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Author and blogger Seth Godin said it first.
While models are living paycheck to paycheck just for a chance at that J. Crew catalog shoot, supermodels are on an entirely different playing field. It’s not that they’re prettier or they walk better; it’s that they’ve made themselves known, made themselves premium. You don’t go from model to supermodel without a concerted effort, a “leap.”
That same thinking needs to go into your job hunt. Pounding the pavement with an intention to be average won’t get you anywhere, because when jobs are scarce, it’s the “super” candidates who are most likely to get an interview, a follow-up and ultimately an offer.
But remember: It’s not necessarily about doing a better job (although that’s what you should always strive for). Going from applicant to super applicant is all about making sure people know who you are—and this is how you do it:
You Will Fall—Own It
Whether you’re interviewing for your first job or your fifteenth job, there has probably been a time you’ve mis-stepped and fallen off your game during an interview. It happens to everyone, so rub some dirt on it and walk it off.
Make sure you have a story prepared about one of those times. One of the most-asked interview questions is, “What did you learn from your past job(s)?” That’s a perfect way to talk about the challenges you faced, all while keeping it positive by discussing your growth and what you learned.
Venture Outside Your Comfort Zone
What do Naomi Campbell, Heidi Klum and Tyson Beckford have that Helena Christensen and Nadja Auermann don’t? Depth. They’ve all parlayed their experiences to tackle something outside the fashion industry. Naomi Campbell co-wrote a novel, Heidi Klum stars in the wildly successful TV show Project Runway and Tyson Beckford has starred in many movies and television shows.
Few employers today are looking for uber-specialists, with the exception of the healthcare or tech fields. They’re looking for hybrids—people who are able to offer a myriad of skill sets, especially if you’re applying to small- or medium-sized businesses.
(Pro tip: Analyzing data is a highly sought-after skill in many roles. Creativity is key, but learn how to read numbers and draw conclusions from that data.)
Get Yourself Some Fans
Money aside, supermodels have one thing models don’t: fans. You need some, too, if you plan to be a super candidate.
You should have already started working on your personal brand, and now it’s time to make sure people know what that brand is about. Follow people on Twitter in your industry, especially people at the company you’re applying to. Tweet at them. Show up at networking events in your area. Don’t just add to existing conversations; start some by actually talking to people.
Become a Spokesperson
Supermodels have become the spokespersons for the fashion and modeling industry, and you need to do the same. This will require you to have some experience under your belt. Especially if you’re seeking a creative, Web or marketing role, it’s almost a requirement for you to be both passionate and vocal about your job.
Donate your time or your services to an event in return for personal promotion. Offer to become a guest contributor to blogs in your industry. If there’s an organization or committee of like-minded people in your area, join them.
Cara Barone is the Social Media Marketing Manager at Kforce, a provider of staffing and solutions. Cara also manages Knowledge Employed, a career advice blog for job hunters, seasoned employees and hiring managers.