When stacked against tens or even hundreds of candidates for desirable positions, candidates need to find creative ways to stand out from the crowd. How you present yourself makes a big difference in how memorable you are and the likelihood that well-connected people will hire you or recommend you for positions.
From networking to interviews, here are four ways all professionals - young and experienced – can stand out from the crowd:
1. Business cards. If you don’t already have them, it’s time to get your own business cards. At a Drake University alumni-student networking event, each student I encountered gave me a business card. I was impressed and held onto them for a couple of weeks. I matched up cards to the follow-up e-mails some of the students sent, and eventually hired one of these students for an internship. That business card was a critical first step in our relationship. Many folks use vistaprint.com for low-cost cards. I use uprinting.com for my social media cards.
2. LinkedIn Profile. How does your profile look? Do you have at least 50 connections? Recommendations from colleagues, managers or even classmates? This is your online resume – spend time building it out. Send out connection requests to your network (with personal requests, of course). Of course LinkedIn is becoming more helpful for networking – but even more importantly, it is part of your online footprint. LinkedIn profiles rank high in Google searches and your future boss is likely to check you out there.
3. Twitter Account. For extreme networking opportunities and to catch the front end of industry trends, start a twitter account in your full name. Not sure where to start? Find someone in your network who uses twitter and ask them for a few tips and to help you make some initial connections in your industry. I advise new tweeters to make a commitment to tweet for a month. As you are getting started, make it your goal each day to tweet one original thought, respond to one tweet and retweet something. You’ll get the hang of it in no time. Remember – your focus is on professional networking, so don’t tweet from the bar Saturday night. Of course, you’ll list this account on your resume and business card… to stand out from the crowd.
4. Professional blog. Provided your content is marketing-related, your blog could make you stand out from the crowd and land you an interview. Think of it as an online portfolio - use it to feature case studies of your work or share your thoughts on various trends and hot topics. What a great tool to feature your work! If you build a blog you are proud to share on your resume, future employers will take notice and check it out.
Are you using these tools effectively? What other tips do you have for job seekers to stand out from the crowd?
Credit: photo by Mitch McPherson on flickr creative commons