Get the Edge on Job Competition

Employability Skills

In this modern, digital era, finding a job can be a tricky and an often disheartening experience. You can fire off hundreds of emails, only to receive a couple of replies and often rejections at that.

Then there are those huge job seeking sites that let you know that there have already been a thousand applicants for the job you’re going for, just to motivate you a little more.

Well perhaps it is time to try a different tactic, to get an edge on the competition, to stand apart from the crowd or to ready yourself for when the perfect job does come your way.

Be Bold; Don’t be Afraid to Get Noticed

Thinking outside the box when trying to look for a job can have unique and exciting results. Whether it is a self-promotional stunt or a well thought out campaign, it can be an excellent way to stand out from the crowd.

Here are a couple of examples of people who have tried something a little different:

  • A young graduate living in London got suited and booted, and stood in Waterloo station offering his services as a marketing graduate. Even though it was so simple, he was inundated with requests by potential employers who liked his gumption.
  • Another plucky person saved up money all summer working in an amusement arcade. Instead of heading off for a holiday, he thought out a two month campaign, which culminated in him purchasing advertising space on a billboard stating ‘I spent my last £500 on this billboard – Please give me a job’. Needless to say he had lots of interest for potential work.
I spent my last £500 on this billboard – Please give me a job.

Keep Social Media Active for Contacts

Social media is a huge machine, with millions of people around the world actively using it every day. However, its potential for networking and building up your own personal brand is also huge.

We all know about sites such as LinkedIn when it comes to finding a job, but any social media platform can be utilised for finding contacts and building business relationships. A few quick tips to bear in mind when it comes to using social media as a spring board for job seeking are as follows:

  • Imagine your future employer can read everything you post or write. Keep it professional and keep it clean.
  • Don’t be pushy with people. Sure, it is great to get in touch with people and let them know who you are, but don’t be overly forceful with it. If someone wants to speak to you they will, you don’t need to pester them, there are many fish in the social media sea to swim with.
  • Have a personal brand in mind across all platforms. Think about your tone of voice, the kind of content you post and the individuals you connect with.
  • Don’t apply for jobs through social media. It’s a great place to chat with other like-minded individuals, have fun and hopefully make some great contacts, but to apply for an actual job it is always best to go through the correct channels.

Keep your Portfolio Updated with Fresh Work

Making sure you keep a portfolio full of fresh work is always a must.

Having older pieces of work is great too, as you can show an employer a progression or different skill set, but they also want to see recent examples of things you have done.

Living off work that was done months or even years ago is never a good idea, as most professions are fast changing and it can make you come across as out of touch.

Should I Work for Free to get Experience?

This is a tricky topic and something which brings a passionate response in many individuals.

There are a lot of companies who take advantage of an over saturated job market and advertise a non-paid role with the opportunity of gaining a paid, full time job at the end of the contract. These are companies to watch out for, and a little digging can uncover employers who use these dirty tactics.

That being said, offering your services for free, to a company or employer you like, can be a great ‘in’ to a job. If you are confident in your ability, then working hard could lead to a potential job, but the very least you’ll get is some invaluable experience and great contacts in the area you want to work in.

An individual I previously worked with went for a job and managed to get into the final two candidates. To cut a long story short, they chose the other individual, but he liked the company so much he offered to work for free to gain some experience. Needless to say they were so impressed with his work over the following months, it eventually led to a full time role and he is still there to this day.

Become Knowledgeable in your Own Field through Extra Reading and Learning

A phrase I heard recently was ‘While you’re making it to the weekend, I’m making it at the weekend’. Though it may be a little cliché, essentially what it is saying is right. Of course you need time to enjoy life, enjoy yourself and have fun. How can you be a productive individual if you aren’t a happy one?

However, reading books or articles by experts in your spare time can teach you a great deal and give you a different insight into your chosen field that you may not have thought of. You can also practise new skills and techniques to become more familiar with them. When it comes to an actual interview, showing this knowledge and how you have spent your free time will all impress an employer.

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Develop the skills you need to get that job.

This eBook is essential reading for potential job-seekers. Not only does it cover identifying your skills but also the mechanics of applying for a job, writing a CV or resume and attending interviews.

Take Control and the Opportunity Will Come

So, there is my advice on how to get an edge on the competition. I know how frustrating it can be trying to find a job; it can seem hopeless at times.

However, by employing some of these tactics and by being bold, you can take control of the process yourself; ready to start showing employers what they have been missing.

About the Author

This post was written for Skills You Need by James Peterson, Marketing Executive at Signatrol.