The Bottom Line: Rising to the Challenge

How to land a great job in a less than perfect market

It’s no secret that we are in the midst of one of the toughest financial crises since the Great Depression. The reality is companies are scaling back their recruiting efforts; however, recent graduates and current jobseekers must not get discouraged. There is still a need for bright, energetic and highly motivated talent in corporate America. But with the number of open positions decreasing, it will be more important than ever to position yourself at the top of the talent pool.

So what can you do to land that perfect position? Here are some things that can really make a difference.

Stand out from the crowdDifferentiation is the key. Employers want to know about what makes you unique. For undergraduate students who are just starting to build their résumés, this can take many forms. Highlight your volunteer activities or participation in extracurricular groups as well as any relevant leadership experience to set yourself apart. Write about what you have done, not what you could do. For applicants with more traditional experience, think about new ways to describe how you can add value to an organization beyond just repeating your previous job titles.

Think globallyAs businesses rapidly expand their operations overseas, employers are becoming more interested in candidates with a global mindset. International experience and knowledge of a second language will help make you more marketable. Also, being open-minded and willing to go outside of your comfort zone shows your ability to work across boundaries and connect with others in different cultures.

Master the basicsIt may seem obvious, but don’t undervalue the importance of a professional appearance and a neat and concise résumé. Candidates who can speak confidently about their strengths and accomplishments and can clearly articulate their career goals will be attractive to potential employers. Research the company before your interview and come prepared to discuss a few things that you’ve learned. Be professional andpassionate; the basic rules of “Interview 101” still apply.

Foster your virtual presenceIt’s not surprising that the Internet has become a key component of the hiring process. But many job seekers don’t use its resources to its full potential. Recruiters rely heavily on job boards like Monster and CareerBuilder when searching for new talent. Make sure your résumé is posted and searchable by using key phrases that relate to your desired job. Make it as easy as possible for the recruiters to come to you.

It’s also important to tap into social networking outlets such as LinkedIn and Facebook. These sites allow prospective employees to connect with future employers and expand their professional networks.

Get a foot in the doorWith the current job market, internships and mentorships are more important than ever. Recent graduates should consider applying for internships at companies of interest post graduation to better position themselves for full-time employment.

Be patientJob seekers should expect the current hiring process to be more extensive. Candidates may have to wait one to two months or even longer for companies to make hiring decisions. Applicants also might find the interview process to be more rigorous and include several interviews with people from all levels of the organization. As the business world becomes more matrixed with reporting structures spanning various parts of the organization, there will be more people who will want to weigh in on hiring decisions. It will be important to remain persistent yet professional throughout thisprocess.

There’s no doubt that the current job market provides an unprecedented challenge forrecent graduates. But landing that first job or making the move to a position a few rungs up on the corporate ladder is still possible.

About the author: Deborah Insel is the senior director of global recruiting for Thomson Reuters.

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