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Differentiating Yourself From the Flock Print
Written by Abby Kohut   

As a blogger, topics come to me like flashes of insight as I go about my day. Last week, I discovered a lesson for all of you as my husband and I were feeding a bunch of swans in a large pond in Brooklyn. Now how could this possibly be a lesson for job seekers, you ask? Stay tuned.

Those of you, who live in big cities where swans exist only on greeting cards, should still be able to relate to the experience of feeding a flock of pigeons. If you've spent time in Australia, think of the joy of feeding a troop of kangaroos. Others who have lived in Africa may relate to hand feeding a streak of wild tigers.

The animal kingdom survives by mirroring. If one animal sees food, he slowly approaches it and then attacks. The others naturally follow in the same way. As humans we tend to work the same way. We look around at the ways other people are searching and applying for jobs and search and apply the same way. We figure that what works for someone else should work for us.

The problem with this approach is competition. The swans I was feeding were huddled together all fighting for the same loaf of bread I was feeding them. Some swans were simply better at grabbing the food and got more to eat. While others, simply less lucky, did not get any at all.

You are going to have to do things differently than the flock in order to get noticed.

Most candidates these days are still sending generic cover letters. How do I know? I still receive them. Most people do not spend the time identifying the name of the hiring manager by using Google or LinkedIn, and even if they do find it, they still send a generic cover letter that does not explain why they want THIS job in THIS company.

Since most applicants apply for jobs via the web, you might also try to catch the hiring manager's eye by also sending a resume in via snail mail. Hiring managers are generally not receiving anything in the mail aside from bills and sales brochures so the infrequent resume on a nice bond paper is a breath of fresh air. Plus it's human nature to enjoy opening mail, isn't it? Be sure to also apply using the methods requested by the employer so that you are not seen as being defiant.

While most candidates nowadays have a profile on LinkedIn, they are not using it to get introduced to hiring managers. How do I know this? Because I have 2100+ connections on LinkedIn, and yet I only receive one request for an introduction every few weeks or so. I am an open networker which means that not only am I happy to accept any and all invitations, I am also willing to introduce you to any of my connections via LinkedIn requests. If you start using this technique, you will stand out from the crowd.

While many people are using LinkedIn, very few are using Twitter for job searching. Some of you have set up a Twitter account, but you are not sure what to do with it now that you have it. On my next Career Wake Up Call, I'll tell you about a special tele-seminar I'm currently developing with a fellow Twitter expert from which you'll learn how to get more of Twitter during your job search. Between myself and this expert, we know several people who have successfully landed a job with this heavily underutilized resource. After that call, you won't have any doubts that you should be tweeting every day.

Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
In the early 2000's, being one of the flock may have been good enough. You would apply for 15 jobs, have 5 interviews and get 2 offers with negotiable salaries and bonuses. Times have changed. These days, it takes out of the box thinking to get an edge on the competition. People who take chances will be rewarded. Fed ex your resume, drop off your resume by hand, and use other creative ways to get noticed. Before long, you will be singing your job search swan song.
 
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Drawn from my 18 years of experience and research in recruiting and Human Resources, my blog posts are intended to provide insight into what corporate recruiters and Human Resource professionals look for when they are evaluating your qualifications. Simply reading these blogs will not guarantee you success. However, consistently applying the strategies mentioned, as well as developing your own personal interview style, will greatly enhance your chances of victory amidst the competition. I wish you the best of luck with your search as you begin to take charge of your career!