In the current market where unemployment is at 7.4% and underemployment is at 11.7%, as a recruiter I am constantly speaking with candidates who are looking for new roles.
At the same time, I’m speaking to our existing clients regarding their needs and building new relationships with employers who are already time poor and potentially looking through hundreds of applications.
It’s a tough time to stand out from the crowd. What can you do to help your application be seen?
Below are my top 3 tips to help you stand out, particularly at the very beginning of the application process.
- Re-evaluate your resume
A well-presented resume has moved beyond a list of roles and duties; employers want to see specific skills and key achievements and how they have been demonstrated in each role. And good news if you aren’t familiar with clean and simple layout styles, you don’t need to work in graphic design to create a visually appealing document!
If it has been a while since you updated your resume, re-evaluate it through the following lenses:
- Is it concise?
- Is it targeted to the job?
DO: Make your resume visually appealing and easy to read. Use short, direct sentences or dot points, and tweak your resume for each job application. Save your resume in a common document format, such as Word or PDF.
DON’T: Don’t exceed three pages as a general rule. Don’t assume the same resume is suitable for every job you apply for. Once you’ve established a career path, we don’t need to know about your high school job at the fish and chip shop.
WHY IT MATTERS: A good resume can be the difference between receiving an initial call or being ruled out as not suitable. Make sure that your resume accurately describes your professional skills and experience, and showcases how you tick all (or most) of the boxes for a successful applicant.
- Be prepared, know the job
When you apply for a role, be prepared to receive a call from the recruiter or the hiring manager. It’s frustrating on both sides speaking with a candidate who does not remember what the role is or even applying for the position!
When applying for multiple positions, write a list, set-up a spreadsheet or find another way of keeping track of those jobs and the organisations you have submitted your application to (some job boards facilitate this). More importantly, keep a record of why you applied.
Once you submit an application, add it to your list and jot down three things you liked about the role that made you want to apply. That way, when you receive a call, you will have a cheat sheet to jog your memory.
DO: Keep a record of the roles you apply for and what you liked about the role. Be prepared for a call and refer to your notes about why you’re suitable and why you want the job.
DON’T: Don’t try to wing it and hope for the best. If you’ve kept notes, you won’t be caught off guard by questions such as, “Why did you apply for this role?” or “What will you bring to this role?”
WHY IT MATTERS: This is your opportunity to really impress a hiring manager or recruiter with your level of preparation, to convey yourself as a candidate who is keen, on-the-ball and knows what they want!
- Communicate well – answer your phone
Even though we’re now accustomed to text messages or communicating via social apps, the first point of contact from a prospective employer will often be a phone call.
It is good manners if you don’t know who the caller is to greet them and to identify yourself when you pick up the call: “Hello, this is Hayley” or “Good afternoon, Hayley speaking” would suffice. This way the caller knows that they are (or aren’t!) speaking to the right person, and it provides them an opening to introduce themselves and the reason for their call.
If you don’t normally use voicemail, consider setting one up while you are applying for jobs. It should tell the caller who they are leaving a message for and invite them to leave their name, contact number and the reason for their call. If you already have a voicemail set up, review your message to check that it meets these criteria and that the recording is clear and easy to understand, without any background noise.
DO: Treat your phone like a business phone – answer politely, greet the caller and identify yourself, set up your voicemail message with a brief instructional message in your own voice.
DON’T: Don’t wait for the caller to speak first or answer an unknown number in a casual or rude way. It’s preferable not to use voice to text messaging services or other automated voicemail services that limit a caller’s ability to leave you a detailed message. Please don’t make a joke out of your voicemail – it won’t be funny if an important caller hangs up!
WHY IT MATTERS: This is your opportunity to make a good first impression and position yourself with a personal brand for being a good communicator. Simply being friendly and polite can set you apart from other applicants.
What are you doing to stand out from the crowd? What are some of the strategies that have worked well for you?