Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, its effect on the job market has been swift and severe. It is a frustrating time for anyone searching for employment or a career change. The high unemployment rate that the pandemic has created means that employers are being flooded with job applications, but don’t let this scare you off. If you take time to polish your job search skills, you can stand out from the others.

If you are embarking on a job search, patience is your first tool. Once you accept that this is a marathon and not a sprint, you simply need to focus and put a little ingenuity to work. Competition is fierce right now, so the key is to stand out from the crowd and get your application to the top of the pile. Consider these tips as you set out to find new employment.

1. The first step is landing a job interview. One of the most powerful tools in landing the interview that you want is networking. According to a LinkedIn survey, 85% of jobs are attained through networking. Begin with people you know but also reach out to contacts on employment networking sites. After you have made connections, be sure to follow up with them.

2. Ask questions that leave an impression. When you are interviewed for a position, you want to ask questions that show you have done your research and are interested in applying your skills to the position they are hiring for.

3. Be thorough with your answers. When a potential employer asks you questions, do not give generalized answers. Provide detailed examples from your past work experience that highlight the answer. Specificity can be the difference between you and dozens of others.

4. Don’t allow yourself to blend in. You always want to have a unique selling point that shows the potential employer that you are the best candidate for the job. Highlight educational and professional milestones that other applicants may not have achieved.

5. Wow them with your leadership abilities. Employers like to see job applicants with leadership skills. If you have been in charge of projects at previous jobs or attained any management experience, be sure to highlight those experiences.

As you set out to acquire a new job, do so with confidence, and keep these tips in mind. Be sure to keep an open mind, as you may come across an opportunity that you have never considered before. A recent Siliconrepublic article states, “The ongoing global situation has inevitably caused changes in demand across skills and industries, so try to be flexible and perhaps look outside your usual field.”

On top of flexibility, you also want to be able to think on your feet and not be caught off guard during a job interview. When you educate yourself on the specific jobs you are applying for, it allows you to think quickly when speaking with potential employers, so always be well-prepared.

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