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Competing for a Job

by Ron Kurtus (updated 28 May 2023)

When you apply for a job, there are usually others competing with you for the position.

Since you usually don't know who these people are or anything about them, this is a pure performance competition. You are judged purely on your résumé, interview performance and references. Optimizing your performance in these areas will improve your chances of winning the job.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.


You do not get a job with a résumé. It is a door-opener to get you an interview. But factors in your résumé can give you an edge over your competition. Your education and job experience are very important in showing you are more qualified than the other candidates.

How you format your résumé gives the employer an idea of how conscientious and what type of worker you are. Obviously, spelling errors, typos and grammatical mistakes will mark as points against you.


During the interview process, they will seek greater details on the work you have done to see how close it fits their needs, as well as to examine your knowledge. You need to be well-prepared and to put on a performance that will impress the employer.

But that performance must not be so good that you seem to be bragging. A very important part of the interview is that they like you. The employer wants to see how well you will fit in. They may take a less qualified applicant that is likable and seems like he or she will fit into their culture.


Your personal and professional references allows the company to verify what type of person you are. Unless your competition has poor references, they usually aren't a major factor in their decision.

But what can really give you an edge is if you have a reference that is personally known by the employer or manager.

For example, once when I was applying for a job, the manager noted where I had previously worked at a company where his old college roommate also worked. He asked me if I knew him, and I did. Then he asked if he could call him and ask some questions about me. Although I barely knew the fellow, the fact that he gave a few good words about me allowed me to beat out the competition and win the job.


Competition for a job is usually a pure performance competition, since you don't know who the other applicants are or anything about them. You are judged purely on your résumé, interview performance and references. Optimizing your performance in these areas will improve your chances of winning the job.

Study the requirements first

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