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Strategies for Standing Out in Today’s Competitive Job Market

You've probably heard the phrase, “competitive job market.” With a growing workforce, standing out from the competition is becoming increasingly difficult. At The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), one of our goals is to give an edge to members and help them stand out to hiring managers in a tough job environment.

When you apply for that dream role and notice that the job posting has hundreds of applicants, it can be discouraging. But there are key ways you can stand out in front of employers and apart from the competition. 

So, how do you stand out in a saturated job market? Here are four ways you can immediately start setting yourself up for career success.


Personal branding doesn't have to be a stressful undertaking. Doing it well also doesn't mean you have to have a million followers or shift your values from who you truly are. In a digital world where many employers require a personal website in addition to a resume, your online persona matters, and the resume is just the beginning. 

A big misconception about personal branding is that people feel as though they need to embody the person an employer is looking for instead of being themselves. Employers can sniff out inauthenticity and are ultimately looking for unique perspectives and personalities to balance out their organization.

So, be yourself! Being your authentic self orbits all of the key ways you'll have to stand out to employers. Without that, the other key competencies will fall apart.


If you're just starting out or finishing college and feel like you have nothing to show on your resume or don't have a foundation for your personal brand, here are some ways you can take initiative and start building your leadership skills and resume right away: 

  • Volunteer. Coach youth sports or work with local charities. Think outside the box. 
  • Intern. Reach out to a family friend or local business and tell them you want to start building skills that will help them.
  • Reflect. Think back on school projects and highlight the skills implemented. You'd be surprised how transferable those skills will be in the workforce. 

Whatever you do, don't wait for opportunities to appear at your front door. As Terry Crews told NSLS members in a recent Speaker Broadcast, you need to seek and seize on opportunities, not wait around for them to appear in front of you. 

Here are some other resume-writing tips before you overhaul your current draft: 

  • Tailor each resume to the job you are applying for. The goal is to draw the shortest line possible between your experience and what's stated in the job description.
  • Include quantifiable measurements wherever possible. Don't just mention projects; explain how the project generated X amount of ROI. 
  • Show potential employers how your skills can directly help their organization in specific ways. 


Interviewing is scary. In fact, an astounding majority admit to being nervous for an upcoming interview. Step one of standing out to hiring managers when interviewing is to embrace your nerves, your fear, and the failure that may be the end result. It's part of the process. 

Next, put yourself in the best position possible to succeed for the interview. Ultimately, this comes down to preparation. Though you might want to combat nervousness and fear by not thinking about it and jumping right in with confidence, the interviewer will detect how little you know about their organization, or the way you stumble towards a skill you want to highlight through an unrehearsed story.

Here are some ways you can prepare for an interview: 

  • Read the job description very carefully and take notes. 
  • Avoid giving canned, internet-sourced answers to typical interview questions.
  • Convey the value that you bring and answer with specifics to your own experience.
  • Know the organization inside and out, and have follow-up questions prepared.

When asking follow-up questions, keep your best skills in mind. Lean into the projects you’re proud of. Have your key talking points top of mind and don't be afraid to mention an accomplishment more than once. 

Right before the interview, go for a walk, listen to calming music, and completely clear your mind. You've done the prep work. Now, it's time to trust it. 

When the interview is underway, take deep breaths and pause when necessary—it's normal to take a moment to catch your breath and think. Also be sure to: 

  • Listen carefully during the interview and ask questions as they come to mind.
  • Be your authentic self and let your personality shine through. 
  • Smile with your face and your voice. Nonverbal communication speaks volumes.

Remember that it should be as much an interview for them as it is for you.


There’s no point in your career where you can't continue to grow and learn. Whether you're just starting out or are a CEO, career development will always be necessary to develop your skills, adjust to industry changes, and keep honing your hard skills and soft skills

Stand out to hiring managers by showing this initiative and thirst for knowledge on your resume, in your personal brand, and during the interview. Besides actively seeking career development opportunities, having a growth mindset also means to always have goals.

