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Make Yourself the Preferred Job Candidate

Competition for IT jobs can be fierce. Knowing what to do to set yourself apart from the crowd can make the difference between getting a job and getting left on the employment sidelines.

Getting that IT job you want means going the extra mile.You are looking for a job but so are a lot of others out there. You have all the right skills, process knowledge, experience, and grit to deliver anything that you might land ... but so do a lot of others out there. What can you do to put yourself over the top?


What are the job search tricks that can make or break you? What can you do to make yourself stand out as the one and only, the cream of the crop, the person who actually sticks the landing? How can you position your résumé to reflect what you already know: that you are the most preferable IT job candidate.


Reach Out


The first step in any job hunt is the “reach out.” To put yourself ahead of the pack, you need to make contact. This contact is not achieved by machine-gunning your résumé to dozens of recruiters, or by seeding anonymous postings throughout the Internet.


Rather, you need to work through the grapevine. The overall best method of contact is through your network. Networking is the key to landing the best job and starting off as the most desirable, most preferred job candidate.


Get in touch with your professional network. Chat up friends. Drop a personal note to familiar employment contacts. Do some coffee shop meet-and-greets. Use whatever method works best for you — but do make it personal.


Do not reach out using a mediocre contact method. People who make hiring decisions want to hire someone they know. Use your professional contacts to become a person they know, and not just a name at the top of a résumé that floated in from the Internet.


A side note on recruiters: Sometimes, these individuals or agencies really do have an “in” with large companies. Oftentimes, however, they are submitting your résumé as anonymously and blindly as you would be doing on your own.


If you use a recruiter, be sure that you know who you are working with, and whether they have a good reputation. Most of the time, recruiters are trying to submit the most people to a lot of roles and just “working the numbers.” Don’t fall into that trap.


Be Bold


OK, now you’ve made contact and had a few cups of coffee. Maybe you got a lead from a friend, or chatted up a hiring manager. What now? Well, don’t expect to reap great success from being shy. It shows prowess and gumption when you ask for what you want.


You don’t want to come across as pushy, but you do want to ask questions. Ask for an interview, ask what character traits the company is looking for, ask how your skill set can be applied. Come at each opportunity with a thoughtful, energetic initiative that shows that you want the job


The worst that anyone can tell you is, “No,” but chances are they didn’t have coffee with you for nothing. In most instances, the people you meet are informally interviewing you, without the implied commitment of a formal interview. Asking for that commitment shows enthusiasm for whatever position you are going after.


In those instances where you come across as being too aggressive, don’t waste time on regrets. You probably didn’t want that job anyway. Have the confidence to understand that people are looking for top talent — and that you are top talent. Know the line between arrogance and confidence and walk it like Johnny Cash.