After I explain to a group of people how much work is involved in today’s job search, at least one of those people, consistently, responds with, “But I don’t want to do all of that.” My eyes then roll several times.
These people forget that dozens if not hundreds of other job seekers are applying for the same jobs.
No matter the state of the economy, you’ll always be competing with someone else for a job. There’s always someone positioned just as well as or better than you. You must navigate the job market as if you have competitors on all sides trying to beat you — which, in fact, you do.
Understanding what your successful competitors are doing will help you understand what you need to do to beat them. Here are five things your competitors are doing that you should adopt for yourself:
1. Your Competitors Are Always Looking for New Opportunities
We’ve heard for years that job hopping is the best way to receive a raise. For the careerist who is looking to increase their job market value, job hopping can also be a way to improve their skill set.
Your competitors control their careers by remaining abreast of trends and changes and adapting to shifts in the marketplace. You must do the same if you expect to keep up.
2. Your Competitors Are Adept at Demonstrating Value
Some suggest showing your value to employers by trading cover letters for “pain letters,” which address a hiring manager’s problems rather than your qualifications.
An easier way to prove your value might be to keep your ear to the ground. Listen to your peers and industry connections to learn about the issues plaguing their workplaces. Then, get in front of the people having problems and offer to help. When it’s time to change jobs, you’ll have the perfect referral — the person you helped.
3. Your Competitors Collaborate
Your competitors share information with their networks, acknowledge others’ achievements, and ask for advice. Don’t disregard the value of collaboration with your industry peers. Attend conferences (both physical and virtual), listen to and participate in podcasts, and team up with your contacts whenever possible. These relationships can easily translate to new career opportunities down the line.
4. Your Competitors Focus on the Small Stuff
Remembering names, places, and events goes a long way in establishing a positive reputation for yourself. Your competitors treat everyone like they matter, from the receptionist to the chief executives. You, too, must understand that small details such as follow-up calls, handshakes, and eye contact are invaluable to your job search efforts.
5. Your Competitors Speak the Employer’s Language
If you’ve researched the company or industry well, you should be able to speak the language — maybe not fluently, but well enough to make a strong case for why your skills are what the company needs.
Many veterans can get civilian jobs after being in the military for many years because they’ve learned what their skills mean in the private sector. This is not easy because the military has terms and functionalities of its own, but veterans still learn how to translate. Similarly, you must know how your skills translate from where you are now to the company you’re pursuing.
To stand out during your job search, you must understand how your competition is standing out. It’s work. It’s time-consuming. It’s competitive. But it’s the only way to get the job of your dreams.
Mark Anthony Dyson is a career consultant, the host and producer of “The Voice of Job Seekers” podcast, and the founder of the blog by the same name.