Do you stand out in a job market?

Do you stand out in a job market?

In the hunt for a job—tight market or no—the first, second and third rules of searching are: Stand out from the competition.

Problem is, with more people looking for work, that’s become much harder to do.

Consumer products giant Newell Rubbermaid, for example, has 400 open positions worldwide, including 99 at its metro Atlanta headquarters in the US. The company has been inundated with applications this year, with volumes for some posts up 35-40% from past years, says Mike Rickheim, the company’s vice-president of global talent acquisition.

To stand out for a chance to interview for those jobs, which include marketing, engineering and supply chain management slots, some applicants are literally looking down to their feet to get a leg up, he says.

“In the past two months, I’ve gotten four shoes sent to me. The messages with them have been ‘I want to get my foot in the door,’" Rickheim says.

Banking giant Wells Fargo/Wachovia says applications for its unfilled jobs have increased 50% from last year. Would-be hires are bypassing an apparent backlog with law enforcement officials for fingerprinting checks—a bank requirement—by going to private firms that send digital fingerprint files directly to Wells Fargo for its background checks.

Even those who don’t make the final cut are putting a little more effort into thank-you notes, says Jay Lawrence, a Wells Fargo spokesman in Atlanta.

“We had a candidate the other day come in person to present a thank-you letter to the recruiter even though he was declined for the position," Lawrence says.

At the other end of the spectrum, some applicants still don’t seem to get it: One man, who said he had call centre experience, called Rollins Inc. to say he’d work for the company if it moved its Covington, Georgia, call centre to its Atlanta headquarters, which was more convenient for him.

“That one made us laugh," says Ruby Swann, director of recruitment and talent management for the pest control giant, which has 254 open jobs nationwide. “We’re certainly seeing a lot of boldness and persistence in applicants."

Most of the jobs are seasonally related and open up in the spring and summer, though some are newly created posts, she says.

The crush of job applicants has forced some employers to re-examine how they interact with applicants, particularly since many of them are using popular job board sites such as and

UPS directs all applicants to apply at its own site,

“You can only complete an application to a specific posted position," says Susan Rosenberg, a UPS spokeswoman. The company reports its job candidate interviews jumped 20% between January and July, compared with last year, though it’s still down from the same period in 2008.

Newell is focused more on its social media efforts on LinkedIn, a professional- and business-oriented website where it posts job openings. Using Twitter and Facebook is part of the company’s Web-recruiting strategy, Rickheim says. Those sites target people with the skills Newell seeks.

Rickheim says the push dovetails with Newell’s effort to better understand customer behaviour and social media, since a job candidate familiar with that area could help the cause.

“We’re really, really focused on understanding the consumer and we’re looking for the people that will help us to build on that capability," Rickheim says. “We have to be a lot more selective. In this environment, casting a wide net is not always the wisest thing."

Many companies have raised the same issue, says Matthew Henson, a spokesman for, one of the largest job board websites.

In January, the company launched its 6Sense programme, which allows employers and job seekers to filter each other using criteria such as years of experience, specific skills, education or job title.

“It’s something we recognized a while back," Henson says. “The classic job model is outdated; we’re not the old-school job board. This provides precision to scale."


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