Winning a new role in today’s highly competitive job market requires a level of application that many job seekers may have thought was only required when preparing for their school-leaving examinations.

Here are a few simple tips to help you take your first step on the career ladder:

* Know where you want to get to

Only when you know where you want to get to can you work out how to get there.

Having this clarity for your career is crucial in enabling you to properly spot and evaluate the less obvious opportunities, which may not bring you an immediate big jump in salary or responsibility, but which will provide you with enhanced longer-term personal and career development opportunities.

* What makes you different?

The next thing to do is work out what your Unique Selling Propositions (USP) are. These include your background, achievements, skills, experience and expertise that will help you to stand out from other applicants and be of most interest and value to a prospective employer.

* How to stand out?

Now that you know what your USPs are, you need to decide how to market yourself so that your application immediately stands out positively from the inevitable mass of others that an employer will have received.

Make sure your resumé is concise, punchy and customised with your relevant achievements, qualifications and experience. Don’t include clichéd phrases like "works well as part of a team" or "highly motivated self-starter".

Instead, concentrate on showing where and how you have added value to previous employers, using specific and quantified examples.

Also, by showing that you possess the right mindset, in addition to your core qualifications and experience, if any, you can set yourself apart and make yourself a much more interesting candidate for any organisation looking to maximise their profit or surplus.

* Prepare, prepare, prepare

In the current vacancy-driven employment market, recruiting employers are taking the opportunity to be more rigorous and selective than ever in their search for top quality talent to bring in to their organisations.

After an employer has completed the initial sifting of applicants, leaving it with a short-list of talented candidates, the recruitment team will be under intense pressure to bring in the best available people.

Thorough preparation is essential if you want to enter the interview and assessment processes in the best possible shape to progress. In particular, make sure you comprehensively research the organisation and the sector in which it operates, paying particular attention to online media and any recent press releases.

Expect and prepare for tough competency-based interviews, and be ready to give specific examples of where and when you have demonstrated skills and achieved results that are relevant to the role you are being interviewed for.

An in-depth understanding of the organisation and the markets in which it operates will not only enable you to answer most of the questions interviewers may throw at you, it will also arm you to ask probing and pertinent questions of your own.

Finding a job quickly

Keep your skills up-to-date as the tools to find a job today have changed.

Here are a few key hints:

* Prepare a valuable CV. Keep your resumé as simple as you can by using key words. Recruiters and employers only have a few minutes to review your CV, so you need to make the most of it to draw their attention.

* Job boards. Register with the most popular job boards. Using online resources allows you to not only find opportunities in the local market but also around the world.

* Networking sites. Most employers and recruiters are not limited to using the traditional candidate searching methods. Sourcing ideal candidates has expanded rapidly into social media channels including sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

* Be prepared. Thoroughly research the company and job description. Discuss any questions and seek advice from your recruitment consultant to ensure you understand the job opportunity prior to your interview.

* Practise interview skills. Memorise your employment history. Set the outline for your presentation, and break down your duties and responsibilities on a daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis to ensure the interviewer fully comprehends your previous work experiences.