How To Increase Your Chances Of Getting A Job

by Jacques Sprenger on 2012-05-0115

Find out what people are doing to increase their chances of snagging the job they want.

We live in a society in which most people fear being different, fear making waves and thus fail to exhibit their unique qualities. In this jobless era, however, the few and the bold (to paraphrase a military slogan) are the ones who will get the good positions available. For let’s not forget a very important fact: Companies are hiring, albeit not as much as usual. For every open job, there are 250 people (OK, I exaggerate; it’s more like 4 per opening) asking for an interview and/or plopping their resumes in the company’s inbox at a job fair. So how can one differentiate oneself from all the other applicants?

How To Get A Job: Think Outside of the Box!

Creativity and being different are two important qualities in today’s difficult job market. I read somewhere about the example of a young graduate who had a very creative (as in “I like Alice in Wonderland”) resume that mirrored her interests and priorities. I wouldn’t recommend that approach to everybody, of course. Some jobs require sticking to conservative mores, and a resume formatted to look like a movie ad may not go well in some circles (banking industry, anyone?). However, the concepts of clarity and courage are essential to impress would be recruiters, simply because these very qualities are going to benefit the company’s bottom line. You must however find creative ways to convince them that you’re the ideal employee for them.

When trying to secure a job, you may want to go “above and beyond” what’s expected in order to get the attention of a prospective employer. What are some things you can do to make yourself stand out and pass the test? Show just how different you are and make yourself stand out. If you’re applying for a job, let them know what you can do for them and what kind of value you’ll add to their enterprise.

Here are some great tips to help you land a job:

1. Build something online to promote yourself.
Don’t be shy: put yourself out there. You can create an online portfolio which talks about who you are and what you’ve done and accomplished. In the past, a resume and a cover letter may have granted you a coveted job interview. But if you’d like to stand out, think about building a really great website that’s dedicated to your work and achievements. Some ideas for your online professional profile: you can include relevant research, your commentary on the company, business or industry you’re interested in working in and your resume (or CV). Impress your would-be employers before you set up your interview with them!

2. Participate in networks.
If building a website or creating a blog is a bit more work than you’d like to do, you can also use sites like LinkedIn.com that can help you to network professionally. If you haven’t done so already, join LinkedIn and participate in the forums related to your area of expertise. Social networks are an excellent way to get noticed when you make thoughtful comments. You can also ask the group members if they know who is hiring.

Employers love to Google the candidates they are considering for a job. That’s true — who doesn’t? ;) But make sure you are putting your best foot forward rather than giving the wrong signals to a recruiter or employer. Some things to watch out for: be careful how you use social media to get your name out there: remember that your online profile and footprint will probably be on the web forever and anything that you reveal online may be used in your favor or against you. Be careful how you use your Twitter and Facebook accounts to make sure that whatever you say does not come back and bite you later.

For more ideas, check out these creative ways to find employment.

3. Make sure you have a healthy credit score.
Get a credit check. Why? Because 35% of employers check your credit score as a way to gauge how responsible you are. A credit score can reflect well or poorly on you. It’s actually legal for employers to do this if they let you know about it in advance.

In the past, we benefited from a very strong job market and an era when workers were in high demand for almost any position under the sun. During such times, your credit score may not be scrutinized so closely. During a slower job market, employers will be more discriminating, so make sure to take a look at your credit information to find out how you may come across to hiring managers.

You can check AnnualCreditReport.com for free reports or look at sites such as those we describe in our article on how to get free credit scores.

4. Have relevant references.
Make sure that you have at least one reference who comes from the industry of your focus. Connections who can help you with your job hunt include former professors and people from professional organizations that you may want to join. These industry organizations may actually allow you to join at student rates. Go ahead and sharpen your networking skills!

5. Prepare for your first contact with the hiring company.
If you were lucky enough to be invited for an interview, prepare as you have never prepared before (maybe check out our job interview techniques!). Find out all you can about the company’s products and strategies and if you are an experienced manager or technical person, try to find something specific you can do to improve their products and or bottom line. Case in point: a software designer looking for work sent a list of 3 mistakes he found in his potential employer’s software product and was hired on the spot.

6. Dust off your rolodex.
During your 20 years at Company X, you should have made a list of clients, providers and colleagues. Contact them one by one and don’t be ashamed to ask for help in finding a job. They can provide you with valuable leads.

