Competing for Jobs with the Best of the Best

Written by scholar

Here are some advanced strategies for competing with top talent:

1. Develop a strong personal brand: Establish a professional online presence, including a LinkedIn profile and personal website or blog.

2. Build a network of influencers: Connect with industry leaders and executives, and seek mentorship and guidance.

3. Gain relevant experience: Secure internships, volunteer, or take on part-time work in your desired field to build a strong resume.

4. Develop in-demand skills: Stay up-to-date with industry trends and acquire skills that are highly valued by top companies.

5. Create a portfolio: Showcase your work, projects, and achievements to demonstrate your capabilities.

6. Craft a tailored application package: Customize your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile to each job application.

7. Prepare for intense interviews: Research the company, practice answering behavioral questions, and prepare thoughtful questions to ask.

8. Demonstrate leadership and initiative: Show that you’re a proactive problem-solver who can drive results and lead others.

9. Stay adaptable and resilient: Be open to learning, and don’t get discouraged by setbacks or rejections.

10. Focus on adding value: Show how you can contribute to the company’s success and help drive growth and innovation.

Remember, competing with top talent requires dedication, hard work, and a willingness to continuously improve and adapt.

Provide a stellar work sample.


– A published article or blog post
– A chapter from a thesis or dissertation
– A writing portfolio with diverse samples (e.g., news articles, marketing copy, technical writing)


– A logo or branding design project
– A website or mobile app design prototype
– A graphic design portfolio with varied samples (e.g., brochures, posters, infographics)


– A GitHub repository with notable projects
– A mobile app or software program you developed
– A code sample demonstrating expertise in a specific programming language

Art/Visual Arts:

– A portfolio with high-quality images of your artwork
– A sculpture, painting, or drawing that showcases your skills
– A video or animation demonstrating your creative abilities


– A case study or patient care plan
– A research paper or presentation on a healthcare topic
– A portfolio highlighting your clinical skills and experience


– A marketing campaign or business plan you developed
– A financial analysis or data visualization project
– A case study demonstrating your business acumen and strategic thinking


– A design project or prototype
– A technical paper or research report
– A code sample or programming project demonstrating your engineering expertise


– A lesson plan or curriculum development project
– A student assessment or evaluation tool you created
– A teaching portfolio highlighting your instructional design and delivery skills

Remember to choose a sample that is:

– Relevant to the job you’re applying for
– Demonstrates your skills and expertise
– Of high quality and showcases your best work
– Accompanied by a clear explanation and context

This will help you showcase your abilities and stand out to potential employers!

Ask smart questions.

Asking smart questions during an interview not only shows your interest in the company and position but also demonstrates your level of preparation and engagement. Here are some tips and examples of smart questions to ask:

1. Company-specific questions:
– What are the company’s short-term and long-term goals, and how does this role contribute to achieving them?
– Can you tell me more about the company culture and values?
– How has the company adapted to changes in the industry/market?

2. Position-specific questions:
– What are the biggest challenges facing the team/department right now, and how do you see this role helping to address them?
– Can you describe the day-to-day responsibilities of the job and how it contributes to the team’s objectives?
– How does this role fit into the overall organizational structure, and who would I be working closely with?

3. Response-based questions:
– As you mentioned earlier, [insert topic], can you elaborate on that further?
– How does [company initiative/project] impact this role and the team?
– What strategies have been implemented to address [challenge mentioned earlier]?

Examples of smart interview questions:

– “You mentioned the company is expanding into new markets. How does this role play a part in that strategy?”
– “Can you share more about the team I would be working with, and how this role contributes to their goals?”
– “You discussed the importance of innovation. How does the company encourage and support new ideas and experimentation?”

Remember to tailor your questions to the conversation and show genuine interest in the company and position. This demonstrates your enthusiasm and engagement, leaving a positive impression on the interviewer.

Show the interviewer you’re a problem solver

That’s a great strategy! By asking permission to address the problem, you’re showing respect for the interviewer’s time and expertise. Then, by exploring the problem in more depth, you’re demonstrating your critical thinking skills and ability to analyze complex issues. Finally, by offering your insights, analysis, and ideas, you’re showcasing your problem-solving skills and ability to think creatively.

