We all want to make a great first impression. We all want to be told after our interview that we were the stand out job applicant. It’s the glorious light at the end of the job seeking tunnel, right? But what does it take to be a stand out candidate?
Firstly, what are we really saying when we say some one is a stand out job applicant? They might:
- have a great positive energy
- clearly demonstrate the ability to perform in the role
- complement the team structure
- appear to adapt quickly to new roles
- bring something unique to the team
So when you really break it down, being a stand out job applicant is about having the right combination of soft skills and technical abilities.
Writing a stand out application
Let’s look at some ways you can be the stand out job applicant and get recruiters and employers excited to interview you.
Your resume is tight and polished
Sorry to sound like a broken record… but we suggest always tailoring your resume for the position you are applying for.
This might involve reading the position description and identifying what the top 4 technical and soft skills are essential or desirable. Try to highlight your experience developing and strengthening these skills when describing your responsibilities in previous roles.
We also think the practice of writing a career summary has a great stand out factor. It’s a really neat way to eloquently sum up your experience and capabilities.
Your cover letter is well written and interesting
Cover letters are where you can get a bit more comfortable and a bit more you.
Is there something that makes you stand out from the crowd? This is your chance to make a big deal about it. It could be something that exemplifies a technical or soft skill you might have that other candidates may not.
Make it personal and discuss some of the experiences you have had in the workforce that make you special. It’s also worth explaining recent or significant gaps in your employment history, such as time taken off to study, caring for somebody or travel. This way your cover letter can act to join the dots of your resume and create a fuller picture of you as an individual.
Your application contains well answered selection criteria
Think of selection criteria as your opportunity to really nail it and shine.
Well answered selection criteria can demonstrate your comprehension skills. This means your ability to read, understand and synthesise a response. Imagine yourself in the role and provide at least one specific example for each criteria. Make sure to answer every criteria within the word limit!
We recommend checking out our STAR method blog to keep your response relevant and on topic.
Your social media network
Beyond making sure there are no nasty surprises lurking on your profile, social media can actually be a tool to help you stand out. Making sure you have an updated LinkedIn which reflects the same experience in your application is a great start. LinkedIn is a great source of information about you as a employee. Use it to show:
- Who you know. LinkedIn can show a network in a way a cover letter and CV can not.
- What you couldn’t fit in your tailored resume and cover letter. Use LinkedIn to fill in the blanks for employers who are keen to know more.
Not convinced its worth the effort? Here is our resource on the professional networking platform.
Depending on your industry, it might also be a good idea to be proactive on other platforms, like Twitter and Instagram.
Be the stand out interview candidate
Well done, you got a interview! Now it’s really time to sell yourself and draw upon those soft skills.
Make sure you are present in the moment and that you’re really listening and understanding interview questions. Pro tip: remember names and reply directly to the interviewer.
While you’re listening to questions, pull apart the important information and think about how you can respond. This will demonstrate that you can think on your feet and can draw upon your technical experiences.
This is just as much about your ability to articulate as it is about your ability to show that you are a professional.
It is really important that you look the part. Your appearance can show you’re sharp, clean and ready to work. Keep things plain and simple. But, that doesn’t mean void of personality. You don’t need buy a whole new wardrobe either.
But wait! There are more ways to be the stand out job applicant
Get on the phone
Ok so outside the standard application and interview interaction, how can you get employers’ attention and stand out from the crowd?
It’s a great idea to call before you apply for a job to create a level of familiarity which will help you remain memorable throughout the recruitment process. It helps to have a reason to call and you can use this as an opportunity to find out more about the role you are applying for and the workplace.
An example could be that you’re calling to ask about who’s currently in the role, about the size of the team and further detail on the role. We have some great tips in this blog about the virtues of the humble phone call.
It’s also worth giving a buzz after the interview and the recruitment process to get feedback on your interview.
Draw upon your network
A little bit of familiarity can go a long long way. If you can draw upon your professional and personal network to give you hints, tips, suggestions or contacts within a workplace or industry, consider yourself lucky and draw down upon that information. Remember this is useful but not a golden ticket, you still need to bring your A-game.
Prepare your references
It’s always worth keeping in contact with your most recent employer or workplace. This will help you when using them as a reference for your future positions. It’s worth letting previous employers know about what jobs you’re using them as a reference for.
And a final word of warning. If you’re currently employed, it’s not a great look when your current supervisor gets a call they didn’t expect. If you’re going to use your current supervisor as a reference, YOU NEED TO TELL THEM!
Now, go forth and be awesome!
Images: iStock, Giphy