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I am no stranger to the world of unemployment, but when I was let go from my role as an events manager at Oracle earlier this year, I still panicked. With so many people in the world being made redundant at once, I was worried about how I would fare against other job seekers in the market.
Thankfully, within two weeks I got an offer at a large tech firm. A week later, I was offered a position at a multinational bank.
Was it because I am an extraordinary candidate? Far from it. It was because I took effective steps in my job search, and so can you. Based on my experience, here are the steps you can take to stand out:
1. Cast a wide net
This seems obvious, but different people have varying ideas of what applying for “many” roles looks like. Some think that 10 is a lot.
It would be helpful to think about all the skills you have, even the ones you didn’t use in your last role, and you’ll be surprised to find that you can apply those skills to a diverse multitude of careers. Once you’ve done that, all you need to do is make a few tweaks to your resume, and start hitting that “Apply Now” button.
2. Do your homework
Often, when people tell me they’re in between jobs, they’ll say, “If you hear of any openings, please keep me in mind.” The problem with this is that the request is too vague and open-ended. Even the kindest people will promptly forget, simply because they have other priorities.
What you need to do is ask specific questions when reaching out to people for a favor. Before approaching someone, go through their company’s website, find out what available roles you qualify for, and only then ask if they can refer you to the right hiring managers. People are more likely to help you when you’ve made it as easy as possible for them to do so.
3. Move quickly and honestly
No one likes to seem desperate, but there is no point in beating around the bush.
When the radio station I worked for shut down in 2015, there were suddenly nine of us looking for gigs in a highly saturated market. We each reached out to the same few station managers at other companies. While most of my former colleagues tried to play it cool by inviting these managers to lunch, I tried a more direct approach and told them exactly what had happened. One station manager immediately told me he didn’t have any open positions, but that his sister station did. I scheduled a meeting with the manager at the sister station, and was hired on the spot.
If you’ve recently lost your job, hiring managers will be understanding of your predicament, and you shouldn’t have a hard time explaining yourself. However, what you need to do is act quickly, because now there are even more people fighting for the same vacant roles than there were before. Make sure you have your updated CV and sample portfolios ready to go, so you have them on hand when you need them. Don’t forget — you snooze, you lose.
4. Show them who you are as a person
A friend of mine recently told me that she answers interview questions by thinking about what the interviewer wants to hear. I strongly disagree with this method.
If you get an interview, that means that on paper, you already qualify for the role. A company would not schedule time to talk to you unless you met their base requirements. The thing that will set you apart from other candidates are your soft skills.
Usually, candidates will try to prove they have soft skills by throwing out buzzwords like “team player,” “problem solver,” and “strong work ethic,” but soft skills are about so much more than that. You have to show hiring managers that you are someone they will actually enjoy being with. Sometimes, all it takes is a warm smile or small comment about a hobby you’re truly passionate about. It’s best to stay professional, but it would also do you some good to mention a song you can’t get out of your head, or a sport you miss going out to play.
Job hunting is challenging, sometimes daunting, and it’s easy to get discouraged — especially in today’s economic climate. But who knows? Maybe you’re just a step away from landing your dream job.