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How to make your job application stand out
As you would expect in the current economic climate, we’re witnessing a significant rise in the number of applications for each job advertisement we post.
There are a few reasons for increased application numbers – firstly, the number of jobseekers on the market has grown, and secondly, applying for jobs has become a very simple process.
This means that it’s become much harder for job applicants to cut through the noise and get noticed by a recruiter or hiring manager. Meanwhile, those on the receiving end of the applications are implementing new systems and processes to avoid missing out on that one great candidate.
So, how do you make your application stand out from the crowd?
Tailor your application
This first tip is maybe the hardest and as a result the most ignored. To get noticed, you have to make your application relevant to the role you’re applying for.
Generic cover letters and CVs that do not highlight the required skillset will be quickly overlooked, and yet we see a lot of cut and paste jobs. It’s understandable – applying for jobs is difficult and time consuming. But it’s crucial to tailor your resume to the role to make your application leap out, show that you’ve done your homework and that you’ve researched the company and the role.
Make your application readable
Imagine you’re hit with 100+ cover letters and resumes to sift through to find the right person for the job. With that kind of volume, applications that are clearly laid out using fonts, sizing and paragraph breaks, are most likely to get noticed.
The bottom line: don’t make it difficult to decipher your application. If it’s not succinct and logical, it may well end up on the reject pile.
Make your application findable
One of the best ways you can make your application stand out is to make it more findable. That involves using specific keywords for skills that recruiters or hiring managers might be looking for in your resume and cover letter. That way, if search tools are being used to search a database for a potential candidate, yours will show up in the search results.
Make sure there are no errors
Hiring managers aren’t very forgiving when it comes to spelling mistakes. In fact, just one or two errors or typos in your application could mean that your application is rejected entirely.
It’s hard to come back from this kind of error – particularly if ‘attention to detail’ is a requirement of the job – so don’t hamstring yourself with a lazy mistake before you can make a good impression.
RELATED: How to write the perfect resume
Be results focused
Hiring managers are looking for someone who can get the job done and deliver results. Show that you are that person by using statistics (“increased sales by X%) or action words (“steered transformation project”) to demonstrate the results you can achieve and what kind of soft skills you have that will benefit their team and organisation.
If you are genuinely suitable for a role (i.e. you have proven experience in the majority of the required criteria), a follow-up phone call to the relevant recruiter or decision maker within an organisation can go a long way to support your application.
Make sure you’re not a serial caller on every job application – your follow up needs to be relevant – but if you’re sure that you’re a good contender for the role and have not heard anything for a number of days since you applied (or after the application closing date), check in with a polite call.
First, confirm that your CV has been received, and then be ready to explain in a succinct manner why you believe you are the right person for the role. This follow-up not only highlights your CV in what may be a cluttered inbox, but it also shows that you have genuine passion for the position. This sets you apart from the applicants who are applying for anything and everything.
If you don’t take the time to follow up your application then there is every chance you will receive a generic “thanks but no thanks” response. By putting in that little bit of extra effort and demonstrating that you are truly interested in this specific role, you’ll give yourself a better chance of success.
For more advice on how to optimise your job application, check out our resume advice hub.
- Tailor your application specifically to the role you are applying for
- Follow up with a call to the recruiter or decision maker for roles you think you're particularly suitable for