How to Stand Out and Land the Career You Want, According to HR Leaders

The Ontario government has announced it is moving into phase 3 of its COVID-19 re-opening plan, and 10 regions have been cleared to lift restrictions caused by the pandemic. Businesses have adapted to this new situation and are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially after COVID-19 forced many of us to stay in our homes.

During the lockdown, the unemployment in Canada reached a peak of 20% – creating a significantly more competitive candidate pool for open positions. Sectors like the finance industry have frozen hiring and are looking to internally mobilize incumbent employees to other parts of the business to save jobs.

Other industries have been on furlough, and their employees will return to their normal jobs once their businesses get back to normal. However, this still leaves a significant number of people looking for employment, creating an unprecedented level of competition in the open job market. 

Because of these changes, companies are adopting remote hiring processes and new technologies to prepare for the influx of candidates. So, what can you do to strategically stand out and land the career you want now? Over the past month I have been meeting with talent acquisition leaders in industries that are thriving, and they have given me tips for applicants who are hoping to do just that.

Learn how you can create a plan and put your best foot forward!

Build Your Network via LinkedIn

A campus recruiting director at one of the largest supply chains told me the best place to start is LinkedIn. The social networking platform has been optimized for professionals and is a great platform to promote yourself to organizations. You can research companies, connect with recruiters, get job alerts and apply for jobs on the website’s dashboard. Here are the recommended steps you should take:

Create a Shortlist

The first step is to research and narrow your list to about 5 companies that you would like to work for. You should target your energy to finding the right fit at any of those 5 companies. Consider all opportunities because you may have to take a less than ideal role at a company to get your foot in the door. 

Create Professional Profile

The second step is to make your profile standout and align with the shortlist of companies you aspire to work for. That means including a professional photo, experience, education, skills, and KPI’s in your profile so your profile stands out when recruiters inevitably look you up. In today’s job economy, your LinkedIn profile will oftentimes influence a recruiter’s first impression of you and will make all the difference between being called in for an interview or not.

Connect With Recruiters

Now that you have identified the companies you would like to work for and have made your profile, it is time to apply, set up job alerts, and connect with recruiters. Oftentimes recruiters post jobs right to their profile and are open to connecting with prospective candidates. 

Take your shortlist of companies, identify the recruiters, and do a little research to see if they are open to connecting. Follow them on LinkedIn to receive any updates on what jobs they are specifically looking for as well. Do not overlook this opportunity as it is a direct line to get your foot in the door.

Be Ready for a Remote Hiring Process

In the past, recruiters would scan resumes, phone screen, and then bring the best fitting candidates in for interviews. All of that has changed, and companies have invested heavily in technology that can connect them remotely to applicants. Applicant tracking systems, chatbots, artificial intelligence for screening, and synchronous / asynchronous virtual interview platforms are starting to replace traditional means of recruiting.

I recently connected with a global talent recruiter at a world’s leading contact center. She told me that as they innovate to connect and create first class candidate experiences, applicants might be overlooked if they do not prepare their workspace prior to interviews. 

At her company they ask you to benchmark your internet speed and send it in as part of your application. They want to make sure that you can be agile and work from home without any interruptions. Being able to complete virtual interviews and assessments without interruption is a necessary competitive advantage. While she does not expect remote work to last forever, she sees that companies will have a larger combination of in office employees and work from home service reps.

Her next piece of advice is to create a dedicated work environment free of distractions. Her company asks candidates to take virtual interviews in the space they will work. This gives them insight to your ability to work from home and see if it is optimized for productivity. Applicant’s home work spaces are just as important as their resumes or LinkedIn profiles. 

These are all key differentiators amongst applicants that she uses to test savvy and motivation.


The landscape has changed, and companies have made the first move to adapt and establish the new “normal.” New technologies, including AI skills assessment tools, will dominate the talent acquisition process, therefore candidates must adapt as well and become more proactive in their search for landing a career.

Becoming more active on professional social network platforms, and taking pre-emptive measures to differentiate themselves in massive applicant pools is now an applicant’s new normal. It may seem intimidating at first, but it is a unique opportunity to take control of your career path and create the absolute best first impression.

Happy hunting!

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