By having your goals mapped out, you'll create a better path to achieving them while also generating a greater understanding of yourself. This will give you more confidence in interviews and on the job. 

Goal-setting doesn't need to be a rigorous exercise. There are techniques you can use to create a plan of attack for your future. When you're asked in an interview where you see yourself in five or ten years, don't fret—instead, have an answer highlighting your goals and how you plan on achieving them. 

These are a couple of ways you can begin your goal-setting journey: 

SMART goals are about creating tangible steps to get to where you want to be. They help you achieve this by: 

  • Zeroing in on specifics about your goal and the challenges you might face.
  • Laying out the resources, time, finances, and other aspects to achieve your goal.
  • Measuring whether you're actually taking the steps to achieving it.
  • Enforcing self-awareness about the realistic possibilities of your goal.
  • Putting a hard deadline on achieving the goal to guarantee continued progress.

For long-term goals, the PACT goal-setting technique is a great way to: 

  • Establish a purposeful foundation for your goals based on values and ambitions.
  • Sidestep overplanning and focus on achievable steps to get started right away.
  • Continue to pursue your goals with repeated routines without overanalyzing. 
  • Track your progress toward long-term goals and celebrate small wins as they come.

With goals in place and a growth mindset, you'll bring an enthusiasm for constant betterment that employers look for in an ideal candidate.


Pairing passion and work can be tricky. We've all heard the saying, “If you love what you do, you won't work a day in your life.” But this doesn't just mean doing something that you love.

What's more important than doing something you're passionate about is bringing passion into your work, no matter the task. First, you’ll want to think about what you're passionate about. Ask yourself: 

  • What is a skill or talent of mine that I'm naturally great at?
  • What organizations do I follow on social media? 
  • What products do I regularly use?
  • What companies do I respect? 

By defining your best strengths and pinpointing the industry you want to be in, you'll discover work that you can be passionate about.

why is this important to stand out to employers?

There are things you just can't teach—passion is one of them. A hiring manager in a particular industry is going to be able to tell whether you're truly passionate about their organization early on in the interview process.

Plus, after you're hired and deeply ingrained in the day-to-day of an organization's work, an employer will be able to detect true passion from those employees who are there simply to collect a paycheck. 

Once you land your dream job, embrace the slow moments with the exciting ones. Passion is more than just loving what you do; it's always being passionate, no matter the obstacles. You probably won't love every second of your job, but you should be continually passionate about the product, the end result, or the organization’s overall mission.

Empathy goes hand-in-hand with passion. Empathy can't really be taught, but it should be leaned into and on your mind as you go through the interview process because friendliness outweighs skill-based competence in the workplace. 

If you're not passionate or nice, employers will seek other candidates.

how the nsls helps members stand out frOm the competition

With a growing workforce and an increasingly competitive job market, the NSLS prioritizes helping members get their foot in the door, thrive on the job, and continue to develop the skills that will carry them throughout their careers. 

Member benefits range from scholarships and awards to accredited leadership development courses. Members also gain access to the following career resources, which provide the necessary push into the employment market:

  • An exclusive online job board
  • Personalized letters of recommendation
  • Personal success coaching and mentorship
  • Paid internship opportunities
  • Local volunteer opportunities

By completing the Steps to Induction, members also develop the skills employers are looking for. The Foundations of Leadership (FOL) program helps members go intentionally toward their future by:

  • Identifying goals and working on a plan of action to achieve them.
  • Learning how to communicate effectively with others.
  • Developing leadership skills and creating a path for overcoming obstacles.
  • Recognizing strengths and capitalizing on them to fast-track success.
  • Connecting in small groups to help one another set timelines and achieve goals.
  • Gaining career-success insights directly from global leaders.

Taking that step forward into today’s competitive job market can be overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to make it much easier. It all comes down to embracing your authentic self and being in control of your own story.