If you’re looking for a job, you’re in a competition. No matter what field you want to work in, the chances are somebody else is looking for the same thing. You can’t both get the position. So what can you do to make yourself the most attractive candidate?
First of all, make sure your resume stands out. The resume is a critical tool for any job seeker, and most people know that. But put yourself in the hirer’s shoes for a moment. He or she has spent a long time pouring over resume after resume. No matter how diligently they read every application they get, after a while, all resumes start to look alike. This doesn’t mean you should be flashy or “creative.” That could backfire. What it does mean is that you should be clear about what you can do for the company. Emphasize concrete achievements. Make transferable skills obvious. Find out what the employer needs and tailor your resume to highlight how your experience has prepared you to fulfill those needs.
Second, always be networking. Maybe you think “networking” sounds tiresome, pushy, or just plain bewildering. The truth is that networking is nothing more than open communication. Talk to your family, friends, and neighbors about what you do and what you’re interested in. Create an “elevator speech,” a two-minute summary of your skills and goals that’s clear, direct, and short enough to keep listeners interested. Everyone you know should hear that speech. Job leads can come from surprising places. Stay positive; doing so can be difficult during the frustrating job-hunting process, but you want to create a good impression in the minds of those you interact with.
Finally, make the most out of interviews. Nobody ever walked out of a job interview thinking, “I wish I hadn’t been so prepared.” Be ready for the questions you’ll likely be asked. Rehearse your answers ahead of time, and keep rehearsing them until they no longer sound rehearsed. If there’s anything on your resume that seems like a weakness, be prepared to explain why it really isn’t. If you have any strengths you want to highlight, do so. If you have any questions about the job that’s being offered, find a time to ask. You’ll come across as genuinely interested and make yourself more memorable.