3 tips to stand out when you're competing against top talent

By Courtney Jones

hiring managers When you’ve got your skilled eye on the employment prize, it’s often easy to view the other candidates as less than competition.

Because you’re great.

You have the facts and references to prove that part. And also- you’re quite likable. And people do business with people, and they do it with the ones the like. So you’re an obvious shoe-in…right? Maybe (but maybe not). Because unless your resume was the only one the job posting generated, chances are there are other highly skilled and likable characters plotting for the role. So when you’re going up against the best, here’s how to stand out, so you’re not the candidate turned down.


Be a pain (solver)

Everyone send a cover letter. It’s a back to basic obvious, but if you want to be bold in your job search, you need to boldly go where very few job seekers have gone before. Try swapping out the boring cover letter for a pain letter; meaning identify a challenge the company is facing and how you, if hired, would tackle it. Pain letters are appeal boosters that demonstrate an uncommon knowledge of their business and your ability to be a problem solver.

Get the inside scoop

Now this can be a slippery slope; one best navigated with a kid glove approach. But if you can connect with an inside influencer, and send your information directly to that person, your clout score can gain traction if they vouch for your experience and passion. It’s a gutsy move if you don’t have a prior connection, but if you approach him or her in a non-job-begging, or badgering way, you can convey the value you would bring to the position. Try forging a connection on LinkedIn or join a professional network you know they belong to (thanks to your internet sleuthing skills) and introduce yourself.

It may go something like this:

HI there! I was doing some research on your company because I’m applying for the open developer role, and I came across your profile. I noticed you recently published a post about the benefits of using JSFiddle in your programming campaigns. I recently just helped develop a campaign using this tool during a recent contract at a marketing firm. From the data I’ve included you can see that it increased our website traffic by 25%, proving your theory!

I thought the site may be of interest to you and would be happy to provide you with more details if you’re interested, and I would greatly value your support in my pursuit of the positon.

This is an example of how to make a genuine connection and not just ask for a favour.

Show and tell

The best way to demonstrate your value is to show it. Aside from submitting your online portfolio, take a page from the pain letter and target another challenge the company faces. You can show your enthusiasm and passion by submitting a unique approach to solving it. This could be a proposal for a new campaign, a marketing tactic or grant opportunity. Get creative because the opportunities with this are endless!

Being bold doesn’t mean being aggressive, and to make your candidacy stand out, you may need to let these tips settle into your employment game plan.

by Courtney Jones

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