The numbers are in. And if you’re a job seeker, they’re a mixed bag. According to the most recent report by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the “median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employers was 4.2”. Breaking it down a bit further, the median tenure was higher among older workers, with workers ages 55 to 64 having a median tenure of 10.1 years. At the other end of the spectrum, we have workers ages 25 to 34 having a median tenure of 2.8 years.

The upside: If you are considering a job change after a limited amount of time in your current role, you are less likely to be negatively viewed as a “job hopper.” In the past, job hoppers were less desirable hires because they demonstrated a lack of commitment and were not a wise investment of time and resources. In recent years, though, there has been a significant shift in attitude regarding job-hopping.  First, when done correctly, a new employee may bring with him or her a large network of potential clients and collaborators. Secondly, having had experience in a variety of roles and even industries, your diverse background may be very intriguing to some companies.

The downside: There are potentially even more job seekers flooding the market. Competition for top roles will be that much fiercer. Potentially, many of these candidates will have more experience, skills, and accomplishments to fatten-up their resumes.

So what can YOU do to stand out in the crowded job market?

Here’s what the experts say…

1. Stand out before you step in. There isn’t a recruiter or hiring manager out there who isn’t using LinkedIn to source candidates. “As of April 2016, LinkedIn has over 433 million users… [with] 2 new users every second.” Therefore, it is imperative that your profile stand out and be easily found among the crowd. Your Summary and Experience is the place to do this. Be sure to make your Summary keyword-rich, list your specialties, and include video or other media. Use the Experience portion of your profile to really shine. Your accomplishments should always be first, followed by your responsibilities. Awards, promotions, funds saved or income increased, special projects you’ve worked on- these are all gold stars on your resume and will help you shine before they schedule your first interview.

2. Solicit Recommendations. Recommendations aren’t some silly add-on LinkedIn threw in. They matter. Research shows that LinkedIn Profiles with recommendations are three times more likely to get inquiries through LinkedIn searches. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from people you reported to or senior people in the organization. If you are searching for a managerial role, include recommendations from past team members.

3. Research the interviewer. It’s standard practice to do some research about the company; but have you invested time into researching the people conducting the interview? As recruiters, we get the “inside scoop” on what makes a good interview. We are told that, without fail, candidates who researched the interviewers and/or senior members of the organization stand out. They are able to find a connection, be it schooling, activities, or past jobs, which makes the interview run more smoothly and allows the candidate to interact more naturally, giving the interviewer an authentic view of who they are. Read their blogs, follow them on Twitter, etc. Perhaps he or she previously held the role you are interviewing for.This presents you with a great opportunity to ask questions.

4. They need you as much as you need them. Chances are, there will be at least a dozen other candidates whose resume reads similarly to yours. But there is something you have that they don’t… Now it’s up to you to find it and sell it in your interview. Clients have told us repeatedly, that candidates who walk into an interview knowing their differentiator, have their full attention. Study the role in-depth, identify the problem they are looking to solve and the goals they are expecting to meet. Now, show them how your experience and accomplishments can be utilized to make that happen.

5. Come in with a plan. Any solid job description includes a detailed outline of goals and expectations. And because your pre-interview research was so thorough, *hint hint* you are fully versed in both. A recent client shared that one of our candidates arrived to the interview with a 30, 60, and 180-day plan outlining how she was going to meet the company’s goals. As it was a marketing role, she researched previous marketing strategies that were both successful and unsuccessful for the company. She identified short-term and long-term strategies to continue the existing strategy’s success, as well as new ones to continue growth and address potential problems.

6. Don’t forget the manners your mother taught you. The great Thank You card debate rages on. What was once a little something “extra” to make yourself stand out, quickly became a job search standard. However, regardless of how common it may be, a personal handwritten note makes you stand out. Want to make an even better impression? Reference something from the interview in your Thank You card. Here are a few more great ideas for a classy follow-up. 

Both passive and active candidates are feeling empowered by the improving economy, making them more comfortable with launching their job search. That’s why it is essential for you to take the experts’ advice and stand out from the crowd.

On the flip side: If you’re the one doing the hiring, check out my new book LinkedIn Hiring Secrets for Sales & Marketing Leaders for tips on how to leverage your LinkedIn Profile to attract High Performers.

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