Strategies to Stand Out in a Crowded Employment Market

June 24, 2020

What makes a professional stand out in a crowded employment market?  A track record of results…  In order to “stand out”, I recommend diving into your current and past roles to evaluate your impact. This could entail a variety of factors depending on your skill-set; team performance, product innovation, channel distribution, brand awareness, and most importantly the bottom line. Focusing on notable achievements and a career snapshot that highlights your biggest accomplishments will be key to stand out. The impact/results should be highlighted and featured on your resume, LinkedIn, and discussed in detail throughout the interview process.  The following are tips to create a point of differentiation between yourself and others in a competitive employment market.

Demonstrate your accomplishments.  50% of professionals discuss activities or general functions instead of specific accomplishments. To stand out, it’s important that you proactively provide specific examples of how you made a difference. Providing a back story to the example is equally as important. For example, a Sales Executive that inherited a retail partnership that was underperforming due to failed programs, lack of training and zero strategy – paints a clear picture of the challenges and elaborates on the process taken to turn this scenario around, concluding the example with the revenue/sales impact. Being able to highlight successes and overcoming challenging situations will show resilience and a track-record that will certainly be appealing in the current employment market.

Connect with your audience.  Mastering organic small talk and building a connection is key.  Ultimately, you must demonstrate your core competencies. However, this goes hand in hand with your “likeability” factor.  With the current landscape during the COVID-19 pandemic, in person interviews are still less common and building connections via the phone or video conferencing is challenging. It’s important to create a back and forth dialogue during the interview. If you find yourself doing all the talking – you are not building a connection. You can provide follow up to your interview questions such as “Does that example fit in with your goals for this role?” OR “I can elaborate on my process in transforming the sales team that impacted the sales from $25 million to $75 million. Is that transformation relevant to your current Sales opportunity?” The goal is to create dialogue between both parties to build a connection and understand the potential fit for both parties. Another recommendation is to review the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile to find common connections, alumni, networking groups or even hobbies which can lead to “breaking the ice” conversation starters and lead to small talk to develop a rapport.

Prepare strategic questions that can set you apart. Refrain from asking the standard boilerplate interview questions that many professionals ask.  For example, a job seeker interviewing for a Sales Executive role may ask “What is your expectation for growth?”  While it’s a valid question, it’s standard.  A better approach would be to state “I noticed that your business is heavily rooted in the professional hair care channel and the trend that I’ve successfully executed is an Omnichannel model – is that something being considered in the future distribution strategy?” Asking strategic questions based on your expertise opens up deeper conversations and topics to further showcase your talents and qualify yourself. It also can help you understand the overall vision and the potential growth or challenges within the role.

Present a portfolio/brag book.  This can be a highly effective strategy when the professional has visual examples that can display their work. This works specifically for Creative, Marketing, Product Development, Social Media, and Sales roles. Examples in a portfolio can provide the bridge between verbal discussions and the fantastic end result. Naturally, most people are visual and when they can visualize the work, it can create a WOW factor which may not happen with verbal examples.  It’s important to ensure confidentiality and direct ownership of the work or to clearly articulate your direct role in the visual example. Professionals that can showcase their work tend to stand out amongst their competition.

Return to the “Thank you” note.  I have noticed in the last year that less than 20% of professionals follow up with a “thank you” note after an interview. Some hiring managers have viewed the thank you note as a simple tactic that demonstrates professionalism, follow up skills and writing capabilities. Sending a strategic thank you note that highlights the objectives of the opportunity and aligns those objectives with your proven achievements can leave a lasting impression. This also likely sets a higher distinction for those who send the thank you note over those professionals that choose not to send one. Make sure to have the note proofread prior to sending since grammatical errors can leave the opposite impression.

We have entered a highly competitive employment market, therefore, each opportunity will need to have a customized approach to stand out. By doing thorough research and leveraging your network to learn more about the company, culture, and goals, you will set yourself up to stand out during the interview process. At Premier, we take pride in playing a strategic role with our beauty clients and candidates which has led to consistent employment opportunities during this economic downturn. These tips provided in this article have been part of our strategy to help professionals stand out and get an offer!

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