially be proven wrong.

We hope these 3 Tips for starting a new job help. This can be a very playful time to relax, be yourself and get to know your new work environment.

If you wanted to take it a step further, check our previous entry on Setting Career Goals. We’ve put together 7 helpful tips here: https://powerwritersusa.com/7-success-tips-to-setting-career-goals/

Career Breaks and The Comeback

Career breaks and the comeback

Career breaks occur for all sorts of reasons.  Some may choose to take a step back in favor of dedicated family time.  Others come by a career break following redundancy in the company.  Perhaps you’ve decided to enjoy different experiences, such as traveling or to rediscover your interests. Whatever the reasoning, here are 6 tips on navigating career breaks and the comeback.

Whatever motives got you there, the time may come when you decide to jump back onto the career ladder.

Getting a job can be daunting enough, but it can be even more unnerving once you’ve taken a break from work. You may feel anxious about starting a new job or you may worry that your skills are a little rusty because a lot has changed since you’ve been away from the workplace.

If you feel you’re in this situation, below are six effective tips to help increase your chances of getting hired following a career break.

Six Tips to The Comeback

1. Assess your situation

Many people make the mistake of jumping straight back into the first job they can find. Firstly, if you’re not sure about a job, the interviewer may sense your uncertainty and will be unlikely to take you further in the hiring process.

Secondly, if you secure a job that isn’t suitable for you, you could even find yourself job hopping frequently before you find the right one. It’s therefore important to take some time to assess your situation first and decide what you want to do. Open your mind and remember, what was right for you before your career break, may not be what the best fit is for you now.

2. Update your resume with your career break.

It’s common for a candidate to believe that a gap in their resume will ruin their career.

However, instead of seeing it as a handicap, see it as something positive that can differentiate you from other candidates. If you haven’t been working for a long period of time, don’t hide it. A break can provide lots of benefits that can make you just as, if not more hireable, even if it’s just been a chance for you to take a step back and re-evaluate your future career.

Add all the new skills you may have developed during your break, and explain how these can relate to the job you’re now applying for. 

For example:

Did you take a diploma course specializing in new technology?

Did you do volunteer work and develop your leadership skills, which will help you to lead a team more effectively? 

Or perhaps traveling the world helped to give you a much-needed confidence boost?

3. Network

When looking for your first job after a career break, don’t forget to use your existing connections. Spend some time reaching out to your previous colleagues, clients, friends, and family. Let them know that you’re seeking a new position.

They may have the perfect job for you or be able to point you in the right direction. This is also a good opportunity to prepare any potential references that could support your new job applications.

4. Be prepared for your interview

Before you attend your first interview, make sure you’re prepared to answer questions about your career break. You may be asked why you have a career gap and what you did with your time. Honesty is the first step. Make it clear what you did during your break and why you decided it was the right thing for you to do.

You could tailor your answers to demonstrate how your break will benefit the role you are now applying for. Think critically about some of the concerns an interviewer may have. They may wonder whether you’re ready to get back on the career ladder for example. In this case, explain why you have decided to re-join the workforce, whilst emphasizing your passion, drive, and focus.

5. Look for career returner programs

As well as using job boards to search for jobs, research the various career returner programs that may be available. Deloitte is just one example of an organization that runs this kind of scheme. Their return to work program lasts for 20 weeks and is aimed at men and women who have taken a career break. Whether the break has been for family or other reasons, the scheme provides tailored support and experience to help you readjust to being back at work.

JP Morgan is another business offering a similar scheme. Their global ReEntry Program provides networking and mentorship opportunities to senior executives who are looking to re-join corporate life after taking a career break.

6. Be confident

Whether you’ve been away from work for 12 months or 2 years, getting back into the hiring pool can be nerve-racking. However, the most important thing is that you remain confident in your abilities.

Without confidence, you can easily undervalue what you can offer an employer. Write down your skills and strengths on a piece of paper. Refer to this during your job search, to help give you a boost of energy.

