Whether you are looking for an entry-level position or have some solid job experience under your belt, finding that new gig could be tough.

There are thousands of other people that are either actively looking or just applying to test the waters. What can you do to set yourself apart?

Well, not much if you are doing exactly the same thing as everyone else.

Here is a typical scenario – you find a job you are interested in, you fill out some sort of form that nobody cares about, and you submit a resume that looks exactly like everyone else’s. Maybe your resume really tells a good story if someone could spend even a few minutes to read it, but in reality, recruiters spend on average 6 seconds looking over a resume (assuming the resume even gets to a recruiter).

To get noticed, here are three steps you could take to really set yourself apart.

Step 1: Network

Starting your job search by just submitting a resume is what everyone does. Instead, what people don’t realize is that expressing interest in a company you want to work for should start with reaching out to either someone within your network or somebody that works in a similar position within that company.

We will cover the topic of reaching out to someone that you don’t know separately, but first, let me explain how to find someone that might be in your network.

First, LinkedIn has a tool that allows you to find your school alumni working in a company that you are interested in applying to.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of going through this channel first if you could find someone from your school. At the end of the day, reaching out to that person or a number of people and mentioning that what you have in common is graduating from the same school is definitely going to get some attention.

Second, find 2nd-degree connections on LinkedIn and ask for an introduction. What in the world is a 2nd-degree connection?

It is basically someone knowing someone. For example, your friend or an acquaintance on LinkedIn is connected to someone who works at a company you’re interested in.

Reach out to your friend or acquaintance, demonstrate interest, and ask if he or she could introduce you. It is as simple as that.

Lastly, if you absolutely could not find anyone, there is one more option left.

Find either a recruiter at that company or someone that might have a similar role and reach out to them. You would be amazed at the impact of doing so.

What should you put in your note?

Definitely the following three things – who you are (and why you are that candidate they have been waiting for), why there is a fit with a role you’re interested in, and some sort of request.

Your request should be either an introduction to a recruiter that is responsible for this posting, or if you are certain that you are dealing with the right recruiter, a quick 15-minute phone call.

That’s it. You’ve already done what 99% of job applicants don’t do.

Let’s jump into a few other things.

Step 2: Tailor The Language of Your Resume To The Position

Want to go another extra mile and get ahead of everyone else? Tweak the language of your resume based on the language of the position you’re applying to.

Let me unpack that a bit further.

Who is writing the position description? Yes. The hiring manager.

Who gets on the phone with the hiring manager to understand the qualifications of a potential hire?  The recruiter.

So…imagine the recruiter opening your resume and finding those buzz words that they heard from the hiring manager.

No, I am not saying this to just make stuff up. If you are interested in a particular position, I am assuming you have some experience in that area. If so, just make sure your language in the resume is tied to the language of the position.

If you do not have direct experience, find something close and make sure to emphasize it.

This might be difficult for every single position you are applying to so use the 80/20 rule. Find a handful of positions that you would consider your dream jobs.

Let’s get to the last step.

Step 3: Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Who do you think the recruiters chase the most? Somebody who sounds like they got on a phone with a recruiter or a hiring manager after getting 300 rejections or someone who is interviewing with other companies or already has offers on the table?

Yes. You guessed it right. The recruiters and the hiring managers are always eager to hire someone they see as being valuable in the market.

This means that if you got that first interview, keep going. Apply to more positions, talk to more people, and don’t get obsessed with this one company you can’t stop dreaming about.

Trust me. It makes the whole process less stressful as we all know how waiting for the decision phone call or email could eat our souls.

When you’re going through an interview process with multiple companies, not only does it show to everyone that they have to actually give you an attractive offer, but it also eases up that waiting game.

Lastly, at the end of the day, having multiple opportunities would give you leverage to negotiate a better offer.


Finding a new gig could be stressful and hard as there is a lot of competition out there. Following the steps that I listed out could help you get an edge over candidates that are putting their job search on auto-pilot.

Spend extra time and be optimistic and it will show to everyone that you are the next person they want to hire.

Add a comment or shoot me a note if you’ve experienced results from following these steps. I’d love to hear your success stories.

Until next time.