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Stand Out in the Candidate Crowd

Let's face it - times have certainly changed. With the market down, layoffs are abundant, companies are experiencing hiring freezes, and recruiters just aren't banging down candidates' doors anymore with hot job opportunities. There are still jobs out there, however, and the fact is that in this market, candidates need to refine their career search strategy in order to adapt to the times. Here are a few do's and don'ts that will better your chances of securing that next opportunity in the current market:

  1. First, take the time to do some "soul searching" to find what you're really good at, and what you truly want to do. If you have the resources to take some time off, by all means, this is the time to do it! Consider what you'd really like to do eight hours of everyday; what in fact gives you the fulfillment you need to make you "successful" in your career. This may be a good time to redefine the plan to go about pursuing your ideals, or focus on continued education in this direction.

  2. While I suggest you be tenacious in pursuing the career path of your choice, if you find after substantial effort that it seems you're losing the battle, you may have to contemplate being more flexible for the time being. Consider an environment where your current skills can be transferable. For example, a C++ programmer may accept a contract assignment for a wireless company in which programming requires a combination of C++ coding along with some electrical engineering. This could be a good option in the interim while you continue to search for that next "ideal" opportunity. In addition, take a serious look at industries not suffering from the economy right now, such as healthcare, hardware engineering, and biotech. Utilize alternatives as opportunities to leverage your skills and increase your competitive edge in the long run.

  3. Next, be aware that now is the best time to have a good recruiter in your back pocket. Wisely using a few savvy recruiters is a terrific way to save time and conduct a precise, efficient job search. I suggest you target select recruiters that have close relationships with companies and/or work in specific industries you want to pursue. Utilizing the power of recruiter/client relationships affords you a tremendous advantage over other candidates in being effectively presented for positions. Work with those recruiters who genuinely understand what you do, what you really want to do, and who you are. That is our job!

  4. When establishing recruiter relationships, portray yourself in such a way so as to give the recruiter a vested interest in finding you a job. Savvy recruiters work with the candidates who are willing to work with them, and who have clear objectives in mind while still willing to be flexible. Give defining parameters as to what you consider options for your career, and what you don't. Remember that recruiters get paid to "think outside the box" and determine where you may be an asset to a company regardless of an "open" position. Spend the time answering the "why's" as to what you do and what you want to do, and you may find yourself in a new position that you couldn't have better chosen on your own! With the slowdown in the market however, you may ask yourself, "How do I get a recruiter or a hiring manager to even call me back?" Here are a few suggestions to separate you from other candidates:

  5. The first thing not to do is spam resumes to staffing firms or companies. According to a professional in Internet job posting and metrics reporting, about 40% of applicants to a particular company are the same candidates applying multiple times, and around 15% are candidates applying to the very same position! While there's something to be said for tenacity, there's also something to be said for discretion. Don't get discouraged if you apply to a job for which you think you're a "perfect fit", and don't receive a call back right away. Remember that the professional representing the job may know particulars about it that you're not aware of. Often times the position may have closed, the project moved, or there are particular requirements not included in the formal job description that don't match your skills.

  6. Another approach is to try things the "old fashioned" way, and mail a nice copy of your resume to the company for the position in which you have a particular interest. What a way to make your resume stand out in that stack of printed electronic copies on the decision maker's desk!

  7. Once you get an interview, be it with a staffing professional or a hiring manager, make sure you've done your homework on the company and the job for which you're applying. If possible, know the company's position in the market and what last year's earnings were. Understand the company's mission and the driving force behind their business model, and communicate how you can effectively be an asset to their mission! Articulating this information to recruiters will not only convey your interest in the job but also give them extra ammunition to pursue the opportunity for you. Communicating this knowledge to a hiring manager will land you miles ahead of other candidates.

  8. Remember, companies in this market are investing in people for the long haul, and if you present yourself as a low risk, team player that sees the big picture, you've separated yourself from the tens and even hundreds of other applicants!

-Pamela Toro
Recruiter/Account Manager
DPI Technical Staffing
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