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How to Stand Out From the 34,999 Other New Job Seekers in Alberta

09/10/2015 04:48 EDT | Updated 09/10/2016 05:12 EDT
Blend Images - Ariel Skelley via Getty Images
Businesswoman handing paper to co-worker

The statistics are staggering. Recent layoffs and job firings in Alberta's oil and gas sector have literally hit home for tens of thousands of Alberta's uniquely skilled workers. And as ATB Financial's Chief Economist Todd Hirsch points out in this post, "The situation is likely to get worse before it gets better."

The pavement is about to be pounded by the estimated 35,000 people who have recently lost their jobs in our province. If you're one of them, you need to take action now to set yourself apart.

Here are five simple steps you can take today to enhance your professionalism and improve your chances of being selected for one of the few existing positions in Alberta's wildly unpredictable job market.

1. Order new business cards: Nothing says "don't hire me" like scrawling your contact information on a scrap of paper when you meet a potential new employer. Don't be caught empty-handed! Instead, visit a local print shop or log on to an online printer like MOO or Vistaprint and order a batch of business cards. Even your local Staples store offers this service. Invest in the best quality cards you can afford, and keep your new design simple. Include your name, your designation or qualifications, a phone number, and an appropriate e-mail address (this is not the time to use your "cutiepie" or "kittenlover" e-mail handle). Carry your business cards with you everywhere; you never know when a networking opportunity will present itself.

2. Update your voice mail greeting: The telephone number you have listed on your resume and business card has now become your formal office number. Record a new voice mail greeting that reflects your expertise. Then, ask someone whose opinion you value to listen to your new recording and provide feedback. Other people always hear us differently than we hear ourselves, so if you're advised to slow down, cheer up, or speak more clearly, make the suggested changes.

3. Answer the phone as though your dream employer is on the other end: From this point forward, saying "Hey" or "Yo" doesn't cut it when you answer the phone. Replace those monosyllabic salutations with something like, "Good afternoon, Pat speaking." Be mindful of your surroundings when receiving or making calls. If you're not in the perfect position to have a professional conversation, wait until you are. And don't put your phone on speaker mode during a discussion with a headhunter or potential employer. It's too distracting.

4. Take a good look at your cyber portfolio: Like it or not, people are going to check out your Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed, and Instagram account. They'll also Google you to see what you've been up to, and if you have a website, they'll have a look at that, too. Manage your online persona to make sure it is consistent with your candidacy for a new job. That may mean boosting your security settings, deleting a variety of photos, tweets, and posts, or auditing your contact lists.

5. Refresh your image: If you're overdue for a haircut, a new outfit, or even an updated headshot, now is the time to deal with it. The job competition is fierce, and, sad but true, you may be judged on your appearance. This is another great opportunity to seek advice. Ask your hairstylist or barber for suggestions and take an experienced clothing shopper along if you're not sure what pieces to add to your wardrobe. Top it off with a new portrait for your online platform.

Preparation is the key to your success. It will cost more time than money for you to implement these suggestions. In the long run, it's worth every second.

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