Standing outTuesday, March 14, 2017
We all want to stand out as the candidate that should be chosen for the job. People go to great lengths to do this, sending gifts, using decorative resumes, and many other gimmicks. These things work for some people, but only with the right job and hiring manager. If you're applying to work for a company that only takes the best of the best, this might be what you have to do to get noticed. If this isn't the case though, I wouldn't bother going to these extremes.
Instead of focusing your efforts on being noticed, try showing why you're suitable instead. Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to stand out amongst a sea of other candidates.
In every interview I've had, I was asked the question
What do you know about this company?
If the interviewer has to explain basic information to you about what the company does and what the position involves, it shows a lack of interest on your part. When it's clear you've done your research, you stand out more as someone who wants the job. You don't need to know all the ins and outs of the company, just enough that you can answer the question when it's asked.
Beware of gimmicks
When you search Google for ways to stand out when going for a job, the most common suggestion is to use your resume. Some suggest using lots of colours, dividing your resume up with borders, one even suggested using paper that's bigger than the standard so it sticks out when placed in a pile. There are jobs and situations where these sort of things have worked, that's why people suggest them. The problem is, people see that it worked for one person, so they assume it will work for them as well. They don't take into account how that person's situation differed from their own.
For example, appearance is important in the acting industry, so it's common for people to have a photo of themselves on their resume. In other industries though, putting a photo of yourself on your resume can lead to discrimination and unfair judgements being made about you before the employer has meet you or even read your resume. For this reason, if you're going to try and use tricks or gimmicks to stand out from the crowd, have a think about why it was used and why it was successful for the person that used it. It may not work for you in the way you're hoping.
Have a relevant resume
I agree that you need to use your resume and cover letter to stand out, but instead of focusing on aesthetics and decoration, focus on the content. After all, what's the point of getting noticed, if once you're noticed, you can't prove why you should be hired. This is why tailoring your resume, and not using a generic cover letter is important for each job you apply for.
Make sure that the information on your resume supports your application. This may be skills that could be of use, experience and education that shows you've done a task or know how to do it, and achievements or accomplishments that show where you've excelled.
Make a good impression
If you're called in for an interview you need to make a good first impression, they've seen something in you that has them interested, don't make them change their mind because of your behaviour. Earlier in the year I shared a post on Facebook about interview karma. A man stole a parking spot and swore at the guy waiting for it. Turns out the guy he was rude to was the interviewer he was there to see. I don't know if he ended up getting the job or how this affected his chances, but his behaviour would have certainly created an obstacle that didn't have to be there.
As this example shows, once you're at the office or store for your interview, be on your best behaviour. A careless word or action to or in front of someone who doesn't seem important at the time, could end up having consequences.
What you say and do during the interview is going to be a major indicator of your skills and abilities, so make sure you prepare beforehand. Having some examples that show what you've done and how you've handled situations, will give the employer a glimpse into what you're like as an employee.
As well as what you say, how you act also gives an indication about you. A positive attitude and good body language can help make a great impression. This includes things like shaking the interviewer's hand, eye contact when speaking, and not fidgeting or moving around during the interview. I understand some of these things may not be easy or do able by everyone. I don't have a lot of strength in my hands, so my handshakes are usually weak. Just do your best and don't worry about it.
Talk to your referees
Make sure you have two or three referees ready to go. Referees should be people that know what you're like to work with, as this is the information the employer is going to want. Personal referees such as friends or family members can talk about your personality, but will have limited information on your work life. Make sure you check with people before you use them as referee, and don't use people that are unwilling or won't have anything nice to say about you.
After an interview, showing that you appreciated the opportunity to interview for the job can leave a good impression. The traditional approach is to write your message on a card. This may be more personal, but we're in the digital age so I think an email should be fine. You don't have to worry about bad hand writing, you can have it sent quickly and you won't end up annoying people if they don't care about cards.
A thank you note should only contain a small message not something that fills the page. If you decide to send a thank you note, make sure you proof read it. Spelling and grammar mistakes will make your message look sloppy and unprofessional.
We all want to stand out and be remembered. Hopefully the thing that makes you stand out is a positive one. When doing things to make yourself stand out, don't so anything that gets you remembered as someone they should avoid.