Top 10 Tips for Gaining a Competitive Edge in Today’s Job Market

A Recruiter’s Crash Course in Branding Yourself Like A Boss

According to statistics the nation is experiencing a healthy employment rate; however, I continue to meet numerous candidates who are finding this job market to be exceptionally challenging when it comes to even capturing an interview. I am a staffing recruiter and I love meeting new candidates! However, what I have increasingly found with most candidates is that their presentation is dull, benign and amazingly unremarkable.

That “thing” that will set them apart from all the other candidates in their field is non-existent. Many candidates simply lack a competitive edge — both on paper and in person. Though it’s not because they lack the education or experience; they just haven’t branded themselves in such a way that potential employers will ever take notice of them.

Ever so often a sleeperstar will come in to my office and knock my socks off. You know, that uber-professional who has raised the bar of professionalism so high and are so proficient in their role that they don’t even realize it. These are the people that bring it — they are experienced, motivated, and usually come in and hit the ground running. But nowadays, even these candidates are lingering on the job market longer.

In order to make yourself stand out from the candidate-saturated job market you must do something new, something different. Candidates today must think of themselves as institutitions in order to gain a competitive edge and secure those positions. We are now in the age of “branding.” And personal branding is trending now in the job market — it isn’t just for companies or corporations anymore.

Here are my Top 10 Tips on Branding Yourself…Like a Boss!:

1. Create a 30-second Commercial: A 30-second commercial is a tool that entrepreneurs/business owners use to clarify their message, introduce themselves and explain what they do. It isn’t just for the employers anymore! Use this tool and use it often! It is the most effective way for you, as an applicant, to briefly introduce yourself and immediately let potential employers know your value. Create a 30-second spiel and practice, practice, practice! It should flow out of your mouth like butter across a hot pan.

2. Send an Unsolicited Impact Sales Letter: Chuck that run-of-the-mill cover letter. Go for the jugular! Draft a letter which summarizes and outlines your background, desires, and offer what you can bring to the table and just send it to your desired potential employer, unsolicited. Oh and don’t forget to request an interview.

3. Create an Introduction or Resu-letter: This is a brief letter which can be used easily in an email, a brief snail mail letter or even a “one-sheet” type marketing piece that you can leave with potential employers. Also another almost forgotten tool is a brief note in a card sent in the mail. Try it!

4. Get a Business Card: A business card is a small but effective marketing piece for the professional candidate. On your card should be your name, title, phone number, email and of course, your LinkedIn url. Your resume should already be on LinkedIn; thus making your business card the most inexpensive way to get your resume in the hands of a good amount of quality connections.

5. Create a Signature Block: Your personal email should have a signature block which includes your name, phone number, email and LinkedIn address. A personal tag line can also be added to capture the reciepients attention and help you stand out. Oh and I have to add, if your personal email is something kooky like: or, I suggest creating a separate email account that is used just for job searching.

6. Innovate Your Resume Style: In some industries a one sheet with a picture can be quite suitable and effective. A brief summary including your training, experience, desired position and what you can offer is best. Optional for these photo one sheeters are: any articles on/off line, or any published work that is relevant to the posting for which you are applying.

7. Coordinate Your Attire with a Sleek Portfolio: A simple black portfolio folder from Staples will do the trick; used to hold your resume, reference letter, testimonial, copy of your degree, pictures/writing samples and any other material that is relevant to the position you are interviewing for. Pulling out relevant professinal material during an interview will present a polished and professional presentation to help employers see that you are organized and prepared.

8. Give Your Resume Style: Choose nicely weighted resume paper. Carry multiple clean copies, that match your business cards, reference letters and any other copies of relevant printed copy in your portfolio.

9. Create a Personal Reference Page: Prepare a personal reference page that includes at least three references. Make sure each reference’s name, title, company, address, and contact phone number are listed as well. In addition your reference page could include a salary history page.

10. Assemble Your Branded Candidate Portfolios: Use the black sleek portfolio folders to assemble at least 5 kits which include your resume, intro-letter, reference page, and business cards. This will ensure you are always prepared if an opportunity presents itself. And if you’re feeling brave you can always drop off one of your portfolio’s to potential employers at random. So be sure to keep a few pre-assembled portfolio’s in your car. When you finally get a call for an interview you won’t have to scramble around for any of your professional documents because everything is ready to go!

It’s stressful enough looking for a new job. It’s time for you to get out in front of that job search! Below are some great resources on more ways to create a personal brand that will help you stand out as the candidate every employer wants to hire!

Additional resources
Don’t Send a Resume by Jefferey Fox
Send a thank you card to interviewers using this service
Affordable business cards here
A library of other resume writing tools here

My next crash course…How to put your Job Search on steroids and have fabulous hair doing it!

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