The COVID-19 crisis has produced inflated unemployment rates and left millions out of work. At the same time, the number of organizations hiring employees has tightened. This has produced an ultra-competitive job market, unlike anything we’ve seen in many decades. And, ultimately, it’s the individuals with the most attractive resumes and skill sets that will win these jobs.
5 Ways to Become a More Attractive Candidate
Whether you’re employed, unemployed, or thinking about making a career pivot, you should always be looking for ways to make yourself a more attractive candidate. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Brush Up Your Resume
Begin by brushing up your resume to ensure that it’s conducive to your employment pursuits and reflective of what you’ve done. In other words, it’s time to clean up your resume to make sure it’s relevant for where you are at this stage of your career.
For example: When you were a recent college graduate, you might have listed internship experience, part-time summer jobs, and your involvement with certain university groups. But now that you’re 30 and entering into the middle years of your career, having these experiences and accolades listed on your resume can actually make you look unprofessional and inadequate. It’s time to replace these items with the work experience that’s relevant to your current job search.
Your resume is like a blank canvas. While you should never lie or mislead, you can always leave irrelevant information off and shuffle how information is displayed. This helps shape how people view your resume in a stack of other applications.
2. Invest in Yourself
Rather than sitting around and waiting for recruiters or employers to call, spend your time proactively bettering yourself. One way to do this is by investing in education and the development of technical skills. Here are some examples of what this might look like in practice:
- Stop stumbling through application and interview questions where employers ask you to explain your proficiency with software like Excel. Take free online Excel training courses to enhance your mastery and instill greater confidence in your technical skillset.
- Commit to writing and publishing at least one article on LinkedIn every week. Not only does this increase your visibility, but it also enhances your writing skills (something that’s important regardless of your career).
- Read as many books as you possibly can on your industry. These books should encompass a wide range of opinions and viewpoints. By immersing yourself in this constant education, you’ll find yourself much more prepared for interviews and conversations with recruiters.
You’ll obviously want to tailor the investments you make to your own career pursuits. But these examples should at least give you a rough idea of what this can look like in action.
3. Enhance Your Soft Skills
Technical skills are important, but soft skills are, too. Make sure you’re paying attention to things like critical thinking, communication, leadership, positive attitude, teamwork, work ethic, creativity, dependability, and attention to detail.
4. Join Professional Organizations
Now’s a great time to join professional organizations, networking groups, and any sort of industry collective that offers a certification. These memberships look great on a resume and allow you to position yourself as an expert in your craft.
5. Warm Your Network
You’re going to need your network in order to find and secure the job you want. But you’ll want to warm your network up before listing people as references or asking favors.
Warming up your network looks like touching base with people in your circle, checking in with them, and letting them know that you’re in the job market. The sooner you do this, the more natural it’ll be to ask for help or solicit a reference in the coming weeks or months.
Now’s The Time to Take Action
There’s never been a more important time to work on yourself. And while circumstances are always changing, the search for exceptional candidates always holds strong.
The best thing a candidate can do is imagine things from the perspective of the employer. If you were looking to hire someone for a position, which skills and traits would you find attractive?
View this article as a starting point. It’s not a comprehensive list by any means. Different companies prioritize different things. It’s up to you to mold yourself into the best possible version you can be. Then it becomes your full-time job to articulate and communicate this to prospective employers.