Job Hunting Tips to Stand Out in a Competitive Market

Posted on 04-21-2023
Job hunting tips to help you stand out

If you’re looking for a new job, knowing the best job-hunting tips will help give you the edge over other applicants in today’s competitive market.

Top Job Hunting Tip – Identify Your Goals

As executive recruiters helping thousands of executive job seekers, we have found that most people start their job hunt without a clear plan of attack. Unfortunately, not having a plan makes it take longer to find a position.  
The first step in any executive job search should be to spend time reflecting on your ideal next position. 
Make sure you consider each of these items: 

  • Position scope and advancement opportunity 
  • Quality of life 
  • Team and boss 
  • Organizational reputation and financial health 
  • Compensation and benefits package 
  • Corporate culture 

Write down what your optimal position looks like. 

Then, consider which aspects of your “wish list” you’re willing to compromise on if needed. 

Becoming clear on your top motivators will allow you to evaluate a job opportunity more objectively. 

Create a Job Search Plan

Once you’ve pinpointed your objectives, create a spreadsheet with companies of interest, their contact details, and open positions that match your job search criteria. 

Next, figure out how much time you can realistically devote each day to researching potential employers and reading through entire job descriptions of roles you’re interested in applying for.  

Update Your Resume and Cover Letter

When updating your resume it might be tempting to use a fancy resume template two-column designs, non-standard sections and layouts, creative-looking fonts, and/or bar graphs to indicate skill levels. However, our experience tells us that unless you work in a creative field, you should stick with a traditional resume format.  
We have yet to see an infographic style resume that doesn’t make us work harder than necessary to find the information we need.  
Though our team hand reviews resumes, many organizations first enter them into an applicant tracking system.  
Our research tells us that most applicant tracking systems struggle with two column designs, non-standard fonts, graphics, and tables.  
While they continue to improve their accuracy over time, it’s simply too big of a risk for your resume to look like a jumbled mess or the system will decide you’re not a match for the position because it couldn’t parse out the relevant content from your resume. 
The best resumes appeal to the human eye AND are easily readable by applicant tracking systems.  
Format your resume with bulleted lists of quantified accomplishments and avoid the infographic resume trend. 

It’s also important to pay attention to detail; we recommend using the Chrome plugin Grammarly to avoid misspellings and grammatical errors that could cost you an interview, so double-check everything before submitting.  

Finally, remember the cover letter. Use this space to explain why you’re passionate about the job opportunity and how your skillset would benefit their organization specifically. Be sure to address common interview questions like “why do you want this job?” within the body of the cover letter, too – it shows initiative and demonstrates that you have researched the company.  

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

It’s critical that your LinkedIn profile not only contains the basic career information, but also reflects who you are as a professional and a leader. Ensure your profile includes these essential elements: 

  • A professional-looking headshot 
  • Up-to-date contact information 
  • An eye-catching headline that conveys what you do and offer potential employers in 120 characters or less 
  • A well-written summary 
  • A description of your current employer (or last one) and role 
  • Employment history since graduation 
  • Evidence of your value to employers 
  • Honors and awards 
  • Your academic history 
  • Any extracurricular leadership positions 
  • Solid recommendations 
  • Frequently updated content such as your own papers, presentations, videos, interviews, articles, and blog posts

Network Effectively

As an executive job seeker, it’s important to develop relationships with key contacts in your industry and leverage them to find opportunities. Compile a roster of individuals who may be able to assist in your job hunt, such as former colleagues, past employers, or even relatives. Reach out to these contacts via email or phone and ask if they can refer you for positions open at their companies or at other organizations.  

Connect with executive recruiters in your field and reach out directly through LinkedIn outlining your career experience and why you would make an ideal candidate for their clients’ needs.  

Also, consider joining LinkedIn or Facebook groups related to your field, giving you access to valuable resources such as networking events, job postings, and discussion forums.  

Utilize Job Boards

Job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn Jobs are an excellent way for executive job seekers to find their next opportunity.  

As you review each job posting, pay close attention to any keywords or phrases used in the description; this will be important when crafting your resume or cover letter later in the process.  

Additionally, if there are certain skills listed as requirements, make sure that yours match up accordingly so that you stand out among other applicants vying for the same position.  

Line Up Your References

Having a reliable group of references to attest to your work experience is essential for successful job searching. It’s important to ensure your references are prepared and willing to speak on your behalf.  

Make a list of the people who can attest to your competencies in the workplace, such as prior supervisors, associates, tutors, or instructors that have witnessed you working.  

Let them know that they may be contacted by potential employers shortly regarding yourself as a reference. Make sure to get their permission before providing their contact information.  

Prepare for Interviews

Putting in the time to prepare for each interview is going to give you a leg up going into it. Make sure your prep includes these: 

  • Company Research – Review the organization’s online presence, reports, and articles about them to learn their values and culture. You’ll gain insight into how they operate and have talking points to use during the interview.   
  • Testing Your Technology – With many interviews now being conducted online via video calls, it’s crucial that you test out any technology needed beforehand such as cameras, microphones or headsets – if applicable – so there aren’t any technical issues when it comes time for your meeting with potential employers.  
  • Mock Interviews – Consider doing a mock interview with someone who can provide feedback on how well prepared you are for real-life scenarios in an interviewing setting, such as body language or word choice, etc. Practicing in this way can be very beneficial because it allows room for improvement without worrying about making mistakes during an actual job interview, where first impressions matter immensely.  
  • Interview Suit – Don’t forget to try on your suit before attending an official job interview. Make sure everything fits properly and looks presentable, from shirt collars to trouser length – check every detail. Dressing professionally is especially important if interviewing virtually since what appears on camera matters as much (if not more) than what would appear in person when meeting face-to-face with potential employers.  

Mind Your Mindset

While job hunting can feel like a full-time job, it’s important to also do things you enjoy as well, such as taking walks outside, listening to music, or catching up with friends who can help boost your spirits.  

Remember: being unemployed doesn’t mean being unproductive; use this time wisely by developing new skills or pursuing hobbies that will broaden your horizons and provide further evidence of your value as an employee when applying for jobs.  

Beyond Job Hunting Tips

Using all these job-hunting tips will keep you focused and organized towards landing that dream executive position.  

However, if you find that you need extra expert advice on any of these areas, consider our 1-on-1 executive career coaching to accelerate your job search. 

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