Tips to Help YOU Stand Out from the Competition!
Whether you realize it or not you are constantly in competition with others. Don’t believe me? Here are some examples of what I mean:
If you are searching for a job, you are competing with others for the same potential job openings. According to Monster.com, 29 resumes are uploaded to their site every minute. If I did the math correctly, that is more than 15 million people a year who are posting resumes to the site. What is even more mind-blowing is the fact that Monster.com is only one of many sites that exist. Point: Lots and lots of competition!
No matter where you work you are always striving for the best opportunities. Better hours, more pay and greater benefits are just some that come to mind. I am sure you won’t be surprised to learn that your fellow co-workers want those same awesome opportunities. In fact, you have competition on two fronts: inside and outside of your organization. Those individuals that already work with you who want what you want, and those on the outside who are going the extra mile to obtain a job there as well.
If you are in school, you are competing with fellow students for the highest grade point average (G.P.A.) Why? Because the perception is if you have a very high G.P.A. you will go far. Of course, having a high G.P.A. is not a given for success, but nevertheless, a lot of weight is still given to it. The thought goes like this, a stellar high school G.P.A. could secure college admission and potential scholarship funds. A great college G.P.A. could result in internship opportunities and future job offers. Ironically, there are other indicators of future potential and success, however, despite those other indicators, the G.P.A is still a prominent factor and used by many to assess the masses when applying for schools and jobs. According to the National Education Center for Statistics, approximately 20.4 million students were expected to enroll in American colleges and universities last fall. The 2018 numbers are not out yet, but imagine, 20.4 million is for just one year. Again, lots of competition.
What is the point?
We are competing all the time, even when we don’t realize it. Sometimes we get caught up in our own little world focused on the things we desire that we forget others are watching and striving for those same things. It is no wonder we are surprised when things don’t work out as planned. We weren’t expecting the competition.
For this article, I focus on the career side of competition, looking specifically at two areas: those who are seeking a job and those who are seeking career progression.
From a job search perspective, you have found the job and are ready to apply. However, you know that you need a stellar application package to stand out from the rest of the applicants. Here are some tips to help your application package shine!
Create a TAILORED resume. A tailored resume is more than just copying words from the job listing, it means tailoring it specifically, so it represents you. You want the reviewer to look at it and think, “I have found the perfect candidate.” You do that by including pertinent information about you so when the hiring recruiter sees it they see you as a person. Remember, you are not just getting hired for a job, you are being welcomed into a work family. These are people you are going to spend a lot of time with, 8-10 hours of time a day, so they want to know you are a good fit. So, think of your resume as a document in your personal branding toolkit; a marketing piece that tells the story of YOU.
Seek Feedback. Share your resume with others. This is tough because a lot of us, yes, myself included do not like to be told we missed the mark. However, in the case of your resume, it is better to find out from trusted friends that you missed than lose out on a job and never know why. So, go ahead and ask people you know who will give you an honest opinion of what they think. You can ask them whatever you want to know about your resume but be sure to include the three questions below:
– What is my expertise?
– What types of jobs do you think I am applying to, based on the language in my resume?
– What stands out most on my resume?
The responses to the three questions, will tell you if you hit the mark or not.
Be Consistent. Make sure all your documents match. What do I mean? If the application package calls for a resume, a cover letter, a reference list, and a salary sheet then all documents should have the same look and feel. Same heading, font, font size, and style. It is kind of like a stationary package for a business. Business cards, letter head, and presentation materials have the same colors, logo, fonts etc. It all goes back to branding and the brand is YOU.
Lose the Unwanted. Do not include things in your application package that were not requested. In the case of the application more is not a good thing. For instance, do not include references on your resume. If they want references, they will ask for them in the application. If you are filling out an actual form, there will be room to list references. If they require references but you are not filling out a form-based application, then you would simply create a separate document containing your references and include that with your resume as part of the application package.
