Since You Asked: How To Be A Stand-Out Job Candidate

What to do to raise your game against stiff competition

I’m a 24-year-old public relations professional who has been laid off for seven months. I’ve been seeking employment and right now I’m freelancing as a writer and independent PR consultant. Things are really hard because I want to keep looking for a job but I keep getting looked over. What can I do to stand out to employers?

—A. Allen
Greensboro, NC

For every job available, there are countless qualified applicants to fill positions. Now more than ever, it’s critical to stand out to potential employers.

Firstly, your cover letter and résumé must specifically talk about why you’re interested in the job. On your résumé, avoid abstract words. Instead, write action words that describe concrete details of your professional experiences. As a PR professional you want to highlight client placements and the extent of your media contacts.
Secondly, you must be prepared for your interview. Research the company background and position you’re applying for and make sure to ask questions. Also, always dress in a professional manner (business formal or casual depending upon the company) because perception matters.

Thirdly, post-interview follow up is critical to show you’re serious about this job. Send individual thank you e-mails or cards to all people who interviewed you. Read How To Say It On Your Resume: A Top Recruiting Director’s Guide to Writing the Perfect Resume for Every Job by Brad Karsh and Courtney Pike (Penguin Group; $15.95).

This article originially appeared in the January 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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  • Ocie Richardson Sr

    The articles i’ve read hear today are so beautiful and true that i’ve just about stopped breathing, I’ve been unemployed since Oct, 31. 2010 and it has been a true stuggle to try and keep the promises you’ve made to your wife of 15 yrs. that you’ll provide and take care of her, knowing that things right now will not let it happen. I’m a 46yr old Married male just trying to make ends meet and no thats not happening. There is sort of a rebound though, I have an Idea that can bring jobs to m y area and would employ between 60- 100 people, the only downside to this is that, Forgetabout all that The articles are great and keep up the good work.