Updated: Jun 1, 2020
I often get asked what makes a candidate stand out to you when you are recruiting. Now, the answer depends upon the situation and the role, however there are some things that instantly ensure you won’t be getting that interview and this starts with your application. It never ceases to amaze me the number of candidates who apply for roles that they have absolutely no experience for.
Tip 1 – Read the job advert
You may be desperate to work for the company and any role will do, so you apply for everything that is advertised on their website. Do not be tempted to do this, most companies have an online system that gives every recruiter the option to see every role that the candidate has applied for. I’m not joking when I say I have seen the same candidate apply for everything for a Customer Service role through to a Brand Director role and everything in between.
As a recruiter this is irritating, it also says that the candidate hasn’t thought about what they want to do, what they are good at and what direction they want their career to follow. If you really want to work for a business and your skills and experience don’t obviously tick all of the boxes in any advertised vacancy, think about what it is you can offer them and then be creative with your approach, if you really don’t have anything to offer that particular business, maybe attending a course or doing some voluntary work that is relevant to their business may make you more attractive to them.
However, if you have the relevant skills and experience, make sure that you highlight this in your application, make it obvious why you are the right person to at least be invited to attend an interview for the role and always remember there may well be hundreds of candidates that have applied for that particular role, the recruiter needs to shortlist them based on their relevant skills and experience, make this easy for them, review the job advert and highlight your most recent, relevant experience on your application form or your CV.
Tip 2 – The Cover Letter
With technology today often there isn’t the requirement to write a cover letter, however, if there is an option to attach one, do so, just make sure that it’s short and to the point, a whole page of A4 listing everything from your education, to your hobbies is not going to keep that recruiter engaged in reading your CV. Not writing anything indicates you probably can’t be bothered and that’s not a good sign either. A short, concise paragraph saying why you are interested in the company, the role and the industry and your top three highlights that you think you can offer to support your application is enough.
Tip 3 – Your CV
Most application systems offer you the opportunity to upload your CV as well as filling in the application form. It is normally a good idea to do so, or not, dependent upon how your CV is written. If it’s structured well it can tell a recruiter a lot about your style of working, your personality along with basic things such as your attention to detail, accuracy, creativity, the list is endless. However, without spending too much time focussing on the CV, at the very least you need to make sure it is concise, accurate, highlights your most relevant experience and achievements and is not 10 pages long! There are so many rules out there about only having a CV that is only up to two pages, however, for many people that’s not realistic, but whatever you do, don’t make it any more than 4 pages max. The style of your CV really depends on the industry you are looking to work in and what is going to make it stand out for the right reasons, this is something that we can work with you on if you decide that you need some help.
Tip 4 – Your Social Media Profiles
Now I am aware that this is going to be contentious. To most people (me included) I like to think my ‘social’ life should have no impact on my professional life. However, whether we like it or not what we put out there on social media platforms can have an impact on the impression that is given to people. Not all employers check social media platforms when considering applicants for a role, however, many of them do and if you’re profiles show you falling over drunk every weekend in various stages of undress this is not going to communicate that you are responsible and have good judgement. Think about what you are putting out there and if your profiles are public make sure you are communicating what you want people to know about you or just set everything to private.
Tip 5 – Linked In
Linked in has long been a site that recruiters both Agency and In-House use to make contacts with candidates that they think may have the relevant skills and background for roles they are recruiting for. Even if you are not actively looking for a role you should ensure that your Linked In profile is up to date and showcases your professional skills. Aside from recruitment Linked In can be used to get your business referrals and create opportunities to showcase your knowledge within your industry. A poor Linked In profile shows a lack of interest and suggests that you are just ‘dipping’ in to see what it’s about and then can’t be bothered to complete your profile, not what you want to be communicating to anyone.
For further advice on any of the above contact InStyle for an initial, no obligation discussion.