Apply Early. Although a job posting may list a deadline a month out, apply as soon as you see the listing. Many organizations, to include the federal government, will on occasion only take the first 100 resumes or the initial 10% received. Why? Because they receive hundreds, even thousands of resumes. It is hard to go through them all. Hence, they believe the first 100 or 10% are the most eager and determined applicants so odds are they will probably be able to find a good fit. I am not saying the process is perfect but that is what happens often so apply early!
You are happy to have a job, but after a couple of years you have decided that you need to move ahead if you are going to make those career milestones you have set for yourself. You start assessing the career situation. You like your job but need a promotion to stay on track. What are you doing to stand out from your co-workers, so you are the person leadership wants to promote to the next level? What will make you stand out over others if you choose to leave your current organization and go to another? Below are some tips to consider to keep you moving forward in your career no matter the scenario.
Communicate with Leadership. Talk to your direct leadership to inform them of your plans. All too often people get passed over for promotion because they never told their supervisor of their interest. Since a discussion never took place the supervisor assumed the individual was happy with the current situation and was not seeking other opportunities. Therefore, when a position arose, the individual was not considered. Do not make that mistake; have the conversation. Communication is key.
Be Enthusiastic – Go the Extra Mile. Take on extra responsibilities to help showcase your diverse talent. Yes, it will require extra time and effort but if you are working for an organization led by a great leader, your efforts will be recognized, and your enthusiasm will help you go far. Per Charles Schwab, the secret to his success was enthusiasm. Pretty impressive coming from a man who is, according to Forbes, worth $8.2 billion.
Do What You Say. Do what you say you are going to do. You would think this would be a no brainer, but you would be surprised to learn how many times someone promises something but doesn’t deliver. Sometimes people get themselves into a situation where they say things they think the boss wants to hear and then forget what they said. Do not be that person. If you say something, mean it and then do it. You will be surprised how quickly you will build a reputation for getting things done if you follow through as promised. And, that good reputation will reach outside your current organization too so if you do decide to move on to greener pastures, you will be welcomed elsewhere without issue. I did not realize how true that statement was until I spoke to a friend in sales. She decided to leave her current position. She resigned and within 30 minutes she received a job offer at a competing firm. I was surprised by how quickly news traveled but discovered that most people in sales in her area of expertise and geographic location have worked together at one time or another so word, just like news, travels fast. She told me if you are good in sales everyone knows but if you are bad and don’t follow through everyone knows that too. Just goes to show, it is imperative to follow through and keep your word always because you never know what the consequences could be, good or bad. Never burn a bridge if you can help it.
Build Credibility. If you have decided to leave your organization, be sure to prepare in advance of the departure. If you do not have a position waiting for you, then spend a little time building up some credibility before you go because that effort will help you stand out from the competition. For instance, use LinkedIn to help you make connections (networking), to demonstrate your expertise (write blog articles), and apply for jobs (Easy Apply option). If you are active and connecting, people will see it. It makes it easier when applying for a new job later because people will refer you, and potential employers may even recognize your name.
Reputation Matters. As I said earlier, never burn a bridge! You have worked long and hard to build a good reputation to be a professional worthy of respect. Do not ruin that by making hasty decisions like leaving a job over a simple disagreement or staying in a job without any advancement potential. Stay true to you and plan accordingly no matter the situation. Having a professional reputation built on integrity will always help you stand out from the competition. People are drawn to people they can trust. And, individuals are more apt to refer people they trust.
As you have discovered, sometimes it is the little things that matter the most and they are often the easiest things to do. Attention to detail, enthusiasm and credibility go a long way when it comes to standing out from the competition. I see you shining already!
As always, cheering for you, friends!
Dr. Jeannine Bennett is the founder and CEO for Vision to Purpose, an organization dedicated to helping individuals and businesses succeed through the offering of tailored career, life and business solutions.
Need a resume writer? How about a career coach? Perhaps a business consultant? Look no further, Dr. Bennett and the Vision to Purpose team can help! You can learn more about Dr. Bennett and Vision to Purpose by visiting www.visiontopurpose.com.