Whether you are currently working and are looking to make a change, or you've lost your job and are eager to get back into the workforce, this is a challenging economic climate. You can find a job but you need to do things that your peers are not. Let me share with you four things that will help you stand out:
1.) Stop taking it all personally. It's frustrating to apply for positions and not get any responses. The truth is hiring managers and recruiters are being inundated with resumes and applications right now. The fact that they haven't replied to your application has nothing to do with you. By personalizing the situation, you waste time and energy, often with the end result of feeling bad about yourself. Realize that if you want to stand out from the competition, you'll have to stop wasting time and focus instead on the next best action to take.
2.) Ask for feedback. Find out how you can improve your chances of being hired. When you get those opportunities to speak to employers, make sure you ask for specifics: Do you have feedback on my resume? How did I do in the interview? What advice do you have for me? What can I do differently to stand out next time? Many employers welcome this as an opportunity to help someone out.
3.) Be proactive. Don't just apply for jobs online or e-mail your contacts asking for leads. Pick up the phone and make sure you follow up each contact. Call your network of friends and family and remind them of what you are looking for, and ask if they are willing to help. Be sure to ask for focused assistance. Don't just ask them to pass on any leads they come across. Instead ask if they have contacts in the field you are interested in or a company you would like to know more about. Will they make an introduction? If you've had an interview and are wondering what happened, stop wondering, pick up the phone, and find out. By following up, you demonstrate initiative and remind a busy hiring manager who you are.
4.) Get out of the house and meet people. You may feel uncomfortable with the whole idea of networking. Here's another way to look at it. It's about getting to know people and having them get to know you. Don't go to functions because you feel you should. Find gatherings of people with whom you have an affinity: alumni, special interest clubs, exercise groups, community associations, classes, etc. Make it your intention to simply meet people -- don't weigh yourself down with expectations! Be open to people and to having them get to know you. We help people we like. For someone to like you, they need to get to know you. Be interested in people and what's going on in their lives. Give yourself the gift of sharing something about yourself. If you keep the focus on building relationships you'll naturally connect with people who will want to help you and vice versa.