As an adult, you’re faced with the cruel reality that there is always going to be someone better at something than you are. When pursuing a career-- whether as an entrepreneur trying to land clients or trying to climb the corporate ladder to the executive floor-- you’re often competing with multiple people who have the same skill set, more experience or a better resume.
When this happens, you can still get the job. It’s all about presenting yourself in the best light possible. Here are a few techniques you can use to showcase your value when the competition is fierce.
Let Your Enthusiasm Shine Through
If you’re excited about a job opportunity or new client, bring that enthusiasm to the table during your interview. Doing so means not only showing your excited emotions but putting in the work to back it up. Take time to prepare and conduct research about the job or client that you’re hoping to land. Bring solutions to the table to address problems you could decipher from your research.
For example, if you’re applying for a marketing position within a fast-paced food production company, highlight some of the marketing efforts they’ve made in the past and give them specific examples of what you admired. Alternatively, if you’re a marketing entrepreneur looking to land that same client, highlight things they’ve done well and how you could help them make it better.
Hiring managers and decision makers are always impressed by someone who invests time in learning more about an organization before applying.
Don’t Rely on Your High-Profile Education
Many graduates make the mistake of relying on an education from a high-profile university to get them through the door. While the name on a resume might open the door for an interview, the work doesn’t stop there. Consider this case study:
An organization was looking to add someone to their Innovation and New Product Development department. The hiring process came down to two candidates: one with a community college education in marketing and two years of experience in the field before shifting to other things and one who graduated from a prominent university with the same amount of experience, but more recent.
The first candidate got the job.
Candidate number one was able to make connections from experience in various fields that, at a glance on a resume, weren’t clearly connected. However, her experience in analytics from accounting and grant research from her time in nonprofits gave her more practical experience for the position overall.
The key takeaway here is that hiring managers and potential clients want to hear about your experience beyond what’s written on paper. It’s your job to figure out how you can make a connection between your various experiences and what the decision maker needs to fill a role.
Ask and Follow Up
Asking questions is an effective way to set yourself apart from the competition. Be creative and think outside the box when initiating questions. Ask things like:
What is the main problem that you hope I will be the solution for?
What does a typical day in this role look like?
What are some challenges faced by my predecessor?
How will accomplishing this goal help change the business over the next five years?
What are your expectations for this role?
What is your organizational culture like?
What does your business/ brand value?
What does your ideal client/ provider workflow look like?
Why should I work for this business rather than another?
Depending on whether you’re looking for a position or a client, the questions may change. What’s important is asking something poignant and memorable, that the hiring manager will take home with them at the end of the day.
When coming up with creative questions, don’t forget the most important question of all: ask for the position. At the end of your meeting, reiterate your desire for this position and ask that they consider you for the job. This will end your meeting on a positive note and highlight you as someone worth considering. Follow up to thank your interviewers for their time and consideration.
Work with a Mentor or Coach
Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?
It can be challenging to take an objective look at oneself and determine how your skills can carry forward into new opportunities and what aspects of yourself are holding you back. Working with a mentor or coach can help you prepare for these scenarios, going through potential questions, practicing mock interviews, and getting more comfortable with yourself before presenting the full package to others.
Being prepared is going to be your best weapon against competition with more impressive accolades and experience. Working with a mentor or coach can help you walk into your interview with complete confidence in your abilities and the right words to say to get the role you want.
Don’t Worry About the Competition
The number one most important factor of dealing with competition is to not worry about them. As an entrepreneur, you’ll always want to be aware of who your competition is and what they’re doing. When applying for a job within an organization, you won’t have that luxury. Either way, the main focus of your energy should not be on who is doing something better, but rather what you can do to better yourself.
Keep a positive mindset when applying for a role. Rather than focusing on your shortcomings, create a positive mantra outlining the incredible things of which you are capable. Let your light shine through, and your future will be bright and full of opportunity.