As soon as people learn that we help Fortune 500 companies and leading brands recruit their teams, I'm usually asked one of two questions.
Those looking for shortcuts ask whether systems can be manipulated to get them selected. The answer is: Don't be a fool. The more honest and resourceful job seekers (or their parents) ask if there are things they can be doing to stand out. The answer is yes.
Here are the five things I recommend:
1. Find Ways to Let Your Creativity Shine
As every HR manager will tell you: resumes say very little. How much information can people really fit in onto a single piece of paper? Once you achieve satisfactory grades, undertake relevant internships and participate in impressive extra-curricular activities, your resume blends into others just like it. Resumes in their traditional form made sense before technology allowed people to express themselves in other ways. Today you can do better.
This means: utilize technology. Do something that makes you stand out. Do something that lets your qualities shine. Videos are a great way to do this. In a video you can show enthusiasm and passion for a position or product in a way no resume can. It also lets you highlight other qualities employers prize. U.K. jobseeker Graeme Anthony put together a compelling video that successfully attracted many viewers -– in order to get the attention of PR companies. “It shows off my personality in a way a paper CV can't,” he said. And it worked.
Don't send an hour-long monologue, though. Remember that recruiters only have a limited time. Ideally, employers will already have a video or audio option built into their hiring process. If they don't, keep it short and compelling.
Find a way to highlight your talents. Otherwise your application will sit alongside hundreds like it. The bottom line is: stand out by letting those qualities that can't be seen on your resume, but that you want the employer to know, shine.
And, of course, as David Roth, CEO of the Store WPP, points out, companies will question: If you can't market yourself, then how are you going to market your products?
2. Think Outside the Box
Go against the grain. Alec Brownstein created an online ad that would appear every time employers he was targeting (New York creative directors) searched their own names. It cost him $6. He got hired.
Ads won't necessarily get you a job, but doing something people aren't expecting, or that hasn't been done before, will get you noticed.
Demonstrate that you are willing to learn new things, undertake challenges, and have different experiences. In the weeks leading up to an application, do something you've never done before and mention that.
3. Social Media Espionage
Facebook is for friends, Twitter is for catching news, and LinkedIn is for job seeking — right?
Wrong. Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools allow you to study, connect and interact with prospective future employers and colleagues.
Learn their likes, dislikes and priorities. Interact. Seize the opportunity to get noticed and even build a relationship, before you're officially interviewed. Remember, likeability has always been a key factor in people getting hired. Positive social interactions can only help.
Of course, your social media interactions can work against you, too. Most college guidance counselors remind you to delete those embarrassing Facebook photos before applying, but also remember that foolish post-college tweets are just as damaging. A good HR department will know.
4. Study the Company's Top Performers
If you're seeking to replace someone who has moved on, or if you're hoping to join an expanding team, look at the qualities the company prizes –- the ones the top employers have –- and see how they match yours.
Emphasize where they match, and boost yourself in those other areas. That's what employers are looking for.
5. Be Proactive
If you know the company you want to work for, don't wait for any official job posting.
Many companies -– the more creative ones who want talent to find them –- accept resumes at all times. Being proactive means you can get noticed before the race has officially begun. This is a perfect moment to send a tweet"pitch"and to make sure you get seen early on.
And when you apply, show why they should take you even if they don't have a current open position. How do you do that? Reread point 1.
If success in real estate is location, location, location, success in job seeking comes from standing out, standing out and standing out. The top employers today understand that, and are adjusting their recruitment processes to let applicants shine and to focus their search on identifying the qualities that mean the most to them. This process saves them time and money in recruiting, and in the long term, gets them the best employees.
Job seekers can learn from that process to jump to the top of the line.
Job Board Listings
The Job Board connects job seekers across the U.S. with unique career opportunities in the digital space. While we publish a wide range of job listings, we have selected a few job opportunities from the past two weeks to help get you started. Happy hunting!
Creative Director at Edelman in Atlanta, Ga.
Director of Brand Communications - Training at Reebok in Canton, Mass.
Analyst, Digital Ad Sales at Viacom Media Networks in New York, N.Y.
Image: iStockphoto, bubaoneAdam Lewis
Adam Lewis @Adam_InnovateCV is a New York based entrepreneur whose most recent company is Apploi, a mobile recruiting application.