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12 sure-fire ways to stand out while job hunting

By Alison Rodericks | 19 December 2018

Job hunting can be a challenging process. You’ve been applying for jobs left, right and centre but have had no luck getting your foot into an office door. You’ve got the skills and the experience, but you haven’t been called back by a single recruiter. You’re dejected, you’re deflated and, frankly, you have no idea what to do next.

How do you stand out from the crowd when job hunting?

How do you get noticed among the 263 other job applicants all vying for the same position? We’ve got a 12-step plan for job hunting success. Are you ready?

#1: Rewrite your cover letter

HR managers and recruiters have the onerous tasks of sifting through tons of job applications. They don’t want to read yet another boring cover letter in the usual stock-standard format. Give them something worth reading. Make those few paragraphs count.

You need to clearly state why you want to work for them, give them a glimpse into your skillset, let them know you have done your research about the company and convince them that you are the right fit for the job. Get someone you trust or, better yet, a friend you might know in HR to run a professional eye over your cover letter and résumé. Need more help? Check out SkillsTalk's guide to writing the perfect cover letter.

#2: Get the inside scoop

ice cream cones in stand

Use your networking skills to meet people who have worked for the company or the industry you are interested in. Look up the company online – not just their website but also their business reports, news articles in financial newspapers, etc. and bring yourself up to date on their brand. You need to show the recruiter/interviewer that you have done your homework.

#3: Network, network, network

It’s true what they say – it’s not what you know but who you know that counts. Statistics reveal that over 80% of jobs today are filled through networking. There’s nothing like a good recommendation from friends/colleagues or even a former boss.

Now’s not the time to feel awkward to ask for help from contacts who can refer you to a job or introduce you to a hiring manager. A glowing referral from someone noteworthy in the industry counts for a lot more than a mundane job application.

#4: Quantify your accomplishments

young woman cheering

Don’t just make broad statements in your resume like, “I am well-versed in digital marketing” – it doesn’t have as much of an impact as, “In the last quarter, I increased sales by 20% through targeted paid Facebook advertising.” Give proper examples that can be quantified instead of waffling on.

#5: Polish your resume

Your resume needs to be neat, well formatted, professional and free from smelling pistakes. Don’t be tempted to use different stylised fonts or personal photos – concentrate on the content instead. If your resume is too long or over-the-top, it is sure to go in the ‘Reject’ pile. Also, if you’re in a creative industry such as graphic design, fashion or architecture, you need a portfolio of your work in addition to your resume. Here's how to boost your resume.

#6: Make keywords key

More often than not, especially in larger organisations where each job receives countless applications, résumés are scanned by machines that pick up keywords to check if the candidate’s skills match those mentioned in the job ad. Make sure you include those relevant keywords throughout your cover letter and resume.

#7: Spend more time on LinkedIn…

linkedin logo

…and less on Facebook! Your LinkedIn profile should showcase your professional life through your work history, recommendations and performance. Make sure to update it regularly with course certifications, published papers and projects you’ve worked on. Stay active online, market yourself by highlighting all your accomplishments and start endorsing connections and they are sure to return the favour.

#8: Create a digital footprint

Recruiters should be able to access your portfolio of work, your accomplishments and your accolades easily online. Keep your social media accounts whistle-clean from career-damaging Instagram photos and Facebook posts detailing your Saturday night shenanigans.

#9: Request a meeting

This is relevant for smaller companies and start-ups. If you have a novel idea, a unique solution or a proposition that could shake up the industry you’re interested in, request to meet the relevant person for a coffee where you can explain your concept. It shows initiative and intelligence – which is an unbeatable combination.

#10: Make a great first impression

This counts even at the pre-interview stage when recruiters can easily look up potential candidates online thanks to the digital world we live in. Keep your social media accounts free from anything that would jeopardise your professional profile. And once you’ve got a job interview lined up, make sure you’re punctual, you’re dressed smartly and you have a friendly disposition. Yes, make sure to greet the receptionist warmly!

#11: Prepare for the interview

dark haired woman with glasses smiling in interview

The keyword here is ‘practise’. Do a few mock interviews to check for those annoying habits (saying “like” all the time, twirling your hair, etc.) as well as to gain confidence and check how much you know about the job and interview process. Also have a few pertinent questions ready when you’re asked if you have any questions at the end of the interview. Don’t forget a firm handshake. Need more tips? Check out 8 common interview questions and how to answer them.

#12:Follow up to close the deal

Make it a habit to call up a hiring manager/ recruitment officer before submitting a job application to ask pertinent questions about the role. When you call after an interview for feedback, make sure to thank them, re-iterate your interest and ask any further questions. It shows that you are interested and invested in the job. Make sure you keep the conversation to the point yet friendly to create a lasting impression.

Do you need more skills to get the job?

Upskilled offers over 100 accredited qualifications that you can study at your own pace. Upskilled is passionate about providing the best quality educational experience to its students. Our trainers and facilitators deliver excellence at all levels of service. Search for your perfect online course here.
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