This week, we asked you what’s the best way to stand out as a job seeker? You got back to us with a variety of responses, but with a general theme.
To stand out, you need to offer something no one else can. You need to be aware of the company you are applying to, and you need to tailor your CV and cover letter to that organisation. There’s some really useful advice provided by contributors to the discussion below. Thanks to everyone that participated for their feedback!
Join our #UROpinion discussion every Monday on LinkedIn, where you can comment on our latest discussion now!
Here was my answer to the question on how I’ve tried to stand out as a job seeker:
“For me it’s conveying my personality online, selling me and my abilities! Visual content on my LinkedIn profile, own blog, a presence on relevant social networks, all whilst promoting my own new media content is how I convey what I offer!”
Anya Leadbetter, the first commenter on the discussion, touches on an obvious but essential tip: make sure you get a recruiters attention in any sane way possible. Use all contacts at your disposal can be the difference between getting no response from applications and landing your dream job. LinkedIn is a great starting point for contacting recruiters and distant contacts on job opportunities.
Standing out means offering something that others can’t provide. Candidates that have not only an impressive CV but are confident in how they carry themselves is a massive bonus. Confidently talking on the phone is an impressive skill, recruiter Dan Fitzpatrick confirms:
Sourcing Top Retail Talent at Trak Recruiting
“As a Recruiter the candidates that stand out to me are the ones that present well on paper but then perform well in the initial phone interview. For me this is key, there’s no point spending hours on a resume and then being flat on the phone, especially if you are looking for a role in Sales of some description.”
Michael Jones and Daniel Arlington both had similar answers regarding how it depends on what part of the hiring process it’s referring to. Job history stability is also mentioned. Hopping from one job to another is alarming to many recruiters!
Co-founder @ HospitalRecruiting.com
“I think the answer to this question depends on which stage of the hiring process we are talking about. If it’s getting your foot in the door for an interview, and you have the right amount of experience and qualifications, then the next things an in-house recruiter will look for is where are you from and do you have ties to the area, and how stable is your job history. Both of those qualifications are viewed as key indicators of a candidates potential to be a long-term hire. There was an interesting study done a few years ago by glassdoor that showed in-house recruiters spend an average of around 7 seconds prescreening resumes, so they aren’t getting into a lot of the fine details at the initial stages of evaluating candidates.”
“It depends on the sector in question. For example, there are often well cited stories of how, in the creative industry, there are those who have very inventive ways of presenting their CV’s other than the standard form – such as the designer who wrapped his CV around a chocolate bar. Alternatively, in other professional sectors its about demonstrating all the core competencies, but having a unique hook that can tie your personality to a company’s culture.”
Tech recruiter Donta Moore says that for job seekers preparation and research is key. Candidates stand out when they show genuine interest in the company they are applying for. Donta also mentions the general rule of not applying for jobs you’re not qualified for- you’d be surprised how often this happens!
Technical Recruiting Consultant at Rhapsody International
“This question needs to be answered in multiple phases. This is for job seekers wanting to work for a company not an agency:
As a job seeker applying through an ATS system you want to be well prepared for not only the role you are applying for but the company you are applying with. Candidates that stand out are the candidates that have high intellectual curiosity about the company they are applying for. They are well researched and really want to work for the organization, and not just looking for a job.
On a side note: If you apply for a role you do not have direct experience in, you need to be able to help the recruiter understand how your skills will transfer into the new role. I would also NOT recommend applying for a job you are not qualified for in hopes that the recruiter will see your resume and think about your skill-set for other opportunities. Most companies have an Jobs@ or HR@ email address in which you can express your interest in a role.”
Donta also added his tips for standing out on LinkedIn!
“Job seekers need to look at themselves as a Brand, and LinkedIn is one place you can increase your Professional Brand. I would 1st reach out to peers that have enjoyed working with you and ask for a recommendation. As a recruiter I like to read through the recommendations looking for consistencies in the message about a candidate. I would also recommend joining groups that are associated with your profession and being an active member of those groups (sort of like how we are responding to this question here in our group) as that is the network that could help you find your next career opportunity. Understand how to sell yourself as your LinkedIn profile is your opportunity to let everyone know about you professionally and neglecting to understand the power of this tool will catch up with you at some point in time.”
Curtis Sato touches on a very useful point: Candidates need to follow up on interviews. This may seem as desperate, but if you really want a vacancy it pays to check the status on an application with the source. It also shows interest when following up on a vacancy and may make a recruiter reconsider your application!
Frank Gaine offered a more creative perspective. Content quality is vital in this field, more so than other creative fields were presentation and confidence are much more key aspects. Viewing the thought process and the journey is just as vital to creative work, as it shows how you came to a result, and that you didn’t just stumble into your greatest idea yet.
UI/UX Designer at Shaadi.com
“It depends on the profile completely. I am talking about Designer’s and I agree with @Frank Gaine as design is not the ultimate goal of the designer but user experience is and for that the there needs to be research methodologies, scenarios, personas and much more is used. If you show the results of these then you are unique and different from others which will make you best and recruiters will love to hire you. Explain the thought process used and tell them how it helped the product to grow.”
Technical Recruiting Consultant at Rhapsody International
“Good note to make Frank. It does depend on the type of role you are looking for and what that profession find important.”
Nikki Tarr makes a vital point on CVs. Candidate that align their CV to the job isn’t misleading, but tailoring your abilities to the vacancy available. Cover Letters directed at an employer is essential, as blueprint cover letters sound soulless. Looking at a job description and making adjustments to your CV will make an application stand out. Doing your research into a company, as Steve Lovig mentions, also adds to sense of your fit for the role.
VP Human Resources, focused on Business Growth
“I suggest doing your research on both the recruiting firm, as well as their client, before you connect. If you have mutual connections, reach out to them for an introduction. Ensure you explain WHY you’re the right candidate. Shine on the phone interview by knowing your stuff, and SMILING while you speak. Be prepared with “stories” of your previous successes for the interview, and be sure to ASK the hiring manager questions. Send a Thank-you note following the interview, and follow-up after 7 days.”
It’s vital to offer something that will differentiate you from other candidates. As Karin Singh says, what value can they add to the company? Being overly prepared in some ways, such as the problem solving Singh mentions is a fantastic way of making an application unique.
“After covering all the other bases such as CV and Q+A, offer something the others dont.”
“What makes stand out a candidate? If a candidate can already demonstrate in a very practical way what a difference he can make to the company. What value s/he can add to it. Something who has already written down a strategy how to tackle a company’s problem/challenge and can effectively present it! That would truly impress me! Furthermore, if he/she did some proper research on the company, the job, the person who is interviewing him/her, the competitors. Knowledge is key and asking smart questions should not be underestimated.”
Christina E. Rodriguez provides the straightforward advice: do good work, get people to see it, and people will recognise you for your achievements.
We ask our #UROpinion Question every Monday on Twitter. Be sure to join us on LinkedIn, where you can comment on our latest discussion now!
QUESTION: Should you stop job-hunting over Christmas? http://t.co/1FXGQek2oo #UROpinion pic.twitter.com/2xZ99CSQGN
— Undercover Recruiter (@UndercoverRec) December 2, 2014