Stand out from the rest of the candidates!

This week on EnergyPower Lab, let us look at the ways that we can be differentiate ourselves from the rest. The job market is getting more and more competitive by the year and it is becoming increasingly challenging to stand out from others. It is safe to say that there are over 200 applicants to 1 job application; what are the odds? This gives an employer seconds to skim through your application. The question is how can I attract his/her attention in those short few seconds?

The way to do it is to make your application stand out from the rest. Here are a few tips that you can work on to stand out- for the right reasons- from the hundreds and thousands of other applicants hungry for that job position:

Pass the first round!

Before you look at anything else, there are very simple ways your application is not put straight in the recycling bin.

  • Dear who?…make sure your application is addressed to the right person
  • Read and re-read! Avoid poor spelling and grammatical errors
  • In this moment, you do not know best! Follow the instructions provided in the job advertisement – all of them
  • Get your application in by the due date – they will not make an exception for you.
  • Everyone loves a neat CV with justified alignments and consistent fonts, text sizes and sub-titles.

Do your research…

Make sure you do your research on the company, not just the job. Find out as much as you can about the company’s organizational culture and values and use this knowledge to tailor your application to suit the experience and own personal values. Also, use similar key words that the company uses to describe themselves. It will make you sound like you can fit right in!

A helpful strategy is to contact the company to ask questions – this helps you understand the job better. Also, the person you talk to might recognise your name when your application is received, and this could help you to stand out from the rest.

Avoid generic cover letters and CVs

No, we do not care if you have won a spelling bee when we want you to go out and sell our product. However, a journalism job will appreciate that! Change your resume and cover letter for each specific job application to make sure the skills and experience you mention are best fit for the job. Make sure your cover letter and resume highlights your strongest and most relevant skills and abilities to each company based on your research.

These are the things that will catch the employer’s attention (in a good way):

  • Read the job requirements thoroughly and address each item in the selection criteria with specific examples from present or past experience
  • Be brief, but be relevant. An employer is not going to be willing to read a 10 line paragraph.
  • You can talk about your key achievements and responsibilities in previous jobs, but make sure you only talk about relevant achievements and responsibilities

There are many things your eyes can miss when you are staring at something for too long. Ask a teacher, parent, mentor or friend to look over your application and make suggestions for improvement before you submit it.

It is fairly common that organisations and employment agencies use software to scan job applications for keywords, so make sure your cover letter and resume include the words that the employer used in the position description.

Avoid Gimmick

Don’t stand out in the wrong way. Glittery cover letters and funky fonts do not impress employers!

Stand out in your interview

Prepare for the interview thoroughly. Go in to interview having obviously researched the company profile. The interviewer will most likely ask you if you have any questions in the end of the interview. Put together a list of a few questions you can ask. “What is the salary?” should not be one of them. Not yet at least.

After the interview, if the employer hasn’t contacted you by the expected date, don’t be shy about dropping a quick follow up email or phone call.

Ask for feedback

Even if you don’t get the job, it’s a good idea to follow up with the employer and ask why your application was unsuccessful. Any feedback you receive can help you improve future applications.