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7 Tips To Make Your Job Application Stand Out

I often hear from my clients:

"How do I make my application stand out in the job market?"

It's a common stressor when looking for a new job. Now that job hunting is mostly done on online job boards, job hunters are applying for dozens of positions while competing against hundreds of other applicants. With so much noise, it can be hard to make an impact on recruiters and hiring managers alike.

Here are a few tips to help you make your resume and application stand out amongst the crowd and land an interview.

1. Research the company

Research will never lead you astray. When looking for a new role, you should ALWAYS - I repeat - ALWAYS do your research. Doing your research will help you understand the company's mission, objectives and culture. By knowing what makes your future employer unique, you can understand exactly how you fit into their organization. Good research will help you craft a better resume, write a better cover letter, and ask better questions.

2. Communicate what makes you unique

This may seem obvious - I know - but what better way to stand out than to show off what makes you unique! You have to learn how to convince employers that you're different than every other applicant in their inbox. The best way to do that is to make room for at least one unique item on your resume that you want to be asked about in an interview. Make sure it's at least somewhat related to your field, but don't stress if it's not past work experience.

Here are some examples:

  • Maybe it's a project you're proud of

  • Volunteer experience

  • A semester or trip abroad (if you are a recent graduate)

By using even a small amount of your resume space for a unique job-related experience, you are helping employers understand what makes you special. Plus - it will be something that makes you more memorable as a candidate.

3. List accomplishments

The most important section of your resume is "Work Experience." It's a resume - employers will want to see what you've done in your career. However, I urge you not to make the crucial mistake of just listing your responsibilities. Often times, my clients hand me resumes that just list tasks or responsibilities far too similar to a job description.

For example:

"Responsible for team development."

INSTEAD - you should be making every line on your resume FEEL like an accomplishment.

Think: Action- Descriptor- Result or Impact

For example:

"Created a team development program for 5 departments resulting in a 3% increase in employee engagement scores in a 6 month period."

Everyone has work responsibilities, but be sure to start each accomplishment with an impactful action verb and include measurable achievements where possible.

4. Proofread your resume

This one is SO important and SO easy to miss. You should always proofread your resume for grammar and spelling mistakes. Neglecting to check over your resume can cause a recruiter to dismiss your application before you get the chance to leave an impression. Typos show that you don't care about details, and employers often want detail-oriented employees. You're already competing against loads of error-free resumes, so don't make it harder for yourself by having typos!

TIP: Snag a friend, colleague or family member to review your resume. A fresh, unbiased set of eyes are best!

5. Network for referrals

Your application may be FANTASTIC, but it might still struggle getting through the door.

Fun Fact: Did you know there are more than 250 ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) on the market today?

As we discussed earlier, you may be going up against hundreds of applications if you apply through a job board. On top of that, you are battling keyword searches.

So, the very best way to get your resume noticed is to apply with a referral where possible. Referrals can be difficult to come by, and require lots of time and relationship building. However, they are are worth it in the end.

To get a referral, try reaching out to someone in your targeted organization with a similar role to the one you are targeting. If not, try connecting with someone you know in the organization. (Connecting authentically with either the hiring manager or recruiter can be helpful, too.)

Asking for informational interviews through messaging on LinkedIn is a great first way to connect. Once you have rapport, and if you discern that the time is right - ask them if would be willing to look over your resume and/or recommend you for the position.

TIP: Building rapport takes time. Start with those that know you best and utilize the connection process on LinkedIn. If you try asking for a referral right after you reach out, they may be less likely to refer you if they are unfamiliar with who you are.

6. Create a portfolio

Portfolios are great ways to show off your work and make your application POP. For some fields, such as marketing, IT, design, art, PR and more, portfolios may be required. For others, they may be optional. Consider spending time developing a professional portfolio that is easy to navigate and use.

One idea is to create a free website using your favorite CMS application. Remember, if employers check out your portfolio, it may only be for a brief glance - so make sure your portfolio is easy to skim.

7. Follow up

Once your application is submitted, you should be proactive in following up on your application. Following up in a timely and tactful manner shows that you are committed to the role and that you're capable of healthy workplace communication. Before you reach out though, make sure that the company wants to be communicated with. Some organizations, typically larger ones, have no interest in receiving follow-up messages. It will usually be clear after applying what an organization prefers. If they are okay with receiving follow-up emails, reach out a week or so after applying.

Here's an example follow-up email for you to use as a template:

Dear [List Hiring Manager's name or just "Hiring Manager" if unknown],

I hope this email finds you well.

I recently applied for the [position title] position at [company name] and wanted to check in on your decision timeline. I am still very interested in the position and would love the opportunity to join the team and bring my [specific skills] to help [what you would be doing].

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. If you have any questions about my application, I would be happy to answer them for you via [list preferred method of contact].

Best regards,

[Your Name]

[List contact information]

If you want more help creating an outstanding application, we have resources to help!

Start by booking a FREE career strategy session with me - Career Coach Julie Shore! By the end of a call, I'll help you determine the best plan for YOU that will help you meet your career goals on your timeline.

Here's what Kate, one of my former clients had to say about her time with Career Development Advisors.

“Julie truly cares about her clients and their success, personally and professionally - so much so that she even called me during her vacation to check in before my first interview. Julie not only eased my stress and anxiety around changing careers, but gave me the confidence in myself and my skills to get out there and take interviews.” 

If you want real job search advice from a Recruiter, HR Leader and Career Coach, Julie Shore has the experience to provide best in class job search advice, strategies and tools to help her clients achieve their goals in real time with real results.

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