In today’s world everyone and their dog is looking for a job. Every industry has become a competitive career path so it can be hard to get ahead when applying for any job.

You might be looking because you’re out of work, or because you’re looking for a career change. It might be the same job in a new company or area, and you’re only looking for something different if not completely new.

But even if you have all the experience, you will still come up against some steep competition, so how do you get a leg up and get ahead of the other applicants?

1. Polish Up Your Resume

No matter the reason for applying for a new job, you should always look at polishing up your resume. This is the first thing that your potential employer is going to know about you, and it needs to represent you perfectly. As you go through life make sure that you make a note of when you start jobs, courses and experience.

Keep a record of all achievements and qualifications you gain, because when it comes to update your resume, those are the dates that you’re going to forget.

Personalize your resume to the job you’re applying for – if the job calls for team work over note taking, for example, make sure that team work is at the top of each skill list of all the applicable areas. Tailoring your resume also comes into play with your objectives or personal statement.

Look at the key skills the company is looking for, as well as the type of company it is, and work that into your opening paragraph. When an employer has a stack of applications in front of them, you need to grab their attention early on and hold it all the way through the interviewing process.

2. Experience

Before you even get that interview, you might need to add more to your repertoire that has deeper links with the role you’re applying for.  It’s a catch 22 when it comes to having the right experience for a job; you need the job to get the experience, but you can’t get the job without the experience.

So you need to think of how you can gain some experience in your chosen field outside of work. If you are applying for a job as a carer, for example, then having volunteered in a care home will give you that bit of experience you really need.

Volunteering also looks great to an employer as it shows compassion and the willingness to go the extra mile. It can also be a great way to show your personal interests – through a pottery class you teach, or a big brother scheme you volunteer for.

3. Education

With more and more people running around flashing their brand new degrees, education is important. There are always multiple paths to get to a final role, however, education does give you a massive head start on the road to success. You might not have the means or time to go and get a degree or a master’s degree, but you can always expand your education through online and part-time courses.

If you’re looking to work in HR, then study a HR course online and add that qualification to your arsenal. If you want to go back to school then do it. There is never going to be a point in your life when it’s too late to continue your education, or to retrain as something else.

Gone are the days where people would choose one career for the rest of their lives. Now, most people will have two or three throughout their working years. If you have spent years doing a job you no longer love, then look into doing something that you do love now. Retrain as a nurse, or taking that painting course.

No education is going to work against you in any application. Your only risk is that you become overqualified for a role.

3. Dress Code

Dressing to impress isn’t just a vague saying. It’s something you should live by. When you walk into an interview, if you look ready to start tomorrow, like you would fit seamlessly into their team, you are going to make a great impression.

You should strive to look put together and professional. Having scuffed shoes shows lack of attention to detail and laziness. But don’t leave out your individual style and personality. You want to give a good first impression, and you also want to show exactly who you are and what you’re like.

A strong business woman can still wear pink – look at Michelle Obama. And a man can wear a tailored suit to an interview at a building yard. Dress for the job you want, and it will hopefully materialize in front of you.

4. Research

Again, going into the interview you need to be prepared. Research the role you are applying for, and if it’s one that is the same or similar to your current job, then refresh yourself on some of the finer points.

Also do some research into the company – if you’re applying to the school, look into its track record and assessments. See if there have been any stories about it or past students in the news.

By walking into the interview and showing that you have invested time into learning about the company or organization, as well as having their information ready to slip into conversation, it can do nothing but help your application.

If this is a completely new role, then also research the normal pay grade for people with your experience, that way you will have a better idea of whether you’re getting offered the right wage for your workload, and will stop you from being hired for asking for too little, and for being pushed out of the running for asking for too much.

5. Mock Interview

Before heading to your interview, get back into fighting shape by going through some mock-rounds with a friend. Chances are that you’re a little rusty when it comes to interviews, and no one wants to come across as super nervous and stumble over their words.

Practicing some of the more obvious questions will make you appear calm and collected, and you should have a handful of useful anecdotes ready to go that show you in a good light within the workplace.

Things and situations where you have solved a problem or dissolved a confrontation. Where you have gone above and beyond for a client, and where you have shown true initiative in the work place.

6. Follow Up

Once you have had your interview, you should always follow up with a thank you email. Your interviewer might have spoken to twenty plus candidates that afternoon, so get your name to the forefront with a polite email thanking them for the opportunity and reminding them that you’re looking forward to speaking with them again.

It’s not going to change your qualifications or your experience, but it might just be the added bit of personal touch that puts you above another applicant. And there is never anything wrong with being polite – and, hopefully, the employer will feel the same.

Written By
Human Resources Today