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Pro tips for standing out from the pack while looking for a job during the pandemic

An SEO expert speaks about how to stand out from the crowd if you are looking for work. Also: the growing call to extend federal unemployment benefits.

If you are one of many searching for a job right now, you might take some advice from a man who has made a career out of search engine optimization, or SEO, which is basically making things stand out in internet search results.

Chris Rodgers, Founder and CEO of Colorado SEO Pros, says if you are a professional trying to stand out in the job market, there are some things you can do.

Social media musts

First, he says you need to be on LinkedIn. You should use your profile as a resume, and it should be updated to match your actual resume and look as professional as possible.

“When we are hiring people, I look at resumes," Rodgers said. "That is great. I know that that is what someone submitted to me intentionally to represent themselves. And then I go do my own research and yes, I very much expect to find a LinkedIn profile and I find it 90 percent of the time. And when I go on there and there is not a lot of information, it is off-putting.”

Before you even conduct your job search, Rodgers says you should make sure when employers search you, they see consistency and good examples of your work.

“Think of you the person as a brand. Some people even create their own personal websites to show off their accomplishments and experience," Rodgers said.

For consistency, he suggests you have a polished, standard image, "then make that the picture across your social media channels. Again, think about yourself as a brand that has a logo that is recognizable.”

Look out: Your resume could get rejected by the automated sorter

Rodgers says when you see job postings you’re interested in, pay close attention to the skills and education that are required. Rodgers says it can help you create a custom, strong resume.

“I would go in and look at specific skills, the software programs they are mentioning. Start looking at these position descriptions and start looking at for keywords…the types of things that are going to be indicative of a match from an applicant tracking system," Rodgers said.

"Once you have gone in an identified these different positions you can look at those keywords and start integrating them into your resume and into your LinkedIn profile."

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For those who don’t know, applicant tracking systems are automated programs that whittle down applicants applying for a position. They can be a potent gatekeeper.

"If you have got 10,000 applicants, applications that are coming in with resumes, and you’ve got to get it down to 250 so it can go to the HR department, how are you going to do that? These are the systems that are doing it," Rodgers said.

But Rodgers says there are some things that applicant tracking systems don’t like — namely, anything too fancy.

“Stick to some fairly standard fonts. Don’t try to create an art masterpiece that you think is going to stick out because the applicant tracking system may look at it and not even be able to decipher the information.”

Look out: Your resume could get rejected by a human, too

Beyond that, even when your resume gets to a human, Rodgers says you want your resume to be straightforward, easy to understand and easy to read and not too flashy.

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"If the [hiring manager] comes to one with a bunch of colors on it or graphics, and it’s got this really innovative design, honestly that can be annoying because you don’t have time and you are trying to figure out what you are looking at and you’re trying to just find the information.”

Interviewing remotely

If you get to the next step, you should understand that many interviews might be conducted remotely. Rodgers advises you to pay attention to your background and what is going on around you. That is a representation of you. 

"If you are doing an interview and potentially it is remote work, they are going to say, 'Is that the environment this person is going to be working in?'" Rodgers said.

RELATED: LinkedIn laying off nearly 1,000 amid hiring slowdown

Finally, Rodgers says you should know your competition and what can make you more competitive, like seeing if you should seek extra qualifications through certifications and checking out what other companies are looking for.

On another note: The movement to save the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit from expiring

#SaveThe600 is the hashtag and rallying cry that a group plans to take to the U.S. Capitol this week after more than 1.5 million people signed a petition asking lawmakers to extend the federal unemployment payment of $600 per week through the end of the year. 

Lawmakers are discussing options now. 

Without an extension, that extra $600 weekly benefit will go away for unemployed Texans after July 25th.

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