How can you stand out as a candidate?

Posted on 7 Sep 2022

We know it can be disappointing and it's hard not to feel let down if you don't get a job - especially if you felt an interview went well.  But, staying upbeat in your job search is vital if you're to avoid any note of frustration or desperation creeping in to your applications or at interview.

To feel more in control of your job search, give yourself daily or weekly goals for contacting a particular number of people or applying for a number of jobs even following up on leads and researching companies. Make sure people you know are aware you're looking for a job. Leads can come from all sorts of unlikely places, so stay visible to friends, ex-colleagues, neighbours and so on.

It is important however, not to let it get on top of you and feel overwhelmed so do make sure you avoid getting sucked into rabbit holes, build in timed breaks to get a coffee, get some fresh air or go for walk etc. Always remember there are thousands of people feeling the same as you during long job searches and there are various online discussion groups where you may well be able to get further support and advice to help when things get tough.

The job market is exceptionally hard right now though and with strong competition for most vacancies a key question is how can you stand out?

For every application you submit you could be up against numerous other candidates who have a similar skill set, but your USP can set you apart. So what makes you different? Maybe it’s your volunteer work, or the blogs you write. It could be your hobbies or a subject matter you have in a particular interest in.  One thing is for sure, your CV needs to stand out so, so here are some tips to help:

Make your personal statement unique

Your personal statement is the first thing an employer or recruiter sees when they open your CV, meaning that getting it right is absolutely key if you want them to read on.

Focus on who you are, what you can offer, and what your career goals are – using the job advert/description to help you identify the specific skills the employer or recruiter is looking for. Remember you want to stand out, this means placing an emphasis on your most impressive, interesting, and relevant skills and abilities. Aim for around four or five lines and you’ll be on the right track.

Be relevant

With such a wide and large choice of applicants for employers and recruiters to choose from, increasingly, candidates are being discounted for not having the exact experience or skills matched to the job criteria. So, make sure you focus your work experience on your CV to respond to the requirements of the vacancy or the company as closely as you can. The job advert should give you a good idea of what's expected, but if not, then compare it with others for the same role or industry to get an idea of what's commonly required. Alternatively, make contact with the recruiter to find out the profile of the ideal candidate.

Find out what the person in the role will be expected to achieve, why they're recruiting for the role now and any other information that will help you make your CV more relevant for the role itself.

Make your CV clear as to what you have done, as opposed to what the team or the company where you worked did. Clients are keen to know what you specifically have done and can do.

Prepare, Prepare and Prepare

Ideally, you want to know more about the company and the person interviewing you than any of the other candidates. Find out who the key people in the organisation are, what the company is best known for, their achievements and awards. Research the organisation itself; the products or services they offer, clients, suppliers and competitors. What challenges is their industry facing and what opportunities are out there?

Most importantly, don’t give up and always aim to stand out. It takes someone just seven seconds to save or reject a job applicant’s CV so creating a succinct CV is absolutely vital if you want to land that all-important interview.

We’d love to hear your ideas on how to stand out, what tips and advice do you have? Do you have a success story to share?