If you’re uncertain, ask friends and family to share their feedback on where your strengths lie. They may offer some suggestions that you had not previously considered.

If you’re concerned that your skills are no longer up-to-date, take a refresher course. Make sure you do your research too. Look at the employer’s website and social media channels.

You should also look at their competitors, read the latest industry news and research industry trends. Knowing you have all the information you need, will help you to be much more confident, especially during interviews.

Everyone has their own career path

Taking a career break is more common than you may think, despite the stigma that is sometimes attached behind how potential candidates will fill that void. Everyone has different career ladders they climb at their own pace depending on what their goals are in life.

So if you’re feeling apprehensive about jumping back into the workforce after a career break, remember these tips to put you on the right path with renewed confidence.

Need to get ready for job search success?  Our team at PWU is here to help.

We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching.

Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

Executive Job Search Strategy

Executive job search strategy

Remember when you were early in your career and you’d apply for a job then go home and wait?  You knew you had all the required skills and experience, so it was just a matter of time. A few days go by and the call comes in. The next day is the interview.  3 days later you have the job and you start next week. Well, those days are long since gone! Nowadays if you don’t have an executive job search strategy, you come close to setting yourself up to fail.

Truthfully, now that you’ve positioned your career higher up the salary chain, those quick job search turnaround days are non-existent. The path to senior and executive-level job placement is an extended process that requires patience and good strategy.

Pro Tip: Manage Expectations

The challenge is to manage expectations that meet the reality of your job search. On-average an executive-level job search requires 4 months to 1 year from the initial point of contact to an actual first day of employment.

The average time it takes to find a job depends on many factors such as:

  • Time of year
  • Geographical demand for your skills
  • Whether you encounter ageism
  • Experience and salary requirements
  • Professional network
  • Job search skills

Time of Year

Q4 is traditionally the slowest hiring period so don’t go rushing into October with high hopes of December placement. However, in contrast, the busiest season for hiring is the first quarter. Manage expectations and remain positive to keep pushing on through slower times of the year.

Geography

All across the country, there are region-specific industry dominants. Depending on your career path, your advancement could depend on your flexibility towards a potential move of house and home.  Consider your chosen industry and region when outlining your timeline for ideal job placement.

Experience & Salary

Aim for your goals, however, do a little research into the companies you are applying to. You want to ensure they have the capacity and need for your set of skills and salary requirements.  Are they in an upswing or decline?  Have their social media channels just blasted news of a hiring fair? These elements can either hinder or expedite the hiring process and in turn, your job search strategy.

Your Network is Gold.

We’ve mentioned this in previous posts and it’s worth rehashing. Your network is solid gold.  At the Senior and Executive career levels, your LinkedIn profile should already be well polished with several years of connections to draw from. When it comes to job searching, this is your ideal go-to for making quick work of landing a job with ease and accuracy. 

Your job search skills.

How’s your job search game?  Ultimately, your drive dictates how fast a job can be obtained.  The steps are defined, now it’s on you to get organized and progress with confidence.

A quick note on ageism.

If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, the chances are good that you’ve seen or experienced age discrimination at work—as two out of three workers between ages 45 and 74 have at some point, according to AARP. From a recruiter’s perspective, there are concerns that older employees not only require increased salaries but will be with the company for a shorter period.   Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for the big picture. 

Ageism can slow your job search process by the assumption that retirement is near.

If you are in a category susceptible to ageism, be prepared to talk about how much longer you plan to work.  Make sure you’re up to speed on technology and current education, as applicable.

Additionally, find the right company by considering what work environment is ideal for your own daily routine. Some company cultures trend younger – startups, for instance- and you may not want to be significantly older than everyone else in the room.  Or that could be exactly what you seek. Either way, due diligence is highly beneficial.

