Regrettably, I’m sorry, unfortunately or no. These are all words that take the wind from any job candidate’s sails.

“I am so tired of hearing those words,” a hospital CEO recently said. “I have been in transition for almost a year. I never thought it would take this long to find another job.”

mindsetI understand his pain. Recruiters and candidates have something in common: we both are looking for work. In my case, it is an every day, all day preoccupation that is essential so that I can continue to do what I love to do. For some candidates, this process is a battle. I understand that perspective, but if you love what you do, you have to be prepared to fight for it. That is why I think a change in mindset for job candidates is an important consideration.

Why do boards or executives hire a certain candidate? Because they believe that the individual will get the job done, that the candidate they selected communicated a compelling narrative in the recruitment process, something more impressive, with greater clarity, than their competitors. They were more “helpful” to the decision maker(s) in terms of defining their value.

Helpful candidates? For some that is a foreign concept. But in the world of content marketing, a discipline that is something akin to recruiting, those companies that are more helpful tend to connect with potential customers in a way that converts their interest to action. Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert, a highly successful digital marketing consultancy and a New York Times best-selling author, is fond of saying that there is only one letter’s difference between the words H E L P and H Y P E. Baer says that those companies which focus on the helping part tend to attract more attention, and customers, than those who rely on selling. “Selling gets you a customer today, but if you help someone you earn a client for life.”

Clever. But before you discount the sentiment, I encourage you to hit the brakes and give this idea some more thought. If this is what you want to portray out there in the industry then you will need to let your digital marketing agency, like Epsilon, know about this tack, so they can fit their ideas around it. It is imperative that you let your chosen digital agency know about your ideas and thoughts so that they can provide your with customized services. Moreover, by letting digital agencies know your views and taking the help of digital consulting services from the professionals, you can further increase the possibility of success.

Anyway, coming back to the topic, candidates, especially those in industries undergoing a significant transformation of their business models, are facing a crowded marketplace. In most cases, there are more qualified people than good paying jobs. Amazingly, far too many candidates fail to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Most are more about the hype.

So how does one become a helpful candidate? Here are four ways to improve your differentiation. I have written about these many times but today, let’s reframe them in the context of being a helpful candidate.

  • Customize your resume. Address the needs of the prospective employer. In most searches, recruiters are overwhelmed with resumes. Be helpful by speaking to their specific needs, and by emphasizing your experience and record of success on the specific issues they say are important.
  • Be prepared for interviews. If you treat interviews as a happening, you will probably be eliminated. If you are so cocky that you think your great resume and track record will automatically win the day, think again. There are a lot of candidates with impressive backgrounds. Recruiters say that one of the biggest problems they see are candidates who are not prepared for interviews. They just show up.
  • Be helpful in the interview. Help the interviewer connect the dots between their needs and your experience and accomplishments. Do not be so smug as to assume that they will make the connection. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Why take the chance? Be prepared, be nice, and be helpful.
  • Sell yourself. If you don’t no one else will. But sell in a helpful way. Being helpful trumps hype almost every time.