Camouflage in Competition

Many job and internship applicants are feeling a lot of anxiety and pressure as they wait for decisions about their potential job placement. After all, they’ve spent countless hours scrutinizing their resumes, planning their outfits, practicing interview questions, researching the company and position… not to mention the existential questions that go along with this process! ‘What do I want to do in my professional life? How does this balance with my other ambitions? Is this position right for me? Am I right for this position? Am I good at anything other than being indecisive/worrisome?!’

We’re all pretty good at worrying and being indecisive sometimes(okay, a lot of times). However, these feelings may be exacerbated when we compound the issue with variables beyond our control. These variables are … our competition. I’ve noticed a trend in how we handle our application process – we do a lot of it alone! I visit the job fair to meet with employers, I submit my resume and follow-ups, I interview, I make decisions and hopefully I go to work! Very few instances occur where I am in close, direct contact with the competition. Certainly, a good number of individuals are interested in the same positions I am, but thankfully, I am blithely unaware of their presence! However, the competition still exists even when the competitor is anonymous. In fact, this likely increases one’s sense of competition within one’s self.

To fully grasp this idea, you’re definitely gonna need to insert yourself in the situation. Think of it this way – in your cover letter and resume, you’re selling yourself. You continue this practice in the interview and any subsequent communication conducted between you and your potential employer. While you may not be standing right next to your competition, you feel some omnipotent pressure that tells you ‘You’re not as good as your competition is. You better step up your game because you have no idea how good your competition is.’ But, you do know how good you are.

Does the acknowledgement of competition help or hinder your application process? Do you acknowledge the competition? Before I noticed the autonomy exercised in the application process, I never considered the competition. When applying for a position, ideally, the applicant is doing so because he feels that he is the best candidate for the job. Therefore, everyone else simply isn’t. But, in contrast to the ideal situation, reality dictates this sentiment is not true. The competition might be better than you. And we will all dejectedly sigh and resign ‘I guess the better person should get the job.’ That is, if we are altruistic people and we actually believe in the company and its mission as opposed to the money we would have made.

Here’s a few tips for the process of applying, waiting, agonizing, waiting, and hopefully succeeding

1. Believe that you are the best! That’s why you applied for the job, right?! Tell your future employer about your unique traits and experiences that distinguishes you from the competition. They want to know what separates you from the pack; all the candidates will be qualified, but you offer more than that! You offer that-which-makes-you-you, and no one else can offer that!

2. Show, don’t tell! Your resume tells of what you’ve done; you can narrate your life story forwards and backwards… but that will not make a difference if you cannot act upon the traits and values you are claiming to have! For example, say you’ve gone on a mission trip. That should demonstrate a great deal of concern for others in addition to skills related to the work of the mission. So how will you employ that in your job?

3. Know the company and the job they are asking you to do. While you can ask your interviewer about the company and job tasks, they cannot determine if the job is right for you. That will be your responsibility! I can say from personal experience that I had a wonderful, highly-paid opportunity before me for which I was honored to be considered. But ultimately, the job would not be right for me. The job did not encompass my interests or goals in life, and as much as I wanna make the money, I won’t let the money make me.

4. Consider what composes who you are and thus distinguishes you from the others. In most personal descriptions, people write that they enjoy movies, books, music and sleeping. Congratulations, honey, that don’t make you special. Everyone likes those things. We didn’t ask about everybody, nor did we ask for a generic response. This one requires and deserves some thought. But the result is certainly worthwhile. Never pass up a chance for self-exploration!

Good luck in your pursuits and ambitions! And thanks for reading. :)

Ellen

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