Five tips for job seekers to stand out against the crowd


The tech sector laid off more than 150,000 employees in 2022, populating the job market with a wave of talent from some of the country's most notable companies.

Job seekers energized with a fresh start to the new year may be in for a tough awakening – getting a job just became much harder. CNBC reports that, according to job recruiters, the tech market remains competitive, even if job seekers are considering fewer offers than they have in the past.

Ongoing inflation and talk of a 2023 recession will likely make the job market even more competitive this year. Whether you’re applying for the same position as someone who lost their job or looking for something that provides more financial support, being a top candidate means bringing your A-game to the hiring process.

Here are five tips to help you gain a competitive edge over Twitter’s latest resignee.

1. Clean up your digital footprint

Look through your social media
Most people know to rid their social media profiles of inappropriate photos and posts. But, in case an employer “stumbles” on your Twitter or Facebook profile, double check that you haven’t liked or commented on any posts you wouldn’t love for them to see.

Embrace the pain of Googling yourself
People enjoy Googling themselves as much as they enjoy listening to a recording of their voice – okay, so they don’t tend to enjoy it all. But some things are worth a few minutes of internal cringing, one of which being a shiny new job. Take note of the websites that come up first? Is there anything problematic you need to take care of? If your personal website doesn’t come up within the first page of search results, consider making some SEO improvements.

Update any shared personal information
Long bios, short bios, social media bios – make sure all of these are not only updated with your most recent accomplishments, but also reflect the image you want to give employers. A competitive job market is not a great time for self-deprecating humor.


2. Go a step beyond just doing the research

Companies love it when candidates “do their research.” Not only does it show employers that the candidate is seriously considering the company, it also boosts some egos – just be sure not to overdo it.

Showing you did your research can look like spitting out the statistics and key phrases you saw on their website, but to really be effective, go one step further. Incorporate your own thinking, ideas, and values into the information you’ve gathered about the company. What excites you about their approach to solving problems? How does their mission and values align with your own career goals? Do you have any ideas to bring to the table if they were to hire you into the new role? Share them if they’re open to hearing them, and be sure to know what competitors are doing so that you can be informed on the market you’re in.


3. Leave no threads hanging

Nothing says you’re interested in a company more than a thank you email, and if necessary, a follow-up email. Not only is this a gracious practice, it also leaves employers with a positive image of you before they make their decision.


4. Do some reflecting

You don’t need me to insert an inspirational quote about failure to know that rejection is a part of life. Coming to terms with rejection and getting back on the horse, though, is only the first step. Dare I say – achieving success despite failure is not just about how many times you can get back up.

Dare I say – achieving success despite failure is not just about how many times you can get back up.

If there’s one thing you take from this piece, let it be this: Never ask a company for feedback after getting rejected! Despite their good intentions, many people don’t realize that asking companies for feedback can open the door to legal issues that cause major problems on the company’s end. For this reason, HR is usually well trained to decline that request.

Instead, form your own opinion on how the interview went. Be honest with yourself — what could you have done better? What questions did you feel unprepared for? Were there any moments that made you feel particularly anxious? Also reflect on the hiring manager’s demeanor and body language. Were there any points during the interview when they responded in an unfavorable way? You know more than you think you do.

Take note of the kind of candidate the company was looking for and any interview answers you may have given that revealed the ways in which you might fall short.

Is the gap specific to this company and position? Or is it something you foresee standing in the way of getting other jobs with similar demands in the same industry?

The mismatch may be because you lack a skillset or preferred style of working or because you have location or time requests the company cannot meet.


5. Tweak your approach and head back to the job board

Taking stock of the things that didn’t align during your last application or interview process isn’t enough to make things fall in place during the next go-around. Make a list of things you can change to close any gaps making you fall short of what hiring managers are looking for.

Then, pick a gap to resolve. Maybe this means adding another certification to your tool belt or accepting that you may need to relocate. Whatever it is, repeat this process enough and it will only be a matter of time before you land a job offer. When you do, it won’t be a job that happened to fall into place; it will be a job you put into place yourself.


Ashley Stahl

I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.

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