It's a competitive job market out there -- the unemployment rate is still flirting with 10 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- and you can bet the seasonal employment pool will be well-stocked with qualified candidates come holiday time. How can you set yourself apart from other applicants?
1. Stay reasonable
Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam staffing service, reports that a recent survey by the company found applicants willing to wield any weapon in their arsenal to stand out -- from spritzing resumes with perfume to parking them inside toy trucks.
However, Hosking maintains, "While unconventional methods can be hit or miss, one surefire way to stand out is by going the extra mile to showcase your skill set, professionalism and enthusiasm for the position."
He said the executives surveyed responded most to those candidates who offered excellent references and could demonstrate actual achievements. "No matter how relevant or impressive your skill set, employers want to see how your expertise and efforts will affect the company's bottom line."
2. Do your homework
Even though the job is seasonal (and temporary), you need to prepare for the interview, advises Dianne Shaddock Austin, principal of Easy Small Business HR.com. "Do your research on the company or the industry and be prepared to provide actual or hypothetical work-related examples that highlight your understanding of the job or the industry," she recommends.
3. Conduct market research
Kim N. Carswell, founder of Persona Affairs, LLC, advocates preparing your own personal brand statement or elevator pitch to fit each company's brand message. "It shouldn't include 'I just need a job'" she says, but should highlight your commitment. For example, "I'm open to full time employment once my competency has been demonstrated." Carswell also suggests branding each of your resumes based on accomplishments, credentials, and overall potential to make it employer-friendly. "Tweak resumes for each company and include social media marketing ability if applicable," she says.
4. Polish your appearance
Carswell says it's important to dress appropriately, even if you are interviewing at a retail store. Your presentation doesn't end there. "Have your resume printed on bonded paper to leave with a manager even if they have an online application." She also suggests asking for a business card to follow-up via e-mail within 72 hours with resume attachment. "Don't forget to make a mental note of the operations (mood, customer service, product line, etc.) to comment on your visit in your note," says Carswell.
5. Show commitment
Even though the job is seasonal, Shaddock Austin cautions applicants not to say they're only interested in a temporary position until something else in their field comes along. "Every hiring manager wants to know that you are excited about their job, no matter how mundane the role may be. They don't want to feel like you're only interested until something better comes along," she notes.
6. Go the extra mile
Personal gestures can go a long way, whether you are just beginning to network or after you've been interviewed. Taking time to find out more about the potential employer's business, names of top executives, and who competitors are, can all be useful in setting yourself apart during initial conversations – especially if you've reached out via social media. Hosking says one executive really liked when the job seeker turned the table and wanted to know all about him. "The tactic worked," he admitted.
After you've snagged an interview, Hosking says remember to send a thank-you note or a pertinent news article to follow up. "It can make a lasting, positive impression," he underscores.
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