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9 Tips to Help You Become a Stand-Out Candidate


Job searching takes a lot out of a person. Updating your resume, searching high and low for job availabilities, anxiously wait for a call back (if you even get one, that is), then rinsing and repeating — it’s time-consuming and stressful, even if you ultimately get your desired result. The process is exhausting and completely not fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be good at it. Here’s how to master your job search and build the career of your dreams.

tips to be a stand-out candidate

(Photo Credit: Steven Depolo/Flickr)

Before the Job Search:

Do You Know What You're Worth?

1. Clean up your personal brand online. Before you do anything else, please review your social profiles and ensure that you aren’t jeopardizing your chances of being hired with careless posts and immature behavior. Check out this post and this post to get your online brand in order. You’ll also want to pay close attention to what recruiters are looking for on your social media profiles — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

2. Update your resume/LinkedIn. Studies show that recruiters spend an estimated six seconds viewing your resume, so you’re going to want to make it well worth their while. Start by understanding the most important parts of your resume, and also learn how to optimize your resume and LinkedIn profile to grab the attention of recruiters.

3. Outline your job search objectives. What’s the desired outcome of your job search? Are you simply looking for a filler job … or a lifelong career? Write down what you value in an employer and what you want your career path to look like. How are you expecting to find a promising career, if you have no clue what that looks like for your life? Figure out what exactly you want out of your job search, your everyday work life, and, ultimately, your career.

During the Job Search:

1. Be selective, not desperate. If you want to land a dream career, then you need to know what you want and what you don’t want. Set aside some time to figure out what career best suits your personality, and jot down your strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. Start with the big picture of what you want your life and career to look like, then drill down on which occupations fit into that lifestyle.

2. It’s not all about the money. Many job seekers make the mistake of focusing too heavily on salary instead of which job best suits their skill set. Yes, the money is an important factor when looking for a new job, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Instead, look for a job that fits you and also has a promising earning potential, because the last thing you want is to accept a job with an attractive salary, only to end up hating it after three months. Think long-term so that you’re not stuck in a vicious cycle of jumping from one job to the next throughout your career.

3. Start with who you know, then what you know. The best place to start networking is with your existing connections. Studies show that recruiting new hires from the networks of existing employees proves to be more cost-effective, more reliable, and less time-consuming than hiring a “stranger” candidate, if you will. Therefore, don’t be afraid to tap into your network and leverage your existing relationships to find your dream job. A great place to start connecting with professionals is through LinkedIn, the number one ranked professional networking site. If you want to know how to leverage LinkedIn and make the most of your online job search, then read this post and this post.

For the Interview:

1. Practice makes perfect. Recruit your friends, family, or significant other for a mock interview to better prepare for the actual interview with the employer. Turn to Google or some popular job resource forums/blogs to gather common interview questions for the job you’re targeting.

2. Dress the part. The rule of thumb used to be to dress business formal for all interviews, however, that’s not always the best recommendation, these days. Just as you don’t want to underdress for the part, you also don’t want to overdress, either. It’s perfectly fine to verify with the recruiter or HR as to what the dress code is at the company, then you’ll be able to better gauge what to wear for the interview.

3. Don’t forget to say thank you. Before you leave the interview, always thank the interviewer(s) for their time and consideration. Bring thank-you notes with you on the day of the interview so you can fill them out in the lobby or your car after the interview. The added bonus is that you can personalize the cards and add pertinent information that was discussed in the interview itself (e.g. if you didn’t answer a question to your best ability, address and answer it in the thank-you note). Drop the notes off at the front desk and request that they kindly be distributed to the appropriate parties.

Happy hunting, job seekers!

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What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a job hunter? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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Frank Summerfield
Frank Summerfield

I’m having trouble finding the kinds of companies at which I want to interview: BRAND NEW bioscience companies that can use my skills, and find them BEFORE they have any HR or put out any job requests. I can contact founders on LinkedIn once I find the company, but I would like you to write a piece, such as the one above, on finding companies that are not yet on the radar, ideally the day after they file their incorporation… Read more »

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