Although unemployment has been dropping lately, the competition for many positions remains fierce, with some employers get hundreds of applications for just one opening. In these situations, applicants need to work especially hard to stand out. If you suspect that the jobs you’re applying to are going to be particularly competitive, keep the following tips in mind:
Be first—People who apply within two days of a job posting get a quarter of all jobs, and applicants from the first week of a job posting end up with half of the jobs. As soon as a recruiter finds enough strong candidates, they’ll begin interviewing, so applying first offers you a huge benefit. To make sure you’re always an early applicant, keep a close eye on job boards and consider setting up online job alerts that will let you know the moment a position you might be a good fit for opens up.
Be careful and targeted—Using strategies like sending a generic resume out to hundreds of companies or applying for every job listing, regardless of whether you think you’re a strong candidate, can lead you into trouble. If an employer’s gatekeeping technology detects this kind of behavior, it may treat your application negatively.
Network—The more contacts you have and the more referrals you can get, the better your chances of landing a competitive position will be.
Create a great resume—On top of having a professional, attractive presentation, your resume should highlight your accomplishments. Show hiring managers how you helped past employers bolster their bottom lines, and focus on quantifiable achievements over qualitative statements whenever possible.
Follow up—If you don’t hear back about a position, follow up one time and ask whether the position is still available. Use this opportunity to highlight a few of your key qualifications as well.