4 ways to stand out in an overcrowded job market
Businesses will need to adjust to a new reality in the post pandemic world, and so too will job seekers.
Many businesses may not reopen, and others may start up slowly. There will be industry sectors that will actively look for candidates, and others that may not be ready. The result will be many more candidates seeking opportunities in a much tighter employment market.
If you are searching, or plan to search, for a new job or career, here are four ways to stand out in a crowded hiring space:
1. Fill in the gaps
If you have the sought-after technical knowledge and skills common in your industry, you’ll be a more competitive candidate. So now is the time to think about your knowledge and skills gaps and weaknesses.
- Ask yourself what abilities you need to acquire or improve upon.
- Perhaps you need to polish up on project management, presentation skills, or business writing.
Whatever your gaps or weaknesses, search for online programs or other ways you can expand your knowledge and capabilities. Your objective is to stand out and get noticed. People who are well rounded and adaptable will be those who make it out on top.
Knowing you are experienced and proficient in your field will also translate into more confidence going into job interviews.
2. Build your soft skills
According to a startling statistic, failing to show soft skills at an interview can cost you the job! In LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends research report (over 5,000 talent hiring professionals and managers responded), the results confirm the importance of soft skills with 92% of respondents saying soft skills are more important than technical skills. The research also reported that 89% said their bad hires had typically lacked soft skills.
So, what’s the difference between hard skills and soft skills?
Hard skills are your job-specific skills gained from your academic and technical qualifications and training.
By contrast, soft skills are the positive qualities of your personal attributes, personality traits, inherent social cues, and communication abilities. Soft skills enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve business outcomes. Soft skills are a company’s critical attributes in a competitive business world.
Here are some examples of soft skills:
- Your ability to communicate (to write and speak clearly and with confidence)
- Your ability to collaborate (teamwork is critical to business growth)
- Being friendly, approachable, and kind (people want to work with you)
- Being dependable (you are reliable, trustworthy and can be counted on)
- Time management skills (knowing how to organise and plan your time to get things done efficiently)
- Your professionalism (your conduct, behaviour, and attitude)
- Your willingness to learn (open to learning new skills, software, and technology)
- Your ability to listen and comprehend (to build stronger rapport with co-workers, managers, and clients)
- Adaptable and flexible (your ability to embrace and roll with change)
The good news is, even if your work experience is limited, chances are you’ve started building a toolkit of soft skills that you’ll take with you to your future career.
The challenge is to identify what soft skills you have and look at those you might need to strengthen and improve upon.
Do you work well with people? Strong interpersonal skills are highly valued. If you need to improve, find opportunities to collaborate with people in different parts of the company. Seek out other perspectives and viewpoints. When expressing yourself, be patient and calm.
With stats indicating that soft skills are critically important in the hiring process, take the time to think about your weak points, and work on them.
3. Strengthen your CV
Hard and soft skills are the two main types of job-related skills for your CV.
When listing hard skills on your resume, back them up with a certificate, degree, or other qualification that shows your level of achievement. Provide examples of how you’ve used the hard skills that are most relevant to the job you’re seeking. It is also critically important to link your skill set with business outcomes, e.g., through a redesign of the ABC website, the business saw a 50% increase in visitor numbers.
When the hard skills and experience are equal between candidates, it can fall on soft skills to tip the balance. When checking out job postings, read them carefully to see what soft skills they are looking for. You want to paint a picture of the skills you possess so you will stand apart.
Many recruiters and HR managers may scan resumes and cover letters for keywords they have used in their job postings. As well, electronic applicant tracking systems used by companies to help streamline the hiring process will filter out, sort and rank each CV to narrow the pool of qualified candidates.
To give yourself the best chance at landing an interview, tailor the hard and soft skills and keywords on your resume and cover letter for each position. Your cover letter provides an opportunity to highlight the skills that make you suitable for the role.
4. Tell your story
As you strengthen your CV, kick it up another notch for a competitive advantage.
Use concrete examples of your soft skills. Rather than saying you are a good team worker, use a story to show how, such as: Improved team morale and communication by organising a weekly ‘ideas’ lunch. By demonstrating how you successfully used each of your soft skills, you present them as an achievement.
Fill in your knowledge gaps, improve your soft skills, and tell your story. From this solid base, you will be able to move forward with confidence in the new job market world.
Also check out our Career Advice page filled with information booklets on numerous job search topics to help you get ahead.