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Being Proactive, Differentiating Yourself
Abhijeet Narvekar Dec 9, 2010

I have been talking to a few job seekers who are either actively or passively looking for a job in the Houston TX Market. Some either have jobs but are looking for a better opportunity while some just lost their job and are overwhelmed with the thoughts going through their mind. But most of the candidates have similar concerns.

The biggest concern was - How do you differentiate yourself and get an edge over the hundreds of similar candidates seeking the same opportunities?

Consider a case in point – 3 individuals with the same skill set, with good success stories to talk about are looking for a job (actively). Passive candidates have to do things a bit differently.

The first actively looking candidate – has references from clients, colleagues, has an updated resume, is a good networker and knows a lot of people.

The second actively looking candidate – has not been active at all in creating his resume, profiles, networking. Just lost his job but needs to get going.

The third candidate – Introvert, but knows her stuff and is confident that she can do the job better than her competition. Not the best networked but she is performing her job search, applying regularly for matched positions.

Now when a job opportunity comes along, it’s a big possibility that the 1st candidate is in line first. This could be because of her being proactive, creating more opportunities to be in the right place at the right time.

The 2nd person – Since this candidate has just lost his job and had been working for the company for a long time. He did not have his resume ready. Now that he is in the market again, he will need to get going. Linked In Profile, Resume, References will be a good start.

The 3rd person will be approached by the recruiters eventually. ‘Eventually’ because, unless her resume is very strong and meets all criterion, the recruiter does not know much about the person. Good recruiters like to do their research, they will first try to look online, and if the resume is strong will call and try to know the person and build a relationship. They will look on linkedin, check who the person is connected to, ask a few questions about the person through a common connection. Hence the linked profile is a must. This candidate will also have to be very good at answering the technical questions. That’s going to be her strength and when the recruiters call her, she should focus on her strength and take one step at a time to get to the next step. There’s always a client who is looking exactly for this kind of profile, it’s just a matter of time.

The challenge for the first person – just because she knows a lot of people does not mean that she will land a job. Most of the time, networking helps but takes a long time to come to fruition. One should not just depend on the same but be more proactive.

Now, the challenges faced by the three people are slightly different, but they each need to think out of the box, and be more proactive, especially in this economy.

What does being proactive mean?

Do not feel shy or afraid of letting people know that you are looking for a job.

Yes – as listed above networking might take time but you never know who could introduce you to an opportunity. So be a proactive networker, and seek opportunities to meet new people, especially in your field and industry.Approach people you have worked with or for before. They might know of someone hiring.

Then there are the regular tasks such as creating profiles, agents in job engines, etc.

As many other sources mention, target the 'hidden' jobs. These are 'needs'/ positions that a company has, but not yet advertised. The only way to come across these would be to network with people within that company, department and/or team.

Create a 'need' or position. Let me explain what this means: Look for companies/ entities in your field/ domain and understand their business, and follow the news in the market. Develop acquaintances in the company, if possible. Now look for any ways you can add value to their team by your unique skills or experiences. This need not be a position they have yet, but you can make them aware of their 'need' and missing value, and then position yourself as someone who can fill in that void. Accepted, it is difficult, but a sure shot way to enhance your reputation in that firm. They will remember you, even if there is no immediate action or result. This approach is what most of the consultants do.

I was at the Society of Exploration and Geophysicist this year and one of the candidates was very impressive. He understood what we do and started providing us different resources to look out for. And concluded the meeting by saying, if any of my resources help out then please recommend me in Linked in. Well, did that make a difference, I definitely think so. I still remember him out of the several others I spoke to.

Differentiate yourself

Give yourself an edge. How would you do this? Listed are some ways. Join sites such as Not many people are ready to spend, and employers/ recruiters know that the ones who do end up as members are serious about seeking opportunities.

This way, you reduce quite some competition. not only gives a great place to look for jobs but also comes up with great blogs, which are good value add reads. We have no affiliation with Ladder’s; I just thought that it was a good place for a job search.

Nowadays – most of the people have linked in profiles, but not all do the due diligence it takes to have the profile complete and impressive. There are several blogs/articles on how to – so will not repeat that here. Search for these and ensure that your profile is as complete as you can get. Make sure you list your important accomplishments for each job (versus elaborating a lot about duties and responsibilities). It's the results and accomplishments which are going to draw interested employers and recruiters. Check the Gen Y sites/ideas. There are some very unique ideas out there. Such as

Videos. (Now we have a lot to say about the pros and cons of videos. This will be listed in the following articles)

Next Generation Profile pages including your sample work or an actual video clip of you troubleshooting something or creating something. I know that this idea makes sense for certain categories for jobs, but not all; but it’s worth some thought.

For executive/senior management candidates - Take psychology and analytical exams beforehand, have your scores listed.

Go to Conferences

Yes – some are expensive – But it will eventually pay off. I personally know of a person who was selected to give a talk on a topic. But before she started her talk, she introduced herself and also said that she is looking for her next big opportunity. Just the act of being so courageous and bold, had people going and talking to her after her presentation.

Of course – this is more for an active search candidate. Passive search candidates have to maintain their confidentiality so there are different ways – which we can describe in following articles.

This article does not go into several other topics such as Social networking tools that can be used for job searches, giving presentations on topics at conferences, keeping yourself involved in certain activities to not get too depressed – helping your friend who is trying to start a company is one of the ways to keep yourself engaged. Or creating a webpage and helping a nonprofit can be another way. All of this and more to follow in our upcoming articles.