The current job market is as competitive as ever and in order to provide yourself with the best possible chance of success, try focussing on how you are actually approaching your job search.

It may be that you, like most individuals, look for new positions in a fairly formulaic manner: you search the newspapers, or online job ads and perhaps search through professional journals related to your specific field. This will be followed up with a CV and covering letter and some careful preparation for any upcoming interviews. Although all these steps are important parts of any job search – in order to provide yourself with the best chance of success, it is advantageous to understand how the system works as much as you possibly can.

For most positions employers will receive many CVs – the initial read through of this sizeable number of applications will be done relatively quickly, so it is important to make sure at this early stage you are noticed. Being able to insert even some small level of familiarity between you and the individuals hiring, can have beneficial effects. So where possible ask questions, volunteer at an event the company is sponsoring, or take a tour of the company’s facilities and try to get an introduction to members of the human resources team.

The important thing is to gain some level of familiarity because, as psychologists have known for decades – people like ‘things’ they have been exposed to before. This is a big reason why, for example, crowds cheer loudest at concerts when songs are played that have been on the radio, it’s not necessarily that they are the best songs, but the element of familiarity evokes a recognition and appreciation from the members of the audience.

Once you’ve gotten beyond that first stage many young graduates and first time job seekers will pride themselves on gaining employment entirely by themselves. Whilst this is commendable approach, the ultimate aim is to get the job. So begin networking; this is often an essential element in gaining employment and promotion throughout your career. So contact alumni from your university, attend industry related meetings and events and try where possible participate. The contacts you can make may then be able to provide you with a recommendation – this type addition to your CV will make you stand out from the crowd of other applicants.

Finally, perfect your pitch. Research has found that most people remember approximately three things about any new meeting and this rule will most likely apply to your interview, so be prepared. Focus on three things about yourself that you wish to highlight and when given the opportunity, include these points clearly in your CV and stay on message by coming back to them in a clear and concise manner during the interview.

The more you begin to understand about how a process works, the more power you will have to improve your chances of success, so remember: gain some level of familiarity, get out there and network, and finally, perfect your pitch.

Good luck!