How to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

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It’s a tough world out there. But one good thing to come out of Covid is that it resulted in a lot of people rethinking their current roles. That means there is a lot out there, but there are also a lot of people looking. If you’re thinking of moving on, take a look at our guide to see how you can stand out – the right way!


A lot of people say, and might even think, they know what they’re doing when it comes to CVs, but if you were to talk to a recruitment agency or your HR department, you’d probably get some bizarre stories about gimmick resumes, people handing in rejection letters written in “You’re too good for us” as a good review and even things like printed photos of a CV. Don’t be those people.

A resume has a very simple and restrictive format. Stick to it. You want to stand out for your accomplishments, not a reason to make your employer laugh.

Save the gimmicks for the portfolio. If you want to showcase your skills and talents more practically, that’s where you can do it.

Set up either a professional social media account or website. Website builders are quite simple and if your skills have any visual element to them whatsoever, you’ve got a great place to showcase all your work.

Business attire

Depending on the industry, you’re going to want to dress smart for your interview. This needs a degree of judgment. There is no point in showing up in covering up tattoos for a role as a tattoo artist, for example. But more conservative industries and general companies take “professionalism” seriously.

Business professional attire is the go-to in these conditions. It’s a little more subjective for women. You have options that range from pencil skirts, at different lengths, blazers or cardigans, blouses, or…well any number of top variations. Business professional attire in men is easier to narrow down. It’s quite limiting, but that means less space for interpretation. The best thing to go with here is a dark suit, either in blue, black, or grey, add a tie, professional shoes and if you’ve got a decent haircut, you’re done.

If you’re a woman, keep makeup simple with any boldness going into the lips, and if you’re not, again, unless the industry welcomes such things, keep the makeup at home. Progress is made slowly.

Answering questions

If you manage to get an interview for your dream job, make sure to do your research. You will need to study the company you are applying for and the questions around the role you are applying for.

For the company, you want to know more than what the About Us page on their company websites. Take a look at the company’s purpose, usually found in a white paper. Note down what drives them, what the “mission” is, what makes them stand out from others, and what challenges they are facing.

Start by typing their name into Google under the News tab. You might get a mixed bag but mentioning a bad news story from a “that seems like a challenge I can help with” perspective will show that you’re in the know and willing to help. If it’s good news, mention that you were impressed by it.

Take a look at competitors, too. You can point out what you think they are doing differently that works and how you might navigate that in this role. Expand into the industry as a whole and ask yourself (or Google) what the industry provides, what is highest in demand, what are the latest developments, etc.

All of this goes for networking opportunities too. Go in there knowing what you want to say, and it’ll show that you know what you’re talking about.


So now you know how to stand out, you need somewhere to stand out. Networking seems like a fading concept, or exclusively left to Wall Street and politicians gabbing in the nearest bar, but you’d be surprised at the number of opportunities there are.

First, there is the online opportunity. Fix up your LinkedIn account to get networking online. Another overlooked platform is Meetup, which typically markets itself as a way to make friends, but it also hosts business meetups. There are also virtual networking events, where you can take part without even leaving your home. They’ve gained momentum since lockdown, so take advantage and look up web conferencing near you.

Take a look at job fairs, professional associations, public speaking events, and professional conferences to find people to network with. Don’t go in talking about how you need work, however. Don’t even mention the idea of a job. Instead, engage on other topics, and impress with your discussion. When you’re done, you can follow up with a letter that forwards the article you mentioned, the concept you were talking about in more detail, etc.

Even if you don’t get a job out of it, networking can help you get advice from industry peers and higher-ups, and you can gain a chance to develop your career or move out of entry-level spaces, or even change careers entirely.

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