To move yourself to the top of that virtual pile, you’ve got to do something different. Applying for a job is not what it used to be.
Applying for a job is not what it used to be.
In this new digital world of work — where it’s more competitive than ever to land your dream position — offering a standard resume and writing an introductory cover letter will get you nowhere.
Why? Because those are the exact same things everyone else is doing. To move yourself to the top of that virtual pile, you’ve got to do something different.
Now, what you do varies according to your chosen industry. If you're applying for a job in the financial industry, for example, you might want to stick to the standard application process for the most part. But for most industries, you don't want to fit in — you want to stand out.
Here are four ways you can help a hiring manager notice you and go out of his way to get you on the team.
1. Create Something
Penelope Trunk says instead of writing a resume, you should start a company. I’d broaden that to start anything.
Creating something — whether that’s a company, blog, lifestyle business or Etsy store — shows you're a self-starter and a go-getter. It shows you have it in you to get stuff done. It proves you’re creative and know how to follow through.
Starting something can also be your key to closing a knowledge gap or a lack of experience. Who cares if you don't have two years of experience working at a certain type of company — if you've created something significant that requires those same skills, plus some serious self-motivation?
2. Write an Interesting Cover Letter
Rather than introducing yourself in the first paragraph — and putting the recruiter to sleep in the process — share an anecdote that showcases what you most want the employer to know about you.
Tell a story about how you did something other people said couldn’t be done. Write about results. Share a change you helped bring about, and how that affected someone's life.
Writing an an eye-catching cover letter is more difficult than writing a boring one that regurgitates your resume, the type of letter hiring managers have read a million times. If it were easy, everyone would do it. But putting in that extra effort is exactly what’s going to help you leap ahead of your competition — and working a job you actually enjoy.
3. Approach Your Dream Employer
Being proactive pays off, particularly in the job search — and not only because every employer wants proactive employees.
If you approach an employer and show how you can help them reach their goals, you’ve not only jumped ahead of the hoards of jobseekers who might’ve applied to that company’s job post. You’ve also saved the employer the effort of continuing to look for the right person.
Here are five tips for sending an attention-getting cold email. What’s even better, though, is finding a way to make a connection at the company you want to work for (via Twitter, for example), and eventually asking that warm contact for an introduction to the hiring manager.
When you pitch yourself, don’t focus on how working at the company will help you — focus on how you can help the company succeed. What does the company need, and how can you help its employees make that happen? What can you offer that will help them take business to the next level?
4. Supplement Your Application
Do this even if the employer doesn't ask for a supplement. Actually, do this especially if the employer doesn’t ask for one, because that extra effort will show the employer just how much you want to work for him.
When Marian Schembari wanted to become community manager for Couchsurfing, she created a video having members of the community vouch for her — using the exact community-rallying skills she'd use in the job. (She got the gig!) Job hunter Jannic Nielssen used his web marketing smarts to create a resume that looked just like Kickstarter. (He was hired, too.)
What hiring manager wouldn't want these hustlers on the team?
Doing something different isn't only about the result; it’s about proving that you think a little differently from everyone else. So next time you want to move up in your career, forget about what everyone says about applying for a job, and buck the status quo