By Jag Vootkur

The Good Men Project, April 28, 2018 —

These three job search tips will take you to the next level in all areas of your life and career.

Caiaimage Caiaimage/Agnieszka Olek. Getty Images

Competition is a major player in the talent market. In fact, Jobvite’s 2017 Job Seeker Nation Survey found that nearly one in four job seekers are at least slightly threatened by generation Z entering the workforce.

To stay competitive, people adopt this unique job search mentality that consists of a high level of clarity, persistence, and confidence. Then, they carry this same job seeker mentality in all areas of life.

Students in high school are already adopting this mentality before they hit the workforce because college admissions are getting more competitive. Universities are even adopting more holistic admissions processes. For example, the University of California recently introduced a personal insights section that focuses on a candidate’s life experience, ambitions, and interests.

Students and professionals, alike, can’t stay competitive if they lose this mentality and follow basic job search advice. And fresh, young talent is entering the workforce with an edge.

Here are job search tips to take to the next level and apply to all areas of your life and career:

Make personal branding more personal.

The value of personal branding cannot be debated. In fact, my company, KudosWall, conducted a survey recently and found that 71 percent of admissions professionals say applicants who establish a personal brand have a major advantage over those who don’t.

The catch is, merely following the typical personal branding advice will result in a boring brand. You can’t afford to be boring.

Stop taking notes from other people’s brands. Instead, let your creative self-shine through in an authentic, engaging manner. Be confident about what makes you uniquely you.

Sharing your true personality is authenticity in action. If you’re an introvert who thrives doing solo projects, record a vlog documenting your process and highlight how your introversion helps you succeed.

Also, demonstrate your ability to exhibit more than your innate personality traits, proving that you embrace stepping outside your comfort zone.

Don’t cater to a big audience. Share your specific interests and skills to the select few you want to impress. If you’re applying to an engineering program, share your branding content in those social circles, not to everyone on Facebook.

The job seeker mentality is targeted — that’s why it’s so powerful. Be strategic in who you promote your brand to. Otherwise, your general brand won’t resonate with anyone.

Build a professional community instead of a network.

The job seeker mentality is effective because it consists of a clear vision. That vision includes creating a village of colleagues who actually reflect who you are. You can identify the best networking opportunities by understanding how they impact your professional goals and align with your values.

‘Start networking’ is common job search advice for good reason. Our survey found that 61 percent of admissions professionals say applicants with large networks prove they’re a strong culture fit.

However, a distinction exists. Networking is not just meeting everybody you can. You’re looking for a community that’s true to your personality and aligns with your professional goals.

Develop a networking strategy involving personal and professional interests. That way, you’re still engaged with a hobby network as well as a professional network

Also, consider how to leverage your personality traits. If you’re an extrovert, you likely love meeting new people, but struggle in developing deeper connections. After you meet with someone new, set reminders to follow up with them and continue to build a more personal relationship.

Opportunities are in your inbox, not in job boards.

Job boards serve a purpose, but they’re not where most opportunities await you. Your best opportunities come from where you provide value. Start creating opportunities by highlighting your skills and personality in various areas of your online presence.

This requires a mindset shift that helps job seekers and career-oriented people thrive — focus on how you can provide value, not what you’ll receive.

Target just one person in your network and send them helpful information, like a mockup for a logo they want designed or feedback about their blog.

Also, use your online presence to spread positivity. Publicly congratulate a connection who lands a new job or shares a creative project. This is a great way to establish your genuine interest in their success.

Many people use social media as their personal highlight reel, but authenticity has a lot more power. Share your struggles publicly. When you’re vulnerable, you can ask for feedback and start to engage more with people in your network.

A strong online presence keeps you on top of mind and proves your value for any opportunity that could come your way. When you’re proactive, your professional and personal connections will know you as a persistent, confident, positive person who always follows through.