Guest Article: Career Services Advisor Alexandra Stancato on How to Be a Standout Candidate to Future Employers
Each time you apply for a job, you have the chance to be a standout or a star and position yourself as a unique candidate with a string of talents, skills and experiences that fit the role at hand. But most job seekers do not see themselves that way, or don’t know how to position themselves as valuable to potential employers.
As a Career Advisor, I have met with hundreds of students, all with the same question, “I have the diploma, now how do I convince employers that I am right for the job?” And, while there is no one way to land a job, it is key to position yourself as someone who will go above and beyond during your job search, as it shows them that you will have this attitude after they hire you.
Let’s explore several ways to position yourself as a standout candidate, during your job search:
Know the Skills and Attributes That Impress
Some will be written right into the job posting. Others may be in the company’s core values or mission statement. Sometimes they can be identified by reading the company’s social media posts, or a profile of the founder or team members. In any case, knowing the skills and attributes that impress takes research.
Quick Tip: Before you apply, copy and paste the job posting into a word document. Review the document in depth, highlighting every skill, qualification and attribute mentioned. Review the document again and make note of those that repeat. These are the key skills and attributes that impress the employer and must be displayed in your application.
I recommend reading industry newsletters, attending events or conferences, and setting up job alerts on various job boards to help you understand the key responsibilities and selection criteria of the roles that you are interested in. In turn, this will allow you to evaluate the skills that you have, before sending out an application. Remember, if you meet at least 70 per cent of the qualifications, it is worth applying!
Not sure where to start? Begin by learning about careers in your field.
Make Genuine Connections
In the world of work, there is great power in relationships. When you create connections based on shared interests and goals, you’ll be more successful at your job search, because people want to work with people they like. It can be useful to find out if you know someone who is already working for the company you would like to work for, or if someone you know could introduce you. It might be a personal or professional contact, but ideally someone who can vouch for your reputation or ability to perform the role.
If you don’t yet have a connection, get started by setting up informal coffee chats, or informational interviews. Ideally, these are informative, productive conversations that help you learn more about the field you are exploring and may even provide an opportunity down the line.
Remember, if you make a connection, make an effort to stay in touch!
Add a Personal Touch
To make a lasting impression, you must do more than simply ace the interview. It is about conducting yourself in a friendly and professional manner, starting before you apply, up until, and after, you have signed the employment contract.
After the resume’s gone out, it can be worth it to send an email or make a call to promote yourself again. Only 10 per cent of people follow-up after an application, so this action might just convince the hiring manager to give your resume a second look.
In addition, reach out to your potential employer following an interview. This will help you to be the candidate that leaves a great impression. A simple way to do this is to compose a handwritten thank-you note following the interview. It might feel like extra work, but a hand-written note is rare in today’s digital age, which can help you stand out amongst the crowd. If you are in a pinch, a thank you email can work just as well! Before you hit ‘send,’ ask yourself – ‘what key points can I make in my personal message to engage the interviewer further?’
Apply Via Video!
Video resumes and job applications are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. After all, this is a fantastic way to differentiate yourself from other job seekers. With this method, do everything you would do in a typical job application (like sending your resume, filling in your contact information, etc.), but with one added step: a video! Here is how you do it…
Create a 30-90 second video explaining:
- Why the job and/or company caught your interest
- The value you bring to the role, and how you would be able to help the company solve problems
I recommend spending more time on the latter. Make sure to mention skills, past experiences, and accomplishments that will help you succeed in the role you’re applying to.
Not sure where to start? Watch some examples.
The bottom line: You are not going to get noticed when applying for jobs if you are doing the same things as everyone else. While the above may create more work, it is worth it! Employers love someone who demonstrates that they’re willing to go above and beyond, because it shows them that you’ll have this attitude after they hire you.
Ready to get started on your job search? Your TFS Career Advisor can help!