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How to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

Show potential employers that you're unique in all the right ways

Even though unemployment has dropped to 6.6%, the market is still tough and finding a job isn't easy. With employers sometimes receiving hundreds of resumes for a single position, getting noticed (for the right reasons) is more important than ever. Learn how to stand out in a competitive job market by following these steps.

Apply Early

More than one-fourth of jobs are filled by candidates who apply within two days of posting, and half of all jobs are given to people who apply in the first week.

Recruiters want to hire people ASAP. If they find enough strong candidates within the first week or so, they'll move on to the interview phase. So, even if you're the strongest candidate, your resume may never see the light of day if you waited two weeks to apply.

Need another reason to apply early? That first batch of resumes is going to set the standard. You want recruiters to compare other applicants to you, not the other way around.

How can you be sure you're among the first to apply to new positions?

  • Stick to a schedule: Don't take week-long hiatuses from your job search. You never know what types of jobs could pop up when you aren't looking. Instead, create a daily job-searching schedule that is thorough yet not too time-consuming. This will help you avoid burning out before you land your next job.
  • Set job alerts: If you frequent a job board that allows you to set up alerts, make use of them! ADVANCE Healthcare Jobs, for example, allows you to set alerts for specific titles, which allows you to be the first to apply for positions that match your interests.
  • Save multiple resumes and cover letters: You've probably heard that you should customize your resume and cover letter before applying to each job. But, you can speed up the process by having a few different versions on hand. Each version should be tailored to a specific type of job that interests you. Some job boards, like ADVANCE Healthcare Jobs, will even let you save multiple versions to your dashboard, so all your application materials are in one convenient location and ready to go at a moment's notice.

Focus on Your Accomplishments

Make your resume and cover letter compelling by focusing on your achievements. All too often, employers see resumes that merely list the applicant's duties. What they'd rather see is a list of accomplishments.

Not sure how to change your duties into accomplishments? Follow these tips:

  • Show how you exceeded expectations
  • Explain how you increased revenues, attendance, etc.
  • Include quantifiable information (how much you raised profits, how large of a team you supervised, etc.)

You'll also want to make sure your accomplishments line up with the job description. To do this, take a look at the job description and pull out keywords. If you can modify your accomplishments and incorporate those keywords into you resume and cover letter, you'll increase the odds of getting to the interview stage.

Bolster Your Online Presence

If your resume and cover letter catch a recruiter's eye, their next move will probably be to check social media. Your LinkedIn profile, in particular, can help you make the right impression. Keeping your profile up to date is a good start, but if you really want to stand out, you'll want endorsements from peers and recommendations from managers. If the company you're applying to has a LinkedIn page, you should start following them. This will look good to recruiters and it can help you learn more about their values.

Not sure if your LinkedIn profile is up to snuff? Find more LinkedIn tips here.

Don't neglect your other social media platforms, though! While they don't have to be job specific, they should be employer friendly or set to private. You don't want recruiters to disregard you due to a wayward comment on your Facebook page.

Now that you know how to stand out in a competitive job market, it's time to brush up on those interview skills! You can find out what to wear, get tips on how to handle interview jitters and more on the ADVANCE Healthcare Jobs website.


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