How to Compete for Jobs in a Competitive Industry

So, you’ve set your sights. And you’ve set them rather high.

You’re looking to break into an industry that spurs on a high amount of competition between job seekers. This could include industries such as:

  • Programming
  • Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Law
  • Real Estate
  • InfoSec
  • Sales
  • Investing
  • Any kind of startup
  • and the list goes on…

Not only do most of these career paths require you to challenge yourself through skills building and education, other candidates are going to pose a challenge during the recruitment process.

These industries themselves are highly competitive. Companies within are constantly vying for the top spot. They produce some of the most revolutionary products and cutting-edge services, making them highly attractive places to work. But that also means they attract a lot of the top talent — and recruiters have to be even more selective with finding the right person for the job.

It’s important, then, that you learn how to properly highlight your unique value so that employers can see how you stand out from the competition.

Well, great news! Here are 3 ways you can create some elbow space between you and other job seekers. Let’s have a look!

1. Make People Skills a Priority

While competition may be fierce between organizations in your chosen industry, the culture inside those organizations is a whole different story.

It’s not an every-man-for-himself, dog-eat-dog world, when it comes to your coworkers. Because you are all working towards a common goal (and share a common “enemy” of other businesses), teams in competitive industries actually tend to exhibit higher rates of trust and companionship.

It’s like the opposite of crabs in a bucket. The crabs will never escape as a group because as soon as one of them climbs ahead, the rest pull them back. But in competitive industries, most company cultures reflect an awareness that if you don’t all cooperate, you’re just holding each other back.

This makes it incredibly important to be able to showcase your interpersonal soft skills.

Start by thinking about times where you’ve been able to truly support your teams in the past. Concrete examples will help reinforce your strengths to a recruiter.

You can also go the extra mile by identifying what gaps their team currently has, then explaining how you would fill the gap with your skills.

The most important people skills include:

  • Communication
  • Mediation
  • Organization
  • Creativity
  • Teaching
  • Active listening
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving

2. Give Them Proof of Your Problem-Solving

You might have a long and storied background; you might be able to talk about what you have achieved until the cows come home.

But if you can’t make a recruiter see that you’ll be able to do something for their business, then you’ll still miss the mark.

One of the most powerful ways you can show the value you’d bring to their team is by identifying and then solving a problem (or potential problem) that their business is facing.

In a TED Talk, Jason Shen described how he landed a job with Etsy despite having no experience. He was able to impress the hiring managers by first analyzing their company, then designing a demo of a new website, complete with a list of possible new features they could be adding.

Needless to say, the recruiters were taken aback by how serious and capable Shen appeared. And you can do the same with your recruiters!

Prepare some ideas you have that could help grow their business, and present them during the hiring process.

Just be sure to present your ideas respectfully. You don’t want to simply tell them how they’re doing things wrong, but rather show them how serious you are about making things better for everyone involved.

    3. Stay Humble

    When you think of cut-throat competitive companies, you probably imagine something like a stereotypical 1980’s investment firm. A real “Wolf of Wall Street” type vibe.

    And with it, the brash, boastful, overly-confident, sales-minded professional who’s looking out for themselves and nobody else.

    If that sounds anything like what you imagine an ideal candidate in your industry is supposed to be like, then it’s time to turn off the TV and look at the reality of how an organization operates.

    No company is looking to fill up their team with self-interested people. Because the goal of any organization isn’t to help one particular person win — it’s for people to come together to accomplish more as a team than they can as individuals.

    One mistake competitive job seekers make is that they focus on their achievements and successes. And while it’s important to celebrate your victories, it’s also important to show how those victories benefited the whole business.

    It’s also important to acknowledge the others that supported you so you were able to achieve what you’ve achieved.

    When you show that you’re looking at the big picture this way, then recruiters will know you’ve got the right perspective!


      Even in a highly competitive industry, your biggest competitor for any job will always be you.

      But when you take these strategies to heart, and start applying them to your job search, then you’ll always stay ahead of the competition!

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