How to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

The economy has been struggling in recent years as many say that this is the worst job market since the Great Depression. While it’s not my intention to get political here or debate numbers, I will say that I’ve noticed that even when the unemployment numbers fall here in the U.S., they often get revised up the following month and they don’t include the people that have either taken a lower paying job (underemployed) or have simply given up. The only reason I even mention this is that if you’re looking for work, the competition is fierce. So it’s especially important for you to find ways to stand out in a positive way.

I was unemployed for nine months back in 2003. That doesn’t seem like a long time these days as I know people that have been looking for work for two years. But honestly, when you’re unemployed, even a few weeks can seem like an eternity and most of us want to do what we can to get back to work. With so much “company” in the job search process, it’s critical to grab any edge that you can. Here are three things you can do to stand out from the crowd in a positive way:

Learn Useful Skills for Free from your Club

I’ve written numerous times about how joining a Toastmasters club can help your career based on what you learn from going through the program. However, not everyone is interested in joining a speaking club and not everyone’s goals involve communication skills. The good news is that there are hundreds of clubs out there for every interest. You can find clubs for hobbies on topics such as sewing, reading (book clubs), chess, cribbage, car enthusiast and even video games. There are clubs that focus on business or political issues as well as public service. And there are clubs that are community focused that can focus on anything from improving a neighborhood to planning statewide events. My point is that there’s a club for practically every interest and most of these clubs (unless it’s something bizarre such as a fetish club) can give you an opportunity to move ahead with your job or business.

The great thing about clubs is that your involvement is the perfect win-win situation. The club wins because volunteers help run the club and provide the benefits to the members. The volunteer wins because he or she gets experience that otherwise might not be available to him or her with their current job. This experience falls into several categories and depending on the club and the position, not all of them may be present.

What I Learned from NaNoWriMo

I participated in NaNoWriMo this past November. If you’re unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and is an event held each November for writers and those aspiring to be writers. If you have ever wanted to write a book and you just haven’t been able to get started, I highly recommend you give it a try. I first learned of NaNoWriMo while checking Twitter on Thanksgiving of 2011. At that point, it was a little late for me to participate so I made it goal to participate in 2012. I’m really glad I did because it was a great experience.

Make 2013 Your Best Year Ever

Happy 2013! There’s something about the New Year that causes us to use it as a milestone for starting over. Perhaps it’s the act of replacing our desk or wall calendars or maybe it’s the fact that it’s a new tax and financial period. Whatever the reason, most of us use this opportunity to drop old bad habits and pick up new good ones.
If you’re not sure what to do for your resolution, here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Quit drinking/smoking/over-eating.