With recruiters receiving an average of 250 CVs for every job post and spending between 5-7 seconds scanning each application, you need to make an impact - and make it fast when applying for a new job.
Writing a killer CV is only half the battle, however. You also need to make a strong, memorable impression during the interview phase if you want to land your dream job and stick out as a top contender.
So, how can you differentiate yourself from others to stay top-of-mind for that all-important role? Keep reading to find out, as we're discussing our top 13 tips and tricks to help you stand out throughout job applications and the interview stage.
Applying for your dream job: Our top tips for standing out
Having the right qualifications is no longer enough to secure a job offer. Though you might have the right degree, personality, and experience under your belt - so might ten other candidates.
How can you stand out? Learn how to go the extra mile to grab your potential employer's attention through applications and interviews with our top job hunting tips.
Tailor your CV to the role
If you're applying to every job you're interested in with the same CV, you're missing out on a seriously effective tip to ensure your application stands out: Matching your CV to the role.
See your CV and cover letter as more of a template that you can edit to highlight the experiences, skills, and personality traits that relate to that specific job.
Highlight your unique value
Though describing yourself as a "team player" or "hard-working" individual might be true, these descriptors can come across as too generic.
Instead, think about what makes you truly unique and be specific. Talk about the accomplishments, qualities, and value-adds that make you suitable for the role and include the results of your past efforts where possible.
Include relevant keywords
Most recruitment agencies and internal HR departments use Applicant Tracking Systems to help filter CVs and reduce candidate screening time.
They often exclude CVs based on a specific set of criteria searched through the use of keywords. So when you're writing your CV, ensure you're using the keywords you see in the job post throughout your text.
Improve your personal brand
To give yourself the best chance of standing out, it's a fantastic idea to boost your brand by setting up a LinkedIn profile and even a website.
Here, you can post professional achievements, personal achievements, and job-related posts to show employers you're serious about your career, set yourself apart from others, and show off your expertise.
Reach out to your network
Employers love meeting talent through referrals, as current employees have already given them the "thumbs up".
Increase your chances of an employee recommendation by reaching out to your professional network and letting people know you're currently looking for a new job. Hopefully, someone will put you forward should a role become available!
Do some serious digging
It's one thing answering that elusive "what do you know about us" question with what you remember from the about us page.
But to make an impact; research and talk about specific company reports, news, statistics, and even extra-curricular activities. Detailed information about the company will make you more memorable and show your genuine interest in the role.
Imagine you already have the job
If you're looking to impress your interviewer, act as though you already have the job you're applying for and think about what you can achieve in the first 3-12 months.
Maybe come up with a list of tasks you think will have a significant impact, innovative ideas for the company's future growth, and even a plan of action. Show you're thinking about the bigger picture and where you fit into it, and your employer will have an easier time visualising you in the new role.
Focus on agility and resilience
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and fast-evolving digital world, more employers are looking for talent that can persevere through tough times and react positively to change.
They need to know that you can adapt quickly as consumer demands change and champion an innovation mindset should a disruption impact the business world. Give examples of how you react to change, face challenges, and stay flexible.
Add personal touches where possible
Your employer/recruitment consultant could be interviewing anywhere from 5 to 25 candidates daily, making it easy to forget about you if you don't stick out in their minds.
One way to stay in the running is to add a personal touch, whether that's arriving with a coffee for your interviewers or leaving behind a portfolio of your work.
Discuss common interests
You'll often receive the name of the person interviewing you before the interview. Use this information to do some harmless internet stalking to see what they're interested in.
If it comes up naturally, try to highlight any common interests/hobbies you might have. By discussing shared interests, you're building a personal connection with your interviewer, making it easier for them to remember you.
Jazz up your outfit (just a little)
While it's essential to stick to the company's dress code, which may be more formal and "muted", it's a good idea to wear a unique accent colour or pattern that will make you stand out.
This bold accent could be something like a green tie, red earrings, polka dot shirt, or colourful cufflinks. An outfit element that "pops" will effectively help you to "pop!"
Ask interesting questions
There's nothing more harmful to your job chances than reaming off monotonous, rehearsed monologues about your experience.
One way to engage your interviewer and stand out is to ask thoughtful questions that will help you figure out if it's the right position for you. Here are some examples:
What projects are taking priority right now?
What challenges might the new employee face?
How do you assess employee performance?
What learning opportunities do you offer?
What advancement opportunities are there?
What's your vision for the company's future?
Send a personal thank you note
In a final bid to stand out, send a personal thank you email that gives your interviewer a good lasting impression of you.
Show gratitude for their time and if possible, offer them something tangible - whether that's your portfolio, a reflection on one of the questions, a link to your past work, or an anecdote about something you had in common.
Want even more job hunting advice?
You don't have to navigate your career alone. Our expert recruitment consultants are here to nurture you from job applications right through to interviews and onboarding.
At Buchanan Search, we help UK graduates, entry-level workers, and trainees navigate the next step in their professional journeys with helpful advice, attentive support, and ongoing access to the best job opportunities out there.
Get in touch with us today to carve out your dream career path, step by step.