Finding a job has become increasingly difficult. 

Despite “business as usual” for some industries, overall hiring has slowed since March. Job postings were down 29% in June 2020, as compared to the same time in 2019. And in Houston, 35% of jobs were impacted by COVID-19.

In the midst of the downturn and more people flooding the job market, it has become more difficult for job seekers to stand out. Extensive skills and experience don’t guarantee an interview, even with an above-average resume.

That’s why out-of-the-box strategies for job hunting can pay off. I recommend the following five methods to break through and separate yourself from the pack.  

 

1. Target executives

It may be counterintuitive, but the higher you go up in the chain at a company, the more likely you are to get a response. Approach executives with a thoughtful email clearly highlighting how you’re going to add value to their company and you’ll be surprised how many will respond. 

Executives are busy, but one of the ways they got to where they are is by being efficient with their time. It’s well known how responsive billionaire businessman Mark Cuban is over email. Same with the late Steve Jobs

Why are executives more likely to respond? Because they feel the pain of unfilled positions most acutely. If a project can’t be completed, it’s the executive who feels the greatest pinch from the loss of revenue. 

Start by making a list of companies where you would like to work. For each company, find the executive(s) who relate to the type of position you want. 

This executive might be the CEO, CFO, or COO. Find their email through online tools such as Twitter’s advanced search or Hunter.io. 

Draft an email to the executive. DON’T simply ask if they’re hiring or send your resume. Instead, highlight key results from past positions. What unique skills can you bring to the table? 

Also, don’t give up after the first email. One small business owner sent 380 emails to Marcus Lemonis, CEO of the Camping World and star of The Profit, before securing a meeting and funding. 

 

2. Create content  

Do you have a blog? Have you written articles on LinkedIn? Establish your credibility by writing content and demonstrating that you’re a subject matter expert. 

You may attract potential recruiters/hiring managers, but at minimum, the visibility will pay off when recruiters and hiring managers are doing their research on your candidacy for a role. Hiring managers will see your thoughtful articles, helping you stand out from competitors. 

Choose a content creation platform such as your own blog, Medium, or LinkedIn. Brainstorm articles that you’re uniquely qualified to write. 

For example, if you’re a sales manager, you could write about effective cold calling tips. If you’re a project manager, you might create a comprehensive guide to project road mapping.

These articles don’t have to be long (e.g. 500+ words), but make sure that the ideas are coherent and that the grammar/spelling is accurate. Focus on the quality of content and share your unique perspective or experience to shine as a thought leader

 

3. Establish relationships through social media

Connect with people in your career field via social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. With this approach, you can show your work and experience in an organic way and catch the eye of recruiters and hiring managers. And the more active you are, the more likely you are to see shared job postings. 73% of millennials found their last position through social media. 

Which platforms are best? I’m a big fan of establishing relationships via Twitter. The platform makes it easy to access almost anyone within an organization. Users tend to be responsive and you can quickly build a following. On LinkedIn, you can also easily comment and engage with content.

Before jumping into posts and comments, first make sure that your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles are polished and professional. 

Next, join relevant LinkedIn groups that align with your skills. Follow thought leaders and companies on Twitter within your career field. Set aside at least an hour per week to interact with people on these platforms such as via comments. 

When interacting, don’t try to sell your skills. Instead, participate in conversations. Answer questions. Ask for advice. Most importantly, be authentic. This approach can quickly catch the eye of a recruiter and others within a company. 

 

4. Offer to take on a project

Most executives have a nagging project they would like to take off their plate. And completing a task may be the best way to show potential employers your skills in action. 

If you have the time and resources to be able to take on a quick project, the initiative will help set you apart from other candidates. 

Consider it to be a “job audition.” The project might be something that takes you a few hours, but most job seekers won’t do it. You’ll immediately have a leg up.

Ask the hiring manager or a company executive what project they have that you could assist with – at no cost to them. Once they respond, outline how you would approach completing the project and results you’ve had with similar work. 

As an example, maybe the executive has to write an article for a major publication. If your expertise is in content marketing, offer to write the piece. Send samples of similar work and a bullet point outline of how you would approach the article. If approved, write and send. 

You might have to negotiate a realistic, 2-3 hour project (you probably don’t want a project that will take 10-20 hours). Such an assignment can quickly demonstrate your unique skills as a potential employee, as well as give you a glimpse of what working with the company would be like. 

 

5. Have your resume professionally written

As someone who runs a professional resume writing service, I recognize that this recommendation may appear self-serving – but the fact is, most professionals don’t write resumes for a living and most candidates only update their resume when they’re seeking a job. 

Unfortunately, 75% of resumes are rejected before they reach the hiring manager. Resume writers know how to effectively structure a resume, while bringing out and emphasizing information that hiring managers find most compelling. 

Even the most experienced executives turn to resume writers to help give them an edge in the job marketplace.

Reach out to a qualified professional resume writing service. At ResumeSpice, we require that you first complete a quick questionnaire to better understand your skills and experience. You can then schedule a conversation with a resume expert and share details about your career objectives. 

With this information, the resume expert can create a personalized resume draft within two business days for your review. Two rounds of revisions are built into the process. After any revisions, your resume is ready to send to potential employers. 

This approach has proven results. Job seekers with professionally written resumes found a job at a 35% higher rate than those who didn’t.

 

Think outside the box

Hundreds of qualified people will often apply for the same job. But out of these hundreds, how many will take the time and initiative to truly highlight their skills and experience? Stand out in today’s competitive job market by taking a creative approach to job hunting.