7. Focus on those employers you’d really like to work for.
Do not shoot out a thousand resumes, hoping that one will bite. This is not fishing or gambling. Concentrate instead on 10 companies you know you’d like to work for and in which you can make a difference. By the way, a cover letter may not be very effective, unless you find a way to truly focus your achievements in such a way that the HR manager can get an instant picture of your worth. A P.S. might also be a good idea, as people are usually curious about that section.

8. Join highly visible social, professional and/or community groups.
Join social and professional groups where you are likely to meet people in positions of power. The local Chamber of Commerce may be a good start. At least you are meeting people face-to-face, not online. Drop a few hints in the conversation that you are looking for a job without sounding too desperate. Be ready to give them a personal card if they ask for your information. Look sharp and smart!

9. Get a job, any job!
Employers want to see that you are employable and that you are working. This demonstrates that you have desirable traits such as accountability and reliability, as well as a go-getter attitude. Many people may shrink away from taking jobs that they feel are beneath them, but if you truly want to stand out, you’ll be willing to do any kind of job to see if this could be a stepping stone to other opportunities.

10. Volunteer.
Volunteering is another creative way to find a job. You may become so valuable that they’ll want to keep you. Think Red Cross, mentoring kids in schools or clubs, teaching immigrants English, and so forth. Quite a few important people work in these areas and may be able to help you.

11. Go back to school?
College is a good place to find a job, of course. Aside from the school’s job board, the university may need help themselves in all kinds of areas. That is a good place to start if you are a recent graduate who doesn’t have to worry about mortgage and kids. You may also want to contact your favorite teachers; they often have leads from friends in the private sector who are looking for that special graduate student.

12. Check out government slots.
Our government is the largest employer in the nation with the best benefits. If you have joined the service or the Peace Corps or Teachers For America, you have a better chance of landing a good job. A friend of mine from TFA finished her 2-year teaching commitment and immediately obtained a position for a government agency that specializes in rescuing at-risk students.

Find A Job Instead of Waiting For A Career! Video From A Money Coach

We were fortunate to have a video here that was created by Christine Hassler, a financial coach who’s worked with American Express before. She addresses the topic of finding a job in this piece:

Thanks to Christine (and AmEx) for offering some fantastic ideas to help job hunters become proactive.

Why Not Take A Risk?

Don’t be afraid of being different, which means taking different routes to the coveted position. Just make sure you don’t take a job just because there is nothing else (unless you have 5 hungry kids). Go out there and show how unique you are. Somebody is bound to notice!

Created July 19, 2009. Updated May 1, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Lina Morrow July 19, 2009 at 6:40 pm

what would my son think of this?

Katie July 20, 2009 at 2:00 am

What an extremely interesting post!

While the rest of the media concentrates on doom and gloom, you have provided some really helpful tips on finding a job during a recession.

Appreciate the ideas for job hunting. Many thanks for this breath of fresh air.

Writer's Coin July 20, 2009 at 4:38 am

I would stress that you never let your rolodex get dusty in the first place. Cultivate and nurture those relationships as part of your day-to-day life. If you just start making phone calls the day you need something, you’ll find most people won’t be too eager to help you out.

Kevin@OutOfYourRut July 22, 2009 at 6:40 am

Another approach on the networking side–network in groups that aren’t directly related to your field, but might have leads on jobs in your field. If you’re an accountant, network with attorneys and IT people. If you’re an IT person, network with accountants and engineers. Someone in the group may know of an opening.

If you’re in IT and you network in a group of IT people, you’ll be competing with other people in the group, and what ever leads the group does produce will also bring a flood of applicants from within the group.

By contrast, in an unrelated group, you may be the only IT person there–and that’s exactly where you want to be. It’s all a matter of getting to know someone who knows someone, and that often happens in places where the traffic is the lightest.

Dave July 22, 2009 at 11:09 am

I’m trying to get a position within a company that is basically a cold call. I have applied for the position. However, the HR recruiter for the company has a profile on LinkedIn and I’m debating on whether or not asking to add them to my network.

Would this be an appropriate thing to do? I have my work history and also some recommendations by former co-workers and managers.

BTW, this is a VP level position, if that helps with determining the appropriateness.

Silicon Valley Blogger July 22, 2009 at 11:26 am

@Dave,
I’m on the fence with your question. On one hand, the HR recruiter may have a lot of things going on and may find this Linked In connection a bit too presumptuous or forward, but on the other hand, it could make you memorable (in a way). Have you received any response yet? Maybe if you are able to establish a connection first, it may make it “more appropriate”, although if you haven’t heard back, you may think of it as worth another try to keep yourself on their radar.

