In any economy, good or bad, you have a lot of competition for every job search. The internet, social media and also the rise of the global “gig economy” have only increased how hard you need to fight for every opportunity.
Intimidated? Most people would answer “Yes!”
“Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it away from you.”
– Mark Cuban
But before you shrink in the face of what seems like overwhelming odds, though, realize only some of your career competition is “working 24-hours a day to take it away from you.” It is that small group who you need to work your ass off to beat.
The rest of your competition… These geniuses are tripping over themselves to make you look like the much more hirable candidate. Unknowingly, they’re doing all they can to help you get a job — instead of them.
Here are five reasons why you should thank your job search competition.
They Don’t Network
Why you should thank them: Today, people hire people they know – or people who know people they know. In fact, recent surveys show 85% of candidates were hired through networking.
Yes, less than two candidates out of every 10 were hired via job boards or sending a resume directly to a company.
Yet much of your job search competition spends day after day doing just that. (Keep it up, fellas! That recruiter will call soon. Maybe tomorrow’s the big day… or the day after…)
They Do Little or No Research for the Interview
Why you should thank them: A job search is a head-to-head competition. Repeat that to yourself non-stop. From when you wake up on the day of your interview, to the second you leave the company’s parking lot, remember that. In every aspect, recruiters compare you against other candidates — not against some mythical text in a job description.
Among the important points, you will be evaluated on what, and how much, you know about the company, the industry, and also the particular position. Some of the candidates you’ll be compared against won’t know they should do any research. Others will only perform a cursory review of the company’s website… perhaps thoroughly reading the About Us page. That simply isn’t enough.
Recruiters want to know you’re interested in not just a paycheck at any company. They want to know that you want this particular position, at this particular company. So wow them with your knowledge of the company, its industry, its competitors, recent news about the company — and much more.
They Have a Weak or Non-existent Personal Brand
Why you should thank them: So millennials and Gen Z are digital natives. Excellent! Any recruiter should be able to find a candidate anywhere online. What will they find… nothing? That’s a bad sign.
Or even better for you, they’ll find social media rants – pick your poison: extreme political, racist, homophobic, mysoginistic, etc. Or they’ll see bad grammar and typos. Photos revealing questionable life choices (hide the bong, people!) might also come into play. If any of this is witnessed by the employer, this candidate is done.
A recruiter should be able to easily find you have a wide digital footprint. And your big digital feet — from your social media posts to blog posts to participation in Twitter chats and Facebook Groups — represent you. Managed well, your footprint also shows a recruiter that you’re ready to take on a new role and will represent them well.
They Think They’re “Too Young for LinkedIn”
Why you should thank them: Many recent grads feel LinkedIn is “for old people”, or that they don’t yet have enough job experience to network through LinkedIn.
Excellent! The more time they wait until they’re “old enough” for LinkedIn, the more opportunities you’ll find with less competition as recruiters seek you out on the site.
Set up a LinkedIn account when you’re still in college. Out of college but don’t have a LinkedIn profile? Do it now. Once done, begin to build a stable of professional relationships. Because you’re never too young to be found on LinkedIn.
They Interview Poorly
Why you should thank them: For most people, interviewing is a stressful experience. They’re out of their comfort zone, clearly. They know they’re being evaluated every second with one shot at success… it’s do or die time.
And that’s great for you – because most candidates die. They show up late, then blame the traffic. They use bad grammar, don’t dress professionally and, as mentioned above, fail to research. Or they make many other errors. In fact, there is a long list of easy-to-fix-with-nearly-zero-effort issues used by employers to dismiss a candidate.
But not you. You know there are thousands of well-written blog posts out there with great, up-to-date interview advice. You’ll know how recruiters view candidates during an interview. You understand what behaviors will turn you from “yes” to “next!”
Every minute of your job search is a competition. For every job you want, you’re up against many other candidates, and only one of you will make it. Some of those candidates will be solid competitors, like you. So you’d better prepare.
But also be sure to thank the other candidates. Those that fail to prepare. Those that fail to listen. And those that make you a Top 5 candidate for every position.
About the Author: Dave Ellis is an original member of the YouTern team and enjoys his role as the company’s “Man Behind the Curtain.” He is instrumental to its success… in fact, YouTern wouldn’t exist without him (and he might have written this bio himself). In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals. Connect with Dave on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter!