How To Make Your Job Application Stand Out
Getting a job sounds like an easy proposition, doesn’t it? After all, everyone else seems to have one, so how hard can it be? Unfortunately, getting a job that you enjoy, that pays well and that offers you something more than 40 hours a week of drudgery isn’t that easy. There are huge numbers of people out there looking for exactly the same thing. When the right job pops up, you have to be aware that you’re not going to be the only person clamouring after it. With so much competition, you need a strategy to make the employer sit up and take a closer look at your CV over the next person’s. We’re going to take a look at some ways you can give yourself a leg up in the job hunt from our own experience.
Don’t Stand Out the Wrong Way
A person standing naked in a public fountain whistling Greensleeves will certainly stand out, but they’re still going to end up arrested for indecent exposure. In the same way, a CV that stands out from its fellows in the wrong way is still going to end up in the paper shredder. You have to work out a way to capture attention without ruffling feathers.
One piece of questionable advice that has been floating around lately is that you should leave out your cover letter when applying. Advocates of this strategy claim that employers never read the cover letter anyway and you’d be better served by making a direct phone call to introduce yourself instead. Let’s take a look at this.
Now, depending on the company a direct call to the employer could indeed be a good idea, but leaving off the cover letter when submitting your application makes no sense even so. Firstly, even if the employer doesn’t read it, having it shows that you have at least taken the time to find out something about the company and personalise your application in some way. Leaving it out and simply submitting your generic CV immediately shows the recruiter that you couldn’t be bothered doing ten minutes legwork to individualise your application for the position. That’s not a good look right off the bat, and many employers out there will just throw your CV in the bin without purusing it further. Sure, you got noticed, but it was for the wrong reasons and got you the wrong result.
Many job seekers think the best way to stand out is to make their CV “fun”. Images, colours, jokes, puns and funny fonts are all popular choices, and all of them are bad ideas. Just don’t do it please!
Okay, maybe that’s harsh, but generally, unless their is a specific reason why the organisation you’re interested in would like that sort of thing, trying to stand out through superfluous aesthetic choices isn’t going to work.
Understand Your Application
So far it seems like we’ve only told you what not to do. But what about things that you should do?
The best way to make yourself stand out is to be the applicant who is most familiar and most invested in the company before you’ve even been in for an interview. That doesn’t just mean taking a squizz at some Linkedin profiles or googling the company goals, it means going beyond that. Keep on top of what the company is doing and what it’s involved in - events it hosts etc. If at all possible, become involved on a volunteer level so that you can show a prior involvement with the organisation if and when an interview does eventuate.
Sounds like a lot of work right? Unfortunately, with so many graduates out there the job market is as competitive as it’s ever been. Obviously you can’t go to such lengths with every single company you apply to, but for the jobs that really pique your interest and that you most want to have a chance with, it’s a very good strategy to employ.
Make Your Online Presence Meaningful
If you’re a normal, 21st century human being then you’ve probably got an online presence. We’re talking Facebook, Instagram, whatever. If it’s online and has your name attached to it then it has the potential to affect your job prospects.
Make sure that at the very least your online presence isn’t going to be harmful to your chances of landing a job. If your personal Facebook isn’t exactly boss friendly then make sure it’s set to private so they can’t see exactly what sort of photos from the weekend you were tagged in. More than one person has lost their job to a wayward Facebook post over the years.
Writing the perfect CV is harder than it sounds. You don’t want to sound cliched and boring, yet you also can’t go too far the other way and risk getting ignored for looking unprofessional. With such stringent guidelines governing what is and isn’t okay for a CV, how can you make yours stand out?
It’s a subtle art, but the thing you want to focus on is content over design. Try and blow the recruiter way with what’s written in your resume rather than with what it looks like and you’ll probably have much more success. Without becoming too informal or unprofessional, do your best to inject a little personality into your resume, and particularly into your cover letter. Consider how many others the recruiter is going to have to read through, and do your best to make yours an enjoyable experience for them. Or at the very least, as painless as possible. In your resume, focus on your achievements rather than simply stating your work experience - talk up what you learnt and what you achieved while you were working at Wendy’s from 2010-2014, even if it isn’t much.
The most important thing you should keep in mind when applying for a job that you’re passionate about is how you can make yourself more attractive to the employer. Whether this be by getting involved with the company beforehand, by making any possible online connections you can or simply by writing your resume better than the competition - making yourself stand out in the right way is always a good idea.
This article was brought to you by Uni-Span, a scaffolding, formwork and engineering solutions. They have compiled these tips from 100’s of job applications they have received in the past. The work they do involves engineering scaffolding and formwork solutions for a variety of projects around Australia.