Resume specifics: To show yourself in the best light, hire a professional resume writer to modernize and retool your resume. Seriously, at this stage, a professional is a value-added investment to career advancement.

Extensive work history can begin to look muddled on a resume, as can the skills section after a few decades of career growth. Allowing a professional to optimize your resume, and LinkedIn for that matter will give you the leg up with ATS and recruiter processes.

Here is a link to our schedule at Power Writers USA so you can see availability and book a free 15-min consult. https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

There’s a New Kid in the Office

new hires first day new job

As mentioned in our blog post from last week, the projected hiring numbers are currently on the rise all across the Bay area and throughout Q4. Naturally, this got our office talking about the inevitable situation yet to come. There’s a new kid in the office.

Here you are in that well-planned morning office routine. The computer is on, next up is the daily cup of chamomile. Knowing the office kitchen is empty at this hour, you come around the corner all sleepy and BAM. There’s the new kid standing front and center looking, admittedly, slightly lost. 

 Quickly the mind transitions through a few options

  1. Panic and run back to your desk – nope
  2. Welcome the kid, introduce yourself and offer a tour – nope
  3. Pretend you’re invisible, and with no sudden movement, get your favorite mug under that hot water tap and return to your desk immediately – yep!

To be fair, not all personalities would take this approach.  Some people may actually resort to option 1.  Others are naturally inclined to take on Option 2.

Me, not so much.  I’m that introverted-writer-type who can spend an entire day interacting with my client calls and then happily writing, writing, writing and more writing.

Nonetheless, new hires are imminent.

We’ve all been here at some point and, let’s face it, being the new kid in class is always a little nerve-wracking, whether you’re 13 or 45.

All humor aside, obviously new hires should feel confident to ask colleagues anything necessary to their increased comfort around the office. That being said, part of the stress that comes with starting a new job is avoidable if we prepare ahead of time.

new kid in the office

Now let change the perspective. 

The new kid in the office is looking around the kitchen, lost as all-time and just wants to get that next caffeine fix. There’s a 200-page report parked on his desk demanding attention.

We’ve assembled a few tips on how to ease the office jitters before the first day. The goal is to be so ready that your focus can only be on the job.

Do your homework.

Do research on the organization or institution you’ll be joining — its structure, mission, and overall philosophy. You may be asked to provide feedback or even to come up with some questions and insights of your own during your first week. You’ll want to know as much as you can in order to feel prepared if you’re put on the spot.

Ask questions.

Be confident. You earned the position based on your skills and personality so don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Everyone was the new kid in the office at some point and we all know what it’s like to feel a little lost on the first day.

Take notes.

Your first few days at any new job are a real learning curve, and you’ll be taking in a lot of new information, from the mundane to the really important. Take notes so that can be referenced when a question comes up a few weeks or months down the line.  

Listen and absorb.

You’re stepping into a new role and the first few days and weeks are focused primarily on learning in order to be successful and thrive within the company. Make an effort to actively listen to everyone you come in contact — let them do most of the talking. Understand how the company works and where you will fit in.

Don’t criticize.

If part of your role is to improve things or change the status quo at your new employer, you may want to wait a few days before you start pointing out all the areas that need improvement. Ingratiate yourself with your coworkers first before letting loose with all of the problems you see in the company, or else they may end up feeling bombarded and hostile to any of your new ideas (no matter how beneficial they are to the company).

As always Power Writers USA is here to help guide you through the steps.

Resume Writing, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Profile Optimization and Recruiter Resume Distribution are all available from our team at PWU. Connect with us for a free consultation and resume review!

Job Searching is Marketing.  Do You Know How to Market Yourself?

Market Yourself

Job searching is not a passive activity, it requires energy, focus, time, the assistance of others, and in some cases, luck.  But if you think of yourself like a product, out there competing with other products who are motivated to be swept up by the right organization, you can increase your odds of lining up a great job.  Much like a tangible product in the real market, you, as a product, needs to be marketed in order to be consumed.  You need to market yourself.  Here are some pointers to help you improve your self-marketing abilities.

