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Getting Yourself Ready to Compete for a Better Job

Athletes who have a competition coming up will spend time preparing to perform at their best, especially if they are hoping to reach the next level of ability in their sport or place higher in the event. If you are thinking about going to the next level in your career or pursuing a better job, you want to think like an athlete and prepare yourself to edge out the competition.  

Begin your preparation or “training” before you even launch your job search and start sending resumes and making phone calls. Below are steps that will ensure you are ready for your new job search to begin:

1.  Make the commitment.

The job search process requires a substantial time commitment but also demands that you are “all in” for it to work in your favor.

You will need to carve out several hours each week to move the process forward. If you currently work full-time, that means spending time in the evenings and on weekends to research job openings and companies, write cover letters, customize and send resumes and prepare for interviews.

To ensure you can devote yourself to the process, assess your physical and mental states. Do you need a haircut or to neaten up some scruffy facial hair? What clothing do you have that will make a professional impression at a job interview? Mentally, how are you feeling about taking on the sometimes daunting task of job hunting? How is your confidence level? Are you feeling good about getting out there and competing for a better job? Make sure that both internally and externally, you are at your very best.

To ensure you convey a thoroughly professional image, make sure you have a professional-sounding email address such as and not something like or

2.  Create a job search plan.

It’s a good idea to create a plan for any major undertaking and that includes job hunting. You want to identify the positions, opportunities and companies (maybe the one where you already work) to pursue in the initial weeks of your job search and strategize your approach.

Carefully research the companies where you want to work and who are offering the positions you seek. Find out what the requirements are for the jobs or positions you’re interested in so you address them in your resume, cover letters and interviews. Delve into the company itself – its history, leadership and what it does/sells – so you are knowledgeable about who the company is whenever you communicate with them. You want them to be a fit for you as much as you want to be a fit for them. Customize each resume and cover letter you send for the company and position you’re pursuing, making sure to highlight the experience and qualifications that match the position description.

3.  Get ready for your close-up.

You may be contacted with little notice to do a phone interview or to go to the company’s offices for an in-person interview. For that reason, you want to prepare in advance to be interviewed. Develop your answers to the most commonly-asked interview questions, become comfortable talking about them, and line up examples of your work. Also, have questions of your own ready that demonstrate your knowledge of the company and the position as well as reinforce your interest.

On the day of the interview, you want to ensure a great first impression. No dirty fingernails, stained clothing or worn-out shoes. Make sure to bring extra copies of your resume and your list of references.

4.  Spruce up your online and social networking image.

It’s important to do an online search on your name to see what prospective employers will find when they do the same (and they WILL do a search on you). If you still have photos on Facebook of the drunken New Year’s party or of you posing in a way that may be considered inappropriate by a potential employer, you’ll want to remove (or hide) them. Same goes for any other posts or comments that will put you in a not-so-professional light.

5.  Prepare your references and former supervisors.

You can count on prospective employers to ask you for references, even early in the interview process. In addition to making sure you have a list prepared, you should alert the references themselves. Call them and inquire about serving as a reference. Discuss the companies and positions you are pursuing to ensure that your references’ comments will be nothing short of glowing. Make the same calls to your past supervisors, as they could also be contacted whether or not you list them as a reference.

6.  Develop a confident and positive mind set.

You’ve heard that positive thinking can lead to positive outcomes, right? Believe in yourself, your experience, skills and talents and use positive thinking to confirm to yourself that you are the best person for the job. Create a positive image in your mind of landing and even performing the job. When you walk into an interview presenting that confidence to everyone you meet, it makes a powerful impression and helps to generate the positive and confident responses and reactions you want to receive. Just don’t confuse confidence with arrogance – maintain a professional, ethical and gracious demeanor.

By understanding and following these steps before you officially start your job search, you’ll get more quickly to the finish line. You’ll not only see success in your job search activities, you’ll improve your chances of coming out a winner.

Emphasizing Your Personal Brand to Stand Out in the Job Market
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