Posted on 15 October 2008

Standing Out From the Crowd

If you’re vying for a position at a company, there is a fine line you must walk between looking like everyone else and being so different you don’t fit in at all.

Here’s a few simple ideas I can suggest for getting around the gatekeepers, receiving straight feedback, and (if you’re right for it) the job.

  • Research: Candidates who do their research on their target company immediately jump ahead of the rest when all skills are equal. And, don’t just regurgitate what the website says, dig deeper. Find out competitors, read analyst reports, blogs, insider opinions or comments left around the web by employees. Really look into the organization!A key research item people don’t consider is the people who you may know that work (or have worked) for that company. Respect their time (a.k.a. buy them lunch) and see how they would recommend you move forward with approaching the company.
  • Focus your Message: No joke, I received a resume today that said, “Objective: Any management position anywhere in your company.”  I have no idea what the rest of the resume said because I moved on instantly.Your goal is to coordinate all of the various skills and items on your resume into a cohesive, easilly-digested, sugar-coated tablet of skilled resume goodness. It needs to be an authentic representation of who you are (and what you’ve done), but it also needs to easilly/bluntly/obviously answer the question: “What will do you do for me that nobody else can do?”The most-crucial step of focusing your message is to also focus on your target audiences*! Will you speak to a recruiter first? A hiring manager? A gatekeeper of some other sort? If you’ve done enough research, this should be clear.* I made “audiences” plural on purpose. Don’t think for a second that your messaging to the recruiter and the VP should be the same!
  • Consistently Deliver the Message: Red flags get drawn all over your application when your story seems to change without rhyme or reason.Know your availability, know your schedule, know your salary expectations, and above all, know your elevator pitch — cold.Your presentation to whoever you speak with, on the phone, by email, or in-person, should reflect both the intensity and passion you want to bring to the job, plus your humanity and personality that would make working with you a breeze.Candidates who shift their message, or push too hard with their message, are equally as likely to be turned down as candidates who don’t have a rational message at all.

What other things have YOU done to find success with standing out from the crowd? Please share!

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