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How to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

Published: March 8, 2021

In case you haven’t already discovered, it’s not that easy to find a job during a pandemic. And whether you’re ready to reenter the workforce, find a new job, or switch into a whole new career, the job market may be more competitive than when you last entered it. If you want to beat out other job candidates, you’ll need the right skills, credentials, and experience to stand out from the crowd.

Get an Education in the Field

The best job candidate will be the one who possesses the skills that the job requires. That means you need to have appropriate credentials that you can highlight on your resume, in a conversation, and on a job interview. Do you? If not, check out schools that offer training and certifications that will complement the kind of job you want. For example, if you want to work in Business, get a business degree. If you want to move up the ladder in an HVAC career, an Associate Degree in Applied Technology will provide you with additional knowledge and help you excel over job candidates who have only a certificate.

Gain Relevant Job Experience

A good training program may also offer you opportunity to gain experience through an externship. That way you can get real-world exposure to the industry under the guidance of professionals. You’ll gain some valuable hands-on experience and get to dip your toes into the career before it’s fully yours. Another way to get experience is to volunteer in roles that might mirror the responsibilities you’ll see in your career. For example, if you’re the bookkeeper for the PTO, that’s experience that is well-suited for Business.

Build a Better Resume

It’s not enough to have experience; you need to show it on your resume. Customize your resume and your cover letter to the job you’re seeking. Include your education, experience, volunteer efforts, and any transferable skills you may have gained from other jobs. Transferable skills may include communication, customer service, or organization. It could also include computer skills or proficiency with a particular software.

Network with Other Professionals

Another way to stand out is to already have contacts in the industry you hope to enter. And the best way to do that is by networking now. Stay in touch with people in your professional network and reach out to new contacts. Attend in-person or virtual career events, get on LinkedIn, and get your name out there.

Do Well in the Job Interview

Make a good impression on your job interview. Arrive on time, dressed professionally, and well-prepared. Then, follow up with an email to thank the interviewers for their time. Follow these tips to stand out even more:

  • Be Friendly — You should act like a professional, but that doesn’t mean you have to be stiff in the interview. Be friendly and show a little bit of your personality. Show the interviewers that you are a person they’d like to work with.
  • Practice Interview Questions — You’ll never know what you may be asked in an interview, but you can still prepare ahead of time. Google a list of the most commonly asked interview questions for the role and prepare answers to them. Chances are, a few of them will be asked and you’ll be ready.
  • Remain Calm—It’s easier said than done, but don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Remember that the people who interview you had to go through the same process. And if you make a mistake, that’s okay. Just start your answer over.

You can also stand out from other candidates if you show what you know about the industry during the interview. This is especially helpful if you want to switch careers. It shows that you are more than interested in your field—you’re committed. If you want to work in healthcare, for instance, you could talk about the COVID-19 vaccines. Or, if you want to work in IT, you could talk about the latest iOS updates.


If you’re ready to start a new career, we’re ready to help. Charter College has a variety of certificate and degree programs in Business, Health Care, Information Technology, Veterinary Assistant, and some Trades. We also offer Career Services to help you prepare for the job hunt—from resume and cover letter workshops to mock interviews. Call us today at 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.