5 essential job seeking strategies to stand out in a competitive market!

5 essential job seeking strategies to stand out in a competitive market!

👋 Hello, this is Eli. I write a blog post every Sunday. In it, I usually explore recruitment and career growth topics, drawing insights from the frontlines. If you enjoy this type of content, consider subscribing to my newsletter here.
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This week, I'm sharing five ways you can stand out and increase your chances of selection during the application process. If you find this post helpful, please feel free to share it with your friends and colleagues. Enjoy!

Let's be honest, the market is crazy again. Layoffs are trending. It's sad but a constant reminder to be on top of your career and decisions. 

I asked myself, what sets the top 1% of todays job seekers apart?

As a recruiter with over a decade of experience in hiring tech professionals across various markets and diverse companies, I've gained a unique perspective on this question.

Throughout my career, I've encountered a multitude of job seekers, each striving to stand out in their own way. However, it's a select few who truly differentiate themselves and consistently capture the attention of top employers like Canva, Google, Amazon, Rokt, Atlassian and alike.

These elite candidates don't just find a job; they land their dream roles at companies they admire.

In this blog, I'll share the five pivotal strategies I've observed that these successful job seekers consistently employ. Whether you're actively seeking a new role or considering a career transition, understanding and applying these strategies could be the key to unlocking exceptional opportunities in the tech industry.

1. Double down on your strengths. Know your unique value.

In my years of recruiting, I've noticed a common trait among the most successful tech professionals: they possess a deep understanding of their unique value proposition. These individuals don't merely summarize their past experiences and skills; they eloquently articulate what sets them apart from the competition. They are great at distinguishing between "we" and "I", sharing relevant examples and telling a story.

The top 1% of job seekers go one step further; they align their unique value proposition with the specific requirements and culture of the companies they're targeting. It's a deliberate approach. This requires not just understanding what they can offer, but also a deep comprehension of what the employer is seeking.

For example:
"As a Team Lead, I bear full responsibility for my team's performance, encompassing both business and technical aspects. From a business standpoint, I engage extensively with various teams and departments within the company, such as product, strategy, and customer operations. My aim is to gather diverse perspectives to ensure that our team's roadmap aligns with the company's key priorities.

Technically, my tasks involve reviewing documents and conducting planning sessions at the whiteboard for ongoing projects. My focus has shifted from hands-on coding to a more strategic role, where I ask critical questions about architectural choices and deployment plans. Interestingly, transitioning from a Staff Engineer to my current role has meant coding less, though this is not a uniform experience across the role. In my team's context, stepping back from direct coding and moving towards a strategic and supervisory role has proven most beneficial. Fortunately, I lead a team of exceptional engineers, making my direct coding input less crucial to our overall success."

2. Beyond hitting apply on a job board: Use the power of networking and referrals

How good is it to avoid the need to apply all together?

The most successful candidates often bypass traditional application processes. How? They leverage the power of networking to cultivate relationships within their industry and secure job opportunities through referralsLike attracts like.

Referrals are a game-changer in job hunting. They often lead to opportunities that aren't advertised publicly and can fast-track a resume to the top of the pile. So, at your next meetup or conference, make a concerted effort to network, establish connections, and maintain those relationships. You never know when these contacts might prove invaluable. 

3. Provide tangible proof.

In the tech industry, practical skills and project outcomes often speak louder than words. The top candidates demonstrate their value through portfolios, case studies, and quantifiable data.

For example:

  • "I spearheaded the implementation of monitoring and observability practices using DataDog and OpsGenie. This initiative significantly enhanced our feedback loops, escalation processes, and alerting systems. I also led the adoption and training of these tools for over 30 engineers. The result was a remarkable 20-fold reduction in production error rates over several months, showcasing a tangible improvement in system reliability and operational efficiency."
  • "I successfully persuaded our leadership team to invest in two major initiatives. Firstly, to establish an upskilling program that allocated an annual training budget of $3,000 for each engineer, amounting to approximately $120,000 over two years. This program also secured over 100 exam vouchers from Microsoft and AWS. Secondly, to dedicate a portion of our time and resources to address technical debt, which included specific budgets for Kubernetes and security initiatives. These strategic moves not only enhanced our team's skillset but also significantly improved our technical infrastructure."

(these examples are from the Careersy Resume Template & Field Handbook)

4. Proactive in job seeking

Nowadays it's becoming more about anticipating and acting ahead rather than reacting, if you want to stay a step ahead.

The top 1% of job seekers exhibit a distinctively proactive mindset. They think deeply about the challenges and needs of the company they're applying to and how their skills and experiences can be the solution. To maintain this edge, it's crucial to keep your skillset and experiences aligned with current business needs. Stay alert to the subtle shifts within your organization and learn to identify early warning signs. Proactivity in your job search means being constantly on the look out and ready to adapt, ensuring you're not just a participant in your career journey, but an active architect of it.

These candidates are always thinking two steps ahead, planning how to excel in the role and contribute to the company's success from day one.

5. Asking the right questions

The most impressive candidates approach interviews as an opportunity to learn and contribute ideas. They invest considerable time in researching the company and its industry and exhibit passion and curiosity during the interview it self.

These candidates ask insightful questions during interviews, showing their depth of understanding and interest in the company. They don't shy away from difficult and hard question either. 

For example: 

  • Can you describe a recent critical decision the company faced and how it was handled? I'm interested in understanding how complex decisions are approached here, particularly under pressure or in uncertain situations. How did this decision impact the company's direction and the team I might be joining?
  • How does the company's leadership nurture and support professional growth and innovation within its teams? Could you provide an example of how an employee's feedback or initiative led to significant changes or improvements within the organization?
  • In times of rapid change or crisis, how does the company reassess and redefine performance metrics for its teams? How does this align with employee well-being and the long-term goals of the organization? Additionally, how has this approach affected team morale and productivity?

To sum it up

The strategies employed by the top 1% of job seekers are key to standing out. Understanding your unique value, leveraging networks, demonstrating your skills, being proactive, and showing genuine curiosity are essential.

Feel free to add your thoughts and comments, on what has worked for you on your journey. 

See you next Sunday. 

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