See the previous post, 5 Tips to Navigate Today’s Job Market.

Interested in a position with a government contractor? These three tips will help you stand out from the competition and get noticed.

1. Apply Effectively

A key strategy is to go the “Referral Route.” When you identify a job online you’d like to pursue, see if anyone in your network has a direct line of communication with the manager. You can do this by asking the recruiter you’re working with if they have a contract with that company, or a relationship with manager/s of that group. If you have a common connection, you can pass along your resume with the job ID/requisition number to that individual, so they can forward along to the right person internally.

Another strategy is to apply the 80:20 rule to your job search. When evaluating a job, apply if you meet at least 80% of the hard requirements (not including preferred qualifications), as long as you’re interested in learning and doing the remaining 20%! Too often candidates don’t apply if they don’t have everything on the client’s “requirements wish list.” Don’t let this be you! Start to engage in skills development for the skills you’re lacking prior to an interview.

2. Prepare for each interview.

In addition to overall interview preparation, such as re-reading your resume and perfecting your professional elevator pitch, you should be investing time preparing for each individual company and role. Review the company’s website and social media platforms. Re-read the job description the night before, and write down why you’re qualified and why you’re interested in the role. Identify why you might not get selected, such as missing a version of one of the technologies listed in the job description, and invest 30+ minutes reading/studying up on it.

3. Send a thank you after each interview.

The majority of candidates do not send a follow up note within 24 hours after an interview to show appreciation for the interviewers’ time, express interest, etc. When you think about the fact that most managers interview at least 5-10 candidates for each opening, hopefully you realize the importance of taking this extra step!

Your thank you letter is a great indicator of your interest, and also provides an opportunity for you to further differentiate yourself from other candidates by providing references/recommendations, non-proprietary examples of your work, technical assessment scores, etc. Do you have strong recommendations from previous managers or coworkers? One quick and easy branding strategy you can utilize is to copy and paste those recommendations into your follow up, or reference where they’re located online. For example, you could communicate at the end of your thank you note that “I have four recommendations from past managers and clients endorsing me for the type of projects this role will be focused on. You can find them at the bottom of my career profile”

The key themes throughout a job search roadmap are to engage in continuous reflection, planning and preparation, think strategically, take chances, and always be branding and positioning yourself as a top candidate!

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Apex is the 2nd largest IT staffing and services company in the U.S. With a presence in over 65 markets and 15 technical skill practice groups, they had over 30,000 technical professionals on assignment in 2016 with more than 1000 clients.