Your 5 contenders and how to beat them in the job search

The competition is fierce and standing out from your contenders is becoming increasingly difficult. We believe everyone has their own individual values and traits, achievements and experience that can win over employers. Knowing you have a lot of competition when applying for a role can be daunting, but don't let that put you off. Stand by your accomplishments and bring values to the table that others may not have considered.

On every new hiring assignment, a certain few contenders always seem to crop up. Here's our perspective list of the types of contenders you may face in your job search and how you can overcome this competition to become a top contender.

1. The overachiever

Whether it's that guy from school who always got straight A's, or your friend that spent the entirety of their degree with their head stuck in a book, this individual has a resumé filled with top qualifications and high grades. However, this doesn't always mean that they have the right skills for the job. Employers like to see that you can handle the role, have invaluable interpersonal skills to work well in a team and be independent to work on individual assignments.

2. The know-it-all

The good news for you is that this candidate often shoots themselves in the foot before they begin. No matter how much experience, skills or qualifications that you have, if the interviewer doesn't like you then you will not get the job. Yes, it is good to come across as competent and confident, but you don't want the interviewer to think you are arrogant. Employers want to see that you are willing to learn and are open to new ideas so make sure to come across as open-minded and flexible.

3. The freestyler

This interviewee is the sort who walks into a presentation and glides their way through with no notes or preparation. Although this may work some of the time, it definitely isn't full-proof and can leave the candidate fumbling. Employers like to know that you are enthusiastic and hardworking, and often they can tell if you're playing it by ear. Before going into an interview, do your research on the company and think about the skills and qualities you have which will fit the role. By having some answers lined up in your head, you are prepared to bring the WOW factor to the interview. 

4. The over-preparer

Although you need to be prepared for an interview, there's a fine line between under and over-preparing, and some are miles away from it. You might think it's better to be overprepared, but this isn't always necessarily the case. Walking into an interview armed with pre-planned answers may cause you to fluff your lines, and you may forget to answer the question that the interviewer has asked you. There's also the chance that you come across as robotic – you want to seem like you know what you're talking about, and that means speaking with flow and ease.

5. The insider

Now, the insider is your real competition – otherwise known as the inside hire. This candidate already knows the company, the interviewer and understands what the role entails. But just remember, the employer wouldn't have looked outside the company if they thought they had the ideal candidate in-house. You could bring fresh insight and expertise to this role - just what the employer may be looking for.

How you can become a contender 

Professional networking

Did you know that 63% of all jobs are found through contacts? In a dream world, every hire would be based on merit alone, but unfortunately, the world isn't perfect – it really is all about who you know. You can put yourself miles ahead of any other candidate by getting yourself along to some networking events and meet people within the industry you're looking to get into. You could make some great connections who can engineer a meeting with a hot connection from their network. It can be daunting, although regular attendance becomes habit-forming. 

Using your online network 

In 2020, LinkedIn is your best asset for job hunting. Your LinkedIn is your brand, and you should use it to show off not only your greatest strengths but also your personality. With 70% of recruiters looking you up before hiring you, LinkedIn will be their first stop, so show them that you are interested in the industry. 

A results-orientated CV

A big mistake which many job hunters make is simply listing their roles and responsibilities on their CV. Your CV should showcase key achievements and how you have made a difference to an organisation in the past. For instance, instead of writing "team leadership", write about your team's successes and how you used people influencing skills to achieve growth. Any hiring manager will make decisions on what you can bring to their team based on examples provided.

Volunteer your skills

If you have buried your volunteering work to the extra-activities at the bottom of your CV, then think again.  The art of volunteering is reportedly far more effective than you might realise. A study compiled by Helene Jorgersen of Center for Economic and Policy Research revealed that people that volunteered between 20 and 100 hours in the year had roughly 7% more chance to be employed by the following year, compared to those that did not volunteer. By offering your skills and expertise, it will not only add to your experience but it will heighten your employability. 

Let your personality shine through

Last but definitely not least, the one thing that you have over any other candidate is your personality. You have your own unique experiences, insights and knowledge that you have gained over the years. So, let it shine through and be yourself. 

Whether your competition has a robotic tone of voice or is an actual robot, just remember to be yourself and follow these guidelines to get yourself ahead of the competition. To find out more about getting ahead in the recruitment process, read our article on job hunting… like you are dating.