Job Search Tip of the Week – 05/30/2014

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10 Ways to Stand Out in a Sea of Resumes

The Secret to Keeping Your Job Application Afloat

Nice Résumé. What Else You Got?

That’s the title of Basecamp co-founder and CEO Jason Fried’s article in this month’s issue of Inc. magazine.

“We have tons of qualified candidates for a key open position, but I’m looking for more than qualifications,” writes Fried. “When I see it in someone, the person shoots to the top of the candidate list. And when I don’t see it, off the list the person goes.”

What is “it,” you ask? Effort.

What lengths would you go to land that IT job?
10 Ways to Stand Out in a Sea of Resumes

  • Properly format your IT resume and cover letter. (Download editable template here!)
  • Include what hiring managers want to see (Keywords are key!) and what they ask for.
  • Customize your application materials for each job you’re applying to. “People who really want [the job] don’t toss their whole portfolio at me; they pick relevant examples and explain the thinking behind them,” says Fried. “They don’t speak in generalities about what makes them great; they speak specifically about how they would be a great addition to [the company].” (More tips on how to maximize your job search ROI here.)
  • Get online. (Check out these 6 social media sites for IT professionals.)
  • Create and build your personal brand. (Learn how to with this A-to-Z infographic guide.
  • Connect with people who work at your target company (and get personal with it). This is an especially lucrative strategy for those conducting an out-of-state job search.
  • Put in the effort to network and socialize both online and offline. Doing so can create employment opportunities, suggests Fried. He hired someone right after they graduated from college because they went out of their way to help him with some PHP programming difficulties – and that person went on to become his business partner.
  • Recruit an IT recruiter. With their technical knowledge, recruitment expertise, and extensive (and relevant) professional network, they can help you better navigate the high-tech job market. An experienced IT staffing firm like Chase Technology Consultants can leverage unique tools to get you in front of hiring managers, faster.
  • Continuously strive to become a well-rounded IT professional. (Here are some ideas on how to keep your programming skills fresh and sharp.)
  • Put yourself out there (at your own peril). Don’t go overboard; stunts can be a turnoff. Do your research to find out what kind of additional application materials would be best received. (A portfolio or website customized to showcase your development skills using the company’s main languages and technologies is “safe” yet impressive.)

“It says so much about that person’s work ethic and ability to sell his or her ideas,” says Fried. “If someone isn’t going to demonstrate those things to get the job, why would I think the person would show them after being hired?”

So what does effort look like? “It’s up to individuals to decide what it means and demonstrate it in their own way,” writes Fried. But “what it doesn’t look like: sending in a standard résumé and cover letter or, worse, just a link to LinkedIn,” asserts Fried. “Compare that with the candidate who sent a link to a custom-designed website that’s all about getting this particular job.”

Understandably, not everyone has the time or resources – especially if they’re currently employed – to whip up a custom site from scratch. Fortunately, there are many other things you can do to show you’re passionate and hungry for the opportunity (see sidebar). Start small, and then go big!

Whatever you decide to do: “Never underestimate the power of extra effort,” Fried concludes. “It’s not taught in school. It’s not mentioned on résumés. But it’s the one thing a candidate can offer to really stand out – and a powerful thing employers can look for to identify a great hire.”


Sound Off: What’s the furthest you’ve gone – or seen someone go – to stand out?


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Image Credit: Angie Thomason