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4 ways to beat the competition in your 2021 job hunt

Focused Indian woman using laptop at home, looking at screen, chatting, reading or writing email, sitting on couch, serious female student doing homework, working on research project online
Here's how to beat the competition and ensure you land an interview. (Source: Getty)

As the world shakes off 2020 and economists forecast a strong rebound, many are feeling hopeful about their career prospects in the new year.

While there are still just shy of a million unemployed Australians, if you’re on the hunt for a new job, there are some ways you can ensure you stand out.

According to Australia’s top recruitment experts, flexibility, a strong resume, a bit of networking and online job profiles will serve jobseekers well in the face of stiff competition.

Broaden your horizons

The first step to your job hunt is ensuring you haven’t boxed yourself in. With so many industries and business sectors still heavily impacted by the pandemic, it may pay to cast a wider net and be open to jobs you might not have considered previously.


“My top tip to job-hunters is to challenge yourself to keep an open mind and remain flexible throughout your job search,” Adecco Australia managing director Kelly Van Nelson told Yahoo Finance.

“Take the time to understand which of your skills are currently most in demand across the entire job market – not just within your industry – and then focus on how you might be able to bring these skills into roles and industries that you may not have traditionally considered for yourself.

“This is an ideal time to aim to open new doors, in addition to re-approaching old ones,” she said.

Show off your experience

To make it to the interview stage, you have to look good on paper first. What’s written on your resume will speak volumes, so make every word count to showcase what you’re capable of and what you’ve already achieved.

“To stand out from the crowd you need to highlight your nominated industry experience. Employers are less willing to take a chance on someone at the moment, so you need to make sure you highlight relevant applicable industry experience on your CV,” said Hays Australia and New Zealand managing director Nick Deligiannis.

This also means going back to basics: review and rewrite your resume if you need to, with a focus on framing your previous achievements in numbers and figures where possible.

“Employers today want proof that you could do the job well. They aren’t willing to take a chance on an unproven performer, which is why it’s important to demonstrate the relevance of your experience and the value you could bring to their organisation,” he added.

Were you responsible for significant growth in sales, website visitors or several projects or team members? How many? Make sure these details are included in your resume.

“Impactful numbers are very compelling in the context of a CV and allow you to undeniably prove that your experience makes you the right person for the job.”

SEEK human resources director Kathleen McCuddenn also said demonstrating your leadership capabilities would catch the attention of recruiters.

“Recruiters and employers are often impressed with leadership skills so make a note of this in your application,” she told Yahoo Finance.

Including soft skills and technical skills – along with relevant examples – will lend more weight to your resume, too.

Get networking

For many, networking is a dreaded term or concept, but if you’re looking for new work opportunities, it’s worthwhile drawing on relationships with old contacts or former colleagues.

“Most jobs are still filled by word of mouth so networking is vitally important. It just looks a bit different in the virtual world,” LinkedIn Australia career expert Shiva Kumar said.

For those who are intimidated by the prospect of reaching out to strangers, ShareRoot CEO Michelle Gallaher told Yahoo Finance in 2019 that there were two types of networking: to reinforce relationships, and to expand your circle of influence. Both types require different kinds of behaviours and approaches, she said.

According to leadership development expert and career coach Michelle Sales, your best bet is to be memorable.

“Think about how you speak about yourself. How you introduce yourself, how do you find interesting elements of what you're doing, why you're doing it, what you're passionate about – that is [more] interesting than introducing yourself by saying what your job title is, because that is pretty boring,” she said.

Be online

The recruiters also reminded Australians of the value in an updated, polished digital resume, such as a profile on LinkedIn, Seek or Indeed.

“Employers can refer to your profile when assessing your suitability for a role by proactively searching through your skills and experience,” said McCudden.

“So the more relevant information you include about yourself, the better your chances of standing out.”

Many job platforms that allow you to create a profile will also have a setting to indicate to employers that you are open to work. According to Kumar, those who use LinkedIn’s #OpenToWork photo frame actually receive 40 per cent more messages from recruiters.

Don’t forget to set up job alerts, too, and browse company profile pages for any current openings.

“No matter what job site you’re using, be sure to take full advantage of the capabilities they offer, particularly at this time,” said Indeed head of career insights Jay Munro.

Finally, don’t forget to give your references a heads up.

“Make sure you select the right references who will be well-informed, and brief them on the role and why you’ve applied for it to ensure they speak to your strengths and why you’re the best candidate for the role,” Munro added.

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