Differentiate Yourself From Other Candidates
I once heard a recruiter say, he would rather have a driven student over a talented one, any day. An employer can teach necessary skills, but cannot instill determination in someone to do their best. In most cases, employers want to feel that applicants have a genuine interest in the position and the company. Additionally, they don’t want someone who is only looking for a quick paycheck. During the recruiting process, employers will look for someone who proves to be interested in becoming an invested part of their team. So, how do you make that happen in the first impression? Show your interest in the company and the position, and do it with a smile. Sometimes, that’s all you need to differentiate yourself from other candidates.
Personalize Your Message
To begin, let the employer know that you are interested by tailoring your cover letter and resume specifically for them. This will help you differentiate yourself. Employers do not want to see the generic information. As we mentioned, this may mean doing some research to look beyond the information provided in the job posting. Tailoring may be as simple as re-ordering your bullet points within each section. You want to provide only information that is relevant to the position you are applying for.
If you have been in the workforce for a while, you probably have had several previous jobs. However, employers only want to know the most recent, and most applicable. Therefore, it is essential to pick and choose what you place on your resume and cover letter.
Build Your Resume
Years ago I worked at a small start-up advertising agency. We began with the Owner, a Graphic Artist, and myself. We all had our own roles in the company. The Owner handled acquiring clients, and all the legal needs. The Graphic Artist created artwork. And me, well I did everything else.
My main priority was looking after the clients. Assessing needs, writing ad copy, media buying and administrative duties were all part of my job description. I did it all! However, I knew that when I went to change jobs, I would have to alter my resume unless I wanted to end up in the same situation again. I had to differentiate myself. Of course, my immediate thought was to focus on my accomplishments. I felt that was the best way to position myself on my resume.
Resume: Draft #1
“Played a pivotal role in the growth of Ross Advertising from 3 people in our first year to a staff of 12 and over $5 million in our 5th year when we were acquired by the largest recruitment advertising agency in the world“
Sounds pretty legit, right? Although the statement was rather long, it did get me interviews. Unfortunately, not for the type of roles I was looking for. I quickly realized that using this summary would only land me sales roles. What company wouldn’t want to grow their business by 5 million dollars in 5 years? So – back to the drawing board.
I decided to take a different approach to the same idea. Instead of using accomplishments and numbers, I would focus on my transferable skills of relationships and communication. These were qualities beneficial for any job. I still use this blurb below on my resume, today.
Resume: Draft #2
“Positioned over 150 clients as employers of choice, addressing recruitment and retention issues with multi-faceted advertising and communication strategies “
See how I did that? There are many ways to position the same experience. You must think about how an employer will view what you have to say. Especially, on resumes and cover letters. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!
So, you’ve applied for a job. You can demonstrate greater interest in the opportunity by following-up on the application. Instead of waiting for them to call you, call them first. As long as the posting doesn’t say no phone calls, employers will welcome a follow-up call. It can be an excellent way to differentiate yourself and give you an edge over the competition. You don’t just want to ask if they received your resume/application. While on the phone, be sure to ask meaningful questions such as “When do you anticipate scheduling interviews?” or “How will you be contacting those you wish to interview – by phone or email?
Differentiate Yourself In An Interview
Want to let the employer know you are truly interested? Have a few thoughtful questions prepared that you can ask during the interview. Of course, you will want to make sure your questions are unique. You should aim to learn something you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. For example, you wouldn’t ask something that could easily be learned from their website such as their hours of operation.
If they were to offer you the job then and there, other than compensation, what else do you need to know to make a decision? It is essential to use this time to gain any knowledge you feel you need to be fully informed. Moreover, it shows enthusiasm in the position.
Have a few questions written down. Don’t limit yourself to just one! By having a variety of personalized questions, you seem genuinely intrigued. This is a fantastic way to differentiate yourself during an interview. However, we remind you to read your audience. Sometimes it’s best to keep things strictly professional. On the other hand, if you feel comfortable you can always try and ask a question personal to the interviewer. Try this one out, it’s a fun way to find out the not-so-nice aspects of the position:
“If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your job?”
Or, to keep things professional:
“I got the impression from your website that the company is very focused on giving back to the community. Also, helping employees have work-life balance is important. Would you say that is true or something that you are working towards?”
Differentiate Yourself From The Competition
The better the job, the fiercer the competition. With any good job posting, there will be many potential candidates. Therefore, differentiating yourself is extremely important. You want to stand out. So, what can you do? First of all, make sure your resume and cover letter are modern yet professional. Secondly, you want to dress the part. While attending interviews be sure to dress professionally. Anything you can do to stand out, in a good way, will help you in the long-run.
You’ve made it through the application, and the interview. There are a few more things you should add to your list. Do you have a calling card? If you answered NO, then why not? Using a calling card is an exceptional marketing tool. It lets people know who you are, and how to contact you. After each interview, leave your card with the employer. It makes you more memorable and they will be prepared if they need to be in touch.
Last but not least, always remember to send a thank you email. This step should be done within 24-48 hours after your interview. Again, this adds to your commitment while showing genuine interest. Overall, this may seem like a lot of information – but you’ve got this! Just smile, and remember to be yourself. In the end, you may just land yourself your dream job.