How to Stand Out In a Crowded Field of Job Candidates

Nina Vaca Blog

In my time as CEO at Pinnacle I have hired hundreds of people to work here. In fact, I think that hiring the right people is the most important thing you can do for your company. Company culture lives and dies by the people you place on your team.

But let’s say you are on the other end of the spectrum: You’re hunting for a job. This is a daunting experience with lots of pitfalls. It can seem like so much stands between you and the job you really want.

Confidence can take you a long way. You should be proud of what you’ve done so far in your career, or, if you just graduated, of the hard work you put in to get a degree. So keep your head up and stay positive!

Here are some of my best tips to help you get out there and find the gig that’s right for you.

1. Get Out and Meet People

Professional skills, enthusiasm, and strong work ethic can definitely help you succeed in your career. But to launch a career in the first place, you’ll need to find the right company where you can put those skills and talents to good use. That’s why developing a personal network of connections and relationships with a variety of people is critical. Before even beginning your search, sit down and think about the working professionals you know. Are any of them in a field similar to where you would like to work?

In college you were hopefully developing a list of contacts that you met on campus and through your other activities. If so, reach out to some of those people and just see how they can help you. Be specific in your asks though. Don’t just say “Can you help me?” Instead, ask them for a specific introduction if you need one. Or ask them if they have advice on how to break into a certain industry. Don’t be overly pushy or annoying, but instead come at it with a sense of humility. Remind the person how you guys met, give a brief description of your qualifications and what you are looking for, and then make your ask.

Most people will be willing to help out if they can, just keep in mind that people are busy and may not have time. If they can’t or don’t help you this time, don’t write them off. The networks you build over time may not immediately pay off, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it. It took over a decade for a connection of mine to be the first person to nominate me to be on the board of a publicly traded company. When the timing is right your work in building a network will pay off. Meeting people and networking is one of the most important things you can do in your career!

2. Practice Makes Perfect

The interview is clearly one of the most important, not to mention stressful, parts of the hiring process. With enough time and attention, anyone can make a resume look and appear second-to-none. But the interview is where the rubber meets the road.

Candidates really show me who they are, how much they know, and how they would fit in the dynamic and entrepreneurial culture of Pinnacle Group during the interview process. In other words, your interview is your chance to demonstrate not only your skills, knowledge, and desire to learn, but your soft skills, personality, and even sense of humor.

While you always want to be yourself and never sound scripted, it also helps to practice your interview skills before the big day. Study the company, make sure you’re ready to talk about your strengths, and prepare yourself for any questions that might come your way.

Your answers should always sound confident, concise, intelligent, and authentic. You should also have several questions prepared for the interviewer. This shows that you’ve done your homework. Bringing in ideas for how you could help improve the company in some specific way could go a long way in showing the value that you would add. It would also show that you are a forward thinker and the type of person that puts in the work to prepare.

3. The Power of a Thoughtful Thank You Note

At Pinnacle, every time we interview a potential candidate, we wait to see if they send us a thank you email or note as a follow-up. Sending a thoughtful note after your job interview should become your standard practice. Through a thank you note you are creating a positive impression with the interviewer, further emphasizing your continued interest in the job, and ensuring that you’re top of mind.

If you have time, a handwritten thank you note is even more powerful . However, that isn’t always possible as the job process can move very quickly these days. An email is typically good enough, so long as it’s thoughtful and specific.

You wouldn’t believe how many candidates don’t send a thank you email. It’s such a simple thing, but it shows so much about your character.

There are so many other tips for job-seekers, but these three should get you on the right track in your hunt for your future career.

Watch this space for more career advice from the Pinnacle team!