This is a guest post by Vicky Oliver.
Is your job search coinciding with this year’s national elections? Your campaign for a “yes” vote from a hiring manager may require a more targeted strategy during the months when everyone’s distracted by the fierce rancor and intense volume of this season’s political campaigns.
Candidates for the positions you’re after may back off the hunt as they, too, become sucked into the vortex of the political showdown. Keep in mind that the news cycle is short throughout the election season, but you’re on a potentially long campaign to get a job. When you’re vying for a position amongst a surplus of talented, qualified people, it’s necessary to put blinders on and keep charging ahead. As numbers of your competitors become overpowered by the shrill noise of the political landscape, you’ll nose ahead.
To come out in front in your job search through this election season, use these five strategies to stay top of mind when everyone else’s mind is elsewhere:
1. Broaden your networks.
Job seekers have more success when they move beyond combing through job boards, and, instead, spend time meeting people, taking peers or prospects out for coffee, and navigating social and professional networks. In the political world, it’s called glad-handing, but effective job seekers know that face-to-face networking can speed up the process of finding a job. Tapping into both professional and informal networks exponentially increases your chances of learning about job openings and knowing someone who works for the company who can offer insider information.
2. Inject humor.
In any written communications or interviews, avoid coming off as a robotic job candidate with the usual empty phrases and rote skills descriptions. Let an employer see your human side. Be inventive! Use a well-positioned pun; describe a day-in-the-life scenario at your dream position; poke fun at yourself by recounting a major fumble in your professional career–always including how you recovered! Humor, used in good taste, will make you stand out.
3. Take a page from the politician’s campaign playbook.
Persuade hiring managers to take notice by plugging your track record of wins and successes in your career. Use numbers to quantify the impact you made. But don’t fall into the political candidates’ propensity to endlessly proclaim their own fabulousness. Convey how you’d apply your talents to solving the company’s problems.
4. Be the break out candidate.
Following the rules of an automated recruiting process can actually work against you. Break from the mold of submitting a one-size-fits-all resume and cover letter that will be vetted by HR–or possibly by applicant-filtering software. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than of landing a job through this worn-out practice. Sidestep HR, and zero in on the hiring manager at the company where you hope to work. Connect directly with that person by sending a message through LinkedIn–a medium people tend to read. Mention what hurdles the company faces, and how, with your expertise, you could help. This strategy lets you rise above the noise and make a strong impression.
5. Stay focused.
Don’t let your energy waiver–even if the other candidate pulls ahead. Follow up with any overtures you make to a hiring manager, and always leave off each note or call by letting the person know your plan to be back in touch. Persistence shows your enthusiasm and drive. Unless the hiring manager casts a definitive “no” vote, consider yourself still in the running.
About the guest post author:
Vicky Oliver is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks 2005), named in the top 10 list of “Best Books for HR Interview Prep,” and Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots (Sourcebooks, 2008). She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media target, having made over 700 appearances in broadcast, print, and online outlets. For more information, visit vickyoliver.com.