Helping you get ready for that next big interview!

Today I plan to talk about something constructive for the general betterment of the recruiting industry. Today's topic is about how to set yourself apart from other job seekers before your job search even begins. While none of these things are ground breaking, combined they should yield excellent results.

Why a new job? The most important question you need to answer throughout the interview process is... 'why'. Why do you want a new job? If you can't answer this you have some serious work to do. Ask yourself: Do you want to make more money? Why? Do you want to buy a house with that money? Or do you want to live in the city, or outside the city, or in another city? Are you craving a higher-level challenge? Are you bored to death at work? Are you overwhelmed? Does your current company lack stability? Are layoffs looming? There are a million reasons why you may want to make a move but the rule of thumb is to be transparent when speaking with a recruiter or a potentially new employer. Avoid generalizations or trying so hard 'not to speak badly' of your current employer that you come across evasive or untruthful. You can be brutally honest and professional at the same time. If the details surrounding your departure are murky, seek help from a professional career advisor. A clear reason 'why' will set the foundation for a successful job search.

What, what? Now that you've defined 'why' you need to define 'what'. Although you may feel like a renaissance man who can do it all, more than likely the company you interview with is going to hire you for one position with two, maybe three core functions. Keep it on point. You need to be able to answer exactly what you want to do for the company, why you would be good for the position and specifically how your resume and background correlate directly to the job description. If your answers are not concise or well thought out you are going to ramble and flounder. This can kill an interview in the first thirty seconds.

Where in the world is Carmen San Diego? Now it's time to define your geography. Will you relocate for work? To where? Will you pay for it or do you expect relocation assistance? There are a lot of questions you will need to answer to properly set your search parameters. Although important, this topic isn't too tough and most people know how far they are willing to go to for work. Again, be concise and demonstrate that you've put thought to the topic and aren't merely 'winging it'.

Resumes are boring, just add spice. This is an article in and of itself. Maybe even a series of articles. Adding a bit of flavor to a resume is something I always encourage and enlisting the aid of a professional writer and designer will make this task painless and exciting at the same time. While banking or retail may be your specialty, resume writing most likely is not. In addition to the written content I would enlist a graphic designer or digital marketing company to create graphical version of your resume that 'pops'. When your resume looks good, you will know it. People will rave and rant about it, about how good it looks and how creative of a design it is, and most importantly employers will be more apt to reach out to you to request an interview. They will assume if your resume is 'good' then you are 'good'. Don't be afraid to incorporate new or edgy things into the resume. This will show that you are confident, creative and willing to put in the extra effort to make anything you do shine. For good measure keep a ".DOC" version handy for the technologically impaired or for the recruiter who needs to OCR your resume into his database.

Do you even Social? I could literally write an entire book on social media and it's importance in your job search so without going into too much detail I'm going to keep it short and sweet. First off, clean it up. Delete anything that could be controversial, political or downright inappropriate. Make sure your photos do not show you doing anything illegal or illicit and in general try to lock down your profile. That's the defensive side of social media. On the opportunistic side of things you should you actively use your social media presence as a tool, showcasing the best side of yourself. Use the same professional headshot as the profile picture for all of your social media. This will help employers to quickly identify you and not mistake someone else's (with the same name) content for yours. You should try to post things relevant to your job search, i.e. an award you received, an industry article showing your enthusiasm for the position or wholesome photos of you with family and friends engaged in meaningful activities. Invest time into this activity as it will most likely be the first thing an employer searches.

All in all, there is never too much work you can do to prep for a job search. The website "" is a free tool you can utilize outside of LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where you can have a personal webpage to show the more human side of yourself while still remaining professional. When you think you've finished ask a few close friends to run an 'audit' of your social media to see what they can dig up on you, how they honestly view your posts and likes and what feedback they may have if they were the potential employer. If you're still not sure, seek out local recruiters in your market for their professional opinion. Always remember, whatever you do online, while you believe it may be private, there is usually a way to access that information so always use discretion and professionalism when posting. The hiring manager at your dream job may just be a friend of a friend, you never know.

Written by Ken Brown