6th May 2021
From preparing for interviews and trying to give the best impression, to rejection letters and (in some cases) not hearing back at all, job hunting can be one of the most stressful things you have to do.
Impressing a potential new employer is the most important part of any application or interview process. Yet, whether you’re a seasoned interviewee or are new to the working world, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to do to make yourself stand out from the competition.
What employers hope to find in candidates can widely vary from job to job (especially where industries require specific experience, qualifications and attributes). However, the basic principles of what is sought after in a new employee are generally seen across the board.
Tips to Remember When Applying for a Job
It‘s essential to know that while your job application may look great on paper, not everyone is going to love you just by what’s written on your CV. Companies will not only be looking for the right skills and experience in candidates, but also for cultural fit and other qualities and traits; so how do you make yourself appealing to employers?
If you are looking for ways to impress a potential employer or are trying to make your job application stand out from the crowd, we’ve got you covered with some great tips to get you ahead of the game.
Only Apply for the Job if you Qualify
When there is a large quantity of applications to get through, employers don’t tend to make a habit of spending more time than necessary deciding whether to consider an application if the candidate isn’t obviously qualified for the role.
On average, each application or CV gets an initial thirty seconds ‘review time’ before they are sorted into a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ pile. So, if you don’t have the required experience or qualifications stated in the job ad, your application is likely to find its way into the ‘no’ pile without a word from the employer to let you know you were unsuccessful.
NB: If you wish to apply for a job in a field that you aspire to get into, give yourself the best chance possible by doing some research of the role and take up any courses or resources to better your suitability for the job. If you can explain why you should still be considered for the position without having the required qualifications or experience, you may still be in with a chance of meeting the interviewer in person.
Address your Cover Letter to the Person Conducting the Interviews
I cannot stress enough how important it is to include a cover letter with your CV or application. Not only does this give you more opportunity to further detail how your skill set and experience aligns with the role, but reading a cover letter allows the employer to develop a better understanding of your suitability to the position.
When writing your cover letter, be sure to address it to the person conducting the interviews (if known). Keep it formal – don’t presume familiarity and use the person’s first name straight off the bat. Instead, use the employer’s surname, for example ‘Dear Ms. Smith’, until they know you.
Aside from addressing the cover letter to the relevant person, you should be sure to:
- Include the position you are applying for.
- Include your availability for any telephone or in-person interviews.
- Make the cover letter presentable, i.e. well-structured and in a professional size/font.
- Keep an eye out for your spelling and grammar. These are noted by employers, especially if you have stated that you do, in fact, have a good eye for detail.
Customise your CV to the Job Description
One big question you must ask yourself when applying for a position is – what makes you stand out from the other tens or hundreds of applications?
You need to make sure that your CV is to the point, but covers everything that the interviewer should know about you. Start with an accomplishment summary including key achievements, then follow up with a list of jobs, titles, companies and responsibilities in chronological order. If you are still in some form of education, or have recently graduated, lead with your education and degree information. As a seasoned worker, you should follow up your accomplishments with any specific experience or certification you have, followed by jobs and education.
Remember, only include what is relevant. Employers don’t have the time to read through multiple generic applications. Cut to the chase and tailor your CV to the company and the position you are applying for.
Never Follow Up on your Application
Fishing for attention is never a good idea. If the employer has received your application and wants to speak with you, they will contact you in their own time.
The only thing you are likely to achieve by following up to enquire about the status of an application is annoying the HR department in charge of managing the applications – and you don’t want to put a black mark against your name before you’ve even gotten your foot in the door.
Create a Professional Social Media Presence
Your social media presence forms just as much of a first impression as your CV or cover letter, so it’s important that you keep your professional LinkedIn profile up-to-date, as well as keeping your personal social media platforms clean.
Social media is a great place to make professional connections and can also help create a presence for you and establish your expertise in your domain. Keeping your social media profiles up-to-date will also enable employers to ascertain your cultural fitment for the company. Most recruiters may peruse your social media accounts to gain some insights into your personality, so ensure that your social profiles are appropriate for business and have something exciting to tell about you.
Make Yourself Available
Your availability (or lack of) to an employer for phone screenings or interviews will give them the first insight to your reliability.
Make sure that you provide the best, most direct method of contact and let them know if there are times when you won’t be available to speak to them so they do not waste their time trying to contact you inside these hours.
Some employers prefer to conduct phone screenings before offering interviews, so be prepared in case you are asked to set up a call with the hiring manager.
Typically, this will involve a mini-interview to give the employer a better understanding of your suitability, so it’s also likely that you’ll be asked about your salary expectations at this stage. If you are, be honest. The employer will want to know whether it’s worth their time considering you if your expectations are higher than they are willing or able to go.
If you are successful in the screening phase of the process and are invited to a face-to-face (or video, thanks to COVID) interview, do your homework. Research the company in advance by visiting their website to understand what they do and what their culture is like. Taking even just a few minutes to look into the company will boost your chances of impressing the hiring manager.
Don’t Ask About What You Should Already Know
Employers will expect candidates to have done their homework before turning up to an interview. In other words, never ask questions regarding information that can already be found on the company’s website, or from a general online search.
Instead, make a point of asking key questions that will help you understand if you would like to work for the company or about the kind of policies and culture of the organisation.
Present yourself Professionally
You would like to think that this one goes without saying. However, I have seen plenty of people who have been stricken from the record regardless of their suitability just for turning up in jeans.
While you might have read on the company’s website that they have a laid back, casual dress policy, that doesn’t mean you should rock up to an interview in your brand-new Adidas trainers.
Treat the employer with respect by showing up looking smart and presentable. You should take the time to show that you care enough to put in the effort.
Furthermore, treat every person you encounter with dignity and respect. Be unfalteringly polite throughout every interaction you have within the company, because you can bet that each person you come into contact with is assessing your potential fit within the team.
Follow Up After the Interview
Whether you think you aced the interview or not, it’s good practice (and good manners!) to follow up with a thank you letter or email after meeting with an employer. If you’ve already made a good impression on them, then by thanking them for their time and consideration will only boost your chances more.
Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Care Team to provide our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software and is responsible for our day-to-day marketing activities and strategies.