Here’s an example of how this might play out:

Interviewer: “We’re struggling to increase sales in the current market.”

You: “Would it be okay with you if I took just a moment to show you how I might address that problem?”

Interviewer: “Sure, go ahead.”

You: “Can you tell me more about what’s been tried so far to increase sales?”

Interviewer: “We’ve tried social media campaigns, discounts, and targeted advertising.”

You: “Okay, let me see if I can add some ideas to what you’ve already done.” (Write on whiteboard/paper)

– Social media campaigns
– Discounts
– Targeted advertising
– Collaborate with influencers
– Develop strategic partnerships
– Optimize website for SEO

You: “I would suggest exploring influencer partnerships and strategic partnerships to expand our reach and build credibility. Additionally, optimizing our website for SEO could improve our online visibility.”

By doing this, you’re demonstrating your ability to think critically, analyze complex problems, and offer creative solutions. This can go a long way in showing the interviewer that you’re the right person for the job!

Give smart answers.

You’re absolutely right! Interviewers ask questions to assess a candidate’s fit for the role, industry knowledge, problem-solving skills, and creativity. Some questions may seem straightforward, while others may be more abstract or challenging. Here’s a breakdown of the types of questions you might encounter:

1. Company/industry knowledge questions: These assess your understanding of the company, its challenges, and the industry. Be prepared to discuss current events, trends, and the company’s mission, values, and goals.

2. Behavioral questions: These explore your past experiences, skills, and behaviors. Be ready to share specific examples from your work history or education.

3. Problem-solving questions: These test your ability to think critically and creatively. You may be presented with hypothetical scenarios, case studies, or brain teasers.

4. Quantitative questions: These evaluate your numerical reasoning and analytical skills. Be prepared to work with numbers, data, or statistics.

5. Creative/abstract questions: These assess your ability to think outside the box and generate innovative ideas. Examples include “How many electric cars are there in the world?” or “Design a new product for our company.”

Remember, even if a question seems impossible to answer, it’s an opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills, creativity, and critical thinking. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions, take a moment to think, and provide a thoughtful response. Good luck with your interviews!

Get good recommendations.

That’s great advice! Professional references can indeed make a significant difference in a job search. Here are some tips to help you prime your references:

1. Ask permission: Before listing someone as a reference, ask their permission and make sure they’re comfortable with being contacted.

2. Keep them informed: Let your references know what positions you’re applying for and when they might be contacted.

3. Provide context: Share information about the job description, company, and your relevant skills and experiences.

4. Prepare them: Brief your references on the key points they should highlight when speaking about your qualifications and strengths.

5. Show appreciation: Express gratitude for their support and willingness to serve as a reference.

6. Consider a reference sheet: Create a document with your references’ contact information, job titles, and a brief description of your working relationship and relevant skills they can speak to.

7. Follow up: If a reference is contacted, be sure to thank them again and let them know the outcome of the application process.

Remember, strong professional references can give you a competitive edge in the job market. By priming your references, you can ensure they’re prepared to speak positively and effectively about your qualifications and potential.

Say thank you the right way.

That’s a great approach! Instead of a generic thank-you note, you’re providing value by offering a thoughtful and detailed response to a topic discussed during the interview. This shows that you’re invested in the company’s success and willing to go the extra mile. By framing your suggestion as an example of your analytical approach, you avoid coming across as presumptuous or arrogant.

Here’s an example of how you could structure your follow-up note:

Dear [Interviewer],

I wanted to express my gratitude for taking the time to speak with me about the [Position] role at ABC Company. I truly appreciated our conversation and the opportunity to learn more about the company’s challenges and goals.

Regarding our discussion about [specific topic], I couldn’t help but think of a potential strategy that might address the issue. Please find attached a brief document outlining my thoughts in more detail. Please keep in mind that this is just one possible approach, and I acknowledge that there may be additional factors and information that I’m not privy to.

I hope you find this additional information helpful. Once again, thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,
[Your Name]

By providing a thoughtful and detailed response, you’re demonstrating your expertise and enthusiasm for the role, while also showing respect for the interviewer’s time and expertise. This can help you stand out from other applicants and leave a positive impression on the interviewer.

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