If you have ever looked for a job, you have likely experienced two outcomes. The first is that you apply, go through the interview process, except an offer, and begin work at a new company in a position that is a good fit for you. The second, less desirable, outcome is that at some point during the application process, you learn that you are no longer being considered for the position. When you get the job, you were likely one of the most competitive candidates. When you don’t, your application may not have been as competitive.

As an applicant, we attempt to predict what our competition looks like and how we stack up. We very rarely get to see the other side of the fence, nor the next applicant for that matter. As an applicant, your view is limited to your own resume. Which raises some questions:

How many people are applying to this position?

What education do other applicants have?

How do I compare to other applicants by experience level?

What are the top skills and areas of expertise among applicants?

What are the top fields of study for applicants?

One of the great things about working in recruiting is that you get to see the full competitive landscape—both sides of the fence.

Here’s a hypothetical example: A job has 39 applicants in three days and will be open for two more weeks. Fifty-one percent of the applicants have Bachelor Degrees, 20% Masters Degrees, with 8% hold MBAs, and 21% listed as other. Six of the applicants have entry-level experience, 10 are senior level, with seven have experience at the manager level. Another three have served in Director level positions with one Executive-level prospect. I can see that the top fields of study are Business Administration and Management; Human Resources Management/ Personnel Administration and Psychology. I then review which college they graduated from, what companies they worked for and other factors such as military status.

Learn what can give you a competitive edge in your job search.

Learn what can give you a competitive edge in your job search.

When job searching, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever see exactly how the competition stacks up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to be more competitive. You should educate yourself on the company and really understand the position to which you’re applying. Many of today’s career sites, such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor, offer insights that can reveal more about the applicants who get hired for certain positions, and the qualifications they have that set them above other applicants. These are important tools that I encourage you to review, always be learning and improving your job seeking skills.

To learn more about careers at VA, visit VAcareers.va.gov.

Share this story

Published on Jan. 9, 2015

Estimated reading time is 2.3 min.

Views to date: 56

More Stories

  • With unique opportunities and unmatched benefits, a job as a pharmacy technician at VA offers you a career that counts.

  • As an experienced professional, do you know what you want from your next career? When you begin your job search, consider these important points.

  • Join our recruiters for three events this October and learn what a career at VA has to offer.