Personally, I’d wait to get a call back before I do this. If some time passes without a response, I’d try some other means to connect — perhaps through Linked In….

Good luck to you!

Dave July 22, 2009 at 11:45 am

SVB,
Thanks for the response.

I have previously received a response when I asked when the job was closing. It was put on hold for a bit. Now it is back open. The website says I am still applied to the job.

However, I’ve sent an email asking if I need to re-apply. I’m just doing that to get a response. But have not received one for three days.

Silicon Valley Blogger July 22, 2009 at 1:00 pm

@Dave,
I see. I think that perhaps 3 days is not long enough a wait just yet. From my experience, sometimes there are hold ups at companies and turnaround time to getting back to candidates may take a bit of time. I’d wait a week and maybe check back. I think that you may want a positive response or else wait long enough without one before proceeding with something more “assertive”.

I realize that most job candidates would prefer any response to none. The uncertainty is what bugs. So that “yes” or “no” from the hiring company at least lets us know what to do next.

Again, in this case, I would “wait and see”, and give the company some time to respond. If they haven’t, then maybe you can reach out to ask them for an answer of one kind or another. The Linked In strategy works best among people who already know each other (in some way), I think. I get invitations often (as I do on Facebook) and I tend not to connect with people I am not familiar with. So pinging someone on LinkedIn may work best if you’ve established that initial connection first.

Dave July 23, 2009 at 8:58 am

Thanks for the advice. I agree that inviting on LinkedIn is too forward at this point.

Meaghan July 24, 2009 at 2:02 pm

The fifth point you make, “prepare for first contact”, is very important. I have been on interviewing committees before and there is nothing more off-putting than an interviewee who has no clue what your company/business is about.

Igor September 11, 2009 at 6:55 am

Valuable tips for the job hunters, thanks. I’m for the creativity, but not everywhere: in design, advertising, PR-activities and marketing it perhaps can really make sense to create something extraordinary (by the way, very often companies ask candidates to make up their electronic presentations, where they can express their creativity as they just want), but there are some spheres where it’s better to avoid such “splashes” of creativity.

Admit, I was attracted by the idea of the girl who created her website to attract the target company. On the other hand such a fanatic action really needs explanation, why exactly this company? Why not its rivals, which can also brag about quality of goods and services? Social and community groups are really a good idea, I’m for face-to-face communication, through personal interaction it’s much easier to establish new acquaintances, solicit support from the part of many specialists working in this area. But what I didn’t like, is the idea of volunteering (as well as charity and etc.), specifically, idea of Red Cross, helping refugees and etc. I would never consider it as a means to establish good and fruitful relations and find a good job: it’s not about job hunting strategy, it’s about helping people. Otherwise, search for other means of finding your desired job.

krantcents April 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm

#9 (getting any job) may be difficult in this tough economy, so an internship paid or unpaid or volunteering in your chosen career/industry is another choice. Employers like to hire people who are already employed, so they can get a better reading from people in a similar industry. The above suggestions can be in place of that. The only other skill a new grad may offer is good grades and recommendations from their professors.

Silicon Valley Blogger April 11, 2011 at 5:20 pm

@Krantcents,
Absolutely. I have a close relative who is a lawyer and for a while worked as a barista while getting his grad level law degree from a California school. He was a practicing lawyer in his native country. I’d love to ask actually (and may be great material for another post): would you wait for a real job to come your way or would you take a “filler” job while waiting? Some people would rather sit around and do nothing in order to focus their energies to finding the perfect job. But it’s something to ponder.

Justin May 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

Thanks! I appreciate the coverage of this financial topic that applies to everyone, not just the twentysomething crowd.

Joey May 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm

There’s a thin line between promoting yourself and making yourself look good enough to prospective employers AND going overboard and making yourself appear silly in an interview. Some of the suggestions I’ve read to help a job seeker stand out sound dumb. For example, some candidates are being coached to do commercials about themselves and having them spout that out in an interview… I am not sure how well received this can be if it rings false or unnatural.

I think it may all be in the presentation. Talking about yourself and your accomplishments can rub off the wrong way and you don’t want to sound arrogant. Some books are encouraging candidates to write biographies about themselves, but that sounds a bit much — or maybe I’m too old school.

Having references and letters of recommendation should do more to convince others of what you’re worth, than what you personally claim about yourself especially if you happen to be a big talker.

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