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I'm no stranger to the world of unemployment, but when I was released from my role as event manager at Oracle earlier this year, I was still panicking. With so many people around the world fired at once, I was concerned about how I would compete with other job seekers in the market.
Fortunately, I got an offer from a major technology company within two weeks. A week later I was offered a job at a multinational bank.
Was it because I'm an exceptional candidate? Far from it. That was because I took effective steps in my job search, and so did you. In my experience, you can take the following steps to stand out:
1. Throw a wide network
This seems obvious, but different people have different ideas about what it looks like to apply for "many" roles. Some think 10 is a lot.
I applied for 97 jobs on LinkedIn alone. This excludes all emails that I have sent with my resume to people to whom I have been referred.
It would be helpful to think about all the skills you have, including those that you did not use in your last role, and you will be surprised that you can apply these skills to a variety of careers. Once you've done this, all you have to do is make a few changes to your resume and click the "Apply Now" button.
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2. Do your homework
When people tell me that they are between two jobs, they often say, "When you hear about vacancies, please think of me." The problem is that the request is too vague and open. Even the nicest people will immediately forget it, simply because they have different priorities.
What you need to do is ask specific questions when contacting people to find a favor. Before contacting anyone, visit the company's website, find out what roles are available, and then ask if they can refer you to the right recruiter. People are more likely to help you if you have made it as easy as possible for them.
3. Move quickly and honestly
Nobody likes to look desperate, but it makes no sense to talk around.
When the radio station I worked for closed down in 2015, nine of us were suddenly looking for gigs in a highly saturated market. We approached the same few station managers from other companies. While most of my former colleagues tried to invite these managers to lunch, I tried it more directly and told them exactly what had happened. A station manager immediately told me that he had no vacancies, but his sister station. I planned to meet the manager at the sister station and was immediately hired.
If you've recently lost your job, hiring managers will understand your situation and shouldn't be hard to explain yourself. But what you need to do is act quickly, because now more people are fighting for the same vacant roles than before. Make sure you have your updated resume and sample portfolios ready for you to have on hand when needed. Don't forget – you sleep, you lose.
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4. Show them who you are as a person
A friend of mine recently told me that she answers interview questions by thinking about what the interviewer wants to hear. I don't agree with this method at all.
When you get an interview, it means that you already qualify for the role on paper. A company would not schedule time to speak to you unless you meet the basic requirements. What sets you apart from other candidates is your soft skills.
Candidates usually try to prove that they have soft skills by deleting keywords like "team player", "problem solver" and "strong work ethic", but soft skills are so much more. You need to show hiring managers that you are someone they love to be with. Sometimes a warm smile or a small comment about a hobby that you are really enthusiastic about is enough. It is best to stay professional, but it would also do you good to mention a song you can't get out of your head, or a sport you miss to play.
Finding a job is challenging, sometimes daunting, and it's easy to get discouraged – especially in today's economic climate. But who knows? Maybe you are just one step away from your dream job.
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