Short of sending in CVs etched in gold leaf, what can you do to make your job application stand out from the crowd? Here are our top eight standout tips:
1. If you’re aiming for a creative job (design, website design, PR or advertising etc.), why not set up a website to show examples of your work? Or attach case studies to your CV? You could even make an online CV. What about creating a Facebook CV if you’re applying for a social networking marketing job?
2. We hate to break it to you, but you have to embrace social media. Spend as much time on your LinkedIn profile as your CV and use Twitter, Facebook and AllAboutCareers to follow companies and recruiters. Increasingly, employers are directly sourcing employees from the web, so you need to work on your social media presence.
3. Really, it all comes down to your CV and covering letter. Ditch any clichéd wording or corporate speak, keep it concise and interesting. Short and snappy sentences are the key to success. The covering letter should be a beacon of your personality, but it should also be professional and formal. You could even (whisper it) break a few general CV and covering letter rules, like using different headings or sections. However, it still has to be readable and accurate.
4. Research, research and research. Don’t just look at the ‘About Us’ section on the company’s website; use other sources, such as newspaper articles and employee profiles on LinkedIn. Think about what it really is that attracts you to the company.
5. Imagine yourself doing the job. What would you bring to it? And what would you change about the company? Obviously don’t come to the interview armed with criticisms, but have an awareness of the company’s strengths and weaknesses and what you can do for them.
6. Always, always be aware that eventually your application might be read by a person. No matter how impersonal online applications look, imagine that it’ll be read by human eyes. Job applications that are successful really take into account what the company/person receiving it is looking for and (whilst hitting certain keywords) offer them something different from the stacks of CVs they have already trawled through.
7. What you do in your extra time counts. Get involved in your target industry in your free time and show an interest in your sector beyond wanting a job. Set up your own blog and include a link to it in your CV.
8. Make it relevant! We can’t stress this enough and if it means nagging, we will. You should tailor your CV and covering letter for every (and we mean every) job application, striking out anything that is not relevant with a proverbial red pen (or the delete button on your computer).