Know your self

Knowing yourself is critical to helping you define what you want to do by knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are.  A lot of job satisfaction and come from you being in an environment where you can perform well.  Knowing yourself also helps you define your value to a potential employer.  Taking the time to get in touch with your personality, strengths, successes, passions, etc., will help you to clarify your personal message to an employer.  You will have a more focused resume and you will be able to answer interview questions easier and more confidently.

Know your market

Now that you more about yourself, what you are good at, and what your strengths and weaknesses are, you will be able to more clearly define your job search and identify your target market.  Take the time to understand what a target employer is looking for in a new hire.  What are their organizational pains that you can alleviate?  How can your experience make a direct impact on their organization and their bottom line? Knowing who your audience is will help you understand how you can approach a potential employer and how you can relate your personal message to the employer in a way that will engage and excite them.

Have the right packaging

When you buy something at the store, do you pay attention to the packaging?  Whether you realize it or not, you do.  And it is very important.  As a jobseeker who is marketing themselves to potential employers, you want to make sure that you too have the right packaging.  Consider what is visibly apparent to an employer, or even a recruiter; namely your resume and your online presence (LinkedIn Profile, Facebook, etc.).   Take the time to refine your resume, or work with a professional resume writer, to make sure you are dialed in.  Good resume writers will know what questions to ask to make sure you are including the right content, they also know how to optimally format your resume for visual appear and to help pass through ATS.  Many resume writers can help you with your LinkedIn profile as well;  check out our recent blog on that.  Bottom-line, make your resume and LinkedIn profile stand out as they will be your first impression.  Your interview will be your second first-impression if that makes sense.  So be ready for that as well!  Make sure you are well groomed and dressed appropriately for the position you are after.

Develop your people skills

Take the time to read some refresher articles on being a good communicator, and how to listen more effectively as it will pay off in your job search.  Communicating well with recruiters, networking associates, those you may conduct informational interviews with can help you get closer to that job you want.  Part of this process is knowing how to talk about yourself so make sure you take the time to know yourself first.

Know how to interview

Marketing yourself doesn’t stop once you’ve gotten a callback for an interview.  This is where you need to really shine to get an edge over your jobseeking competition.  But do you know how to interview?  We’ve written several blogs on the matter including 5 Ways to Woo Hiring Managers During The Interview Process and 7 Steps to Prepare for Your Job Interview in addition to the information we provide there is a plethora of books, videos, blogs and seminars available out there.  We also offer interview coaching for those looking for some personal feedback.  A few keys are to really understand the position you are interviewing for, being prepared, and listening well.

Be Proactive

This is a pretty obvious point but is often overlooked.  You must take charge of your job search and be active with it if you truly desire to make a positive change in your career.  It’s been said that luck rewards the hard working, and we feel this is true.  Send emails, make connections, pick up the phone and get yourself out there.  Going back to the analogy of you being a product, your activity can be the difference between you as an item that sits on a shelf waiting too long for someone to find it or being an item on an end-cap with high visibility that is sure to catch people’s attention.

Make a plan

This last point is very important.  Take the time to make a plan.  We are all busy people and making a plan can give our job search focus and can help us realize our progress.  Decide what your end goal is and how much time you can dedicate each day or week to reaching your goal.  Set a schedule for working on your resume, contacting recruiters, sending out job applications, and practicing your interview skills.  Work with Define your progress by blocks of time (30 minutes a day), or by units (2 applications a week) etc.  Keep a visual calendar and mark off each goal of your plan or each day that you make progress, it is encouraging and will push you closer towards getting the results you deserve.

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Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWU is here to help you along the way with Resume Writing Services, Cover Letter Writing, CV’s, LinkedIn Profiles Updates, and more.  Contact us now for a free consultation and resume evaluation!