Nail the Interview

8 Things That Differentiate You From Other Candidates

What makes an employer choose you over another candidate, especially when you both have the same skills? A lot of candidates find it stressful to compete for a role without quite knowing what their competition is like. Similarly, being able to catch a glimpse of another applicant, through their LinkedIn profile or in the waiting room can be equally destabilizing. It opens the door to comparison based on the level of information you can access, namely their appearance or the background data that is visible on a stranger’s profile online.



In other words, you are wasting your time comparing yourself to people you don’t know. Additionally, it’s the kind of behavior that is likely to make you nervous before an interview. It’s in your best interest to pay as little attention as you can to other candidates, especially when you don’t know all the facts.

Nevertheless, there is one person who knows all the facts and who will use them to compare you against others, namely the employer. How many applicants wish they could receive a heads up about an employer and their company? Research can only get you so far. However, don’t think you have no way of making your application stand out. You can, even without gaining privileged knowledge, use differentiation to your advantage. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Differentiate

Be a different kind of candidate

#1. You can show you have the experience

There is no denying that the way you present your experience on your resume matters. That’s precisely why recruiters recommend tailoring your resume to the job you’re applying for. Indeed, too many candidates have the necessary experience, but fail to display it clearly on the resume. Admittedly, recruiters and hiring managers know what you did when they read through your work history – the job title sums it up adequately. But you can help them to see you are a suitable candidate by demonstrating you’ve got the best experience for the role.

“With the sheer volume of job seekers on the prowl, it can be hard to get an employer’s attention. Most companies today use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to scan resumes and weed out irrelevant candidates. The systems use keywords and phrases that describe the required skills, education and experience to place the most qualified resumes at the top of the list. So, how do you make it past the gatekeeping technology? Pay close attention to the employer’s or recruiter’s instructions for submitting your resume on each posting. ” – Careerbuilder.com

Your experience is the combination of your professional duties, responsibilities, and achievements. To put it clearly, what recruiters want is not to see what kind of work you did. They’re interested in all well you managed it. For a start, if you’re applying for a junior or mid-level position, you should include detailed descriptions of the relevant positions and make a brief mention to other positions in your career. You can list the most pertinent achievements using keywords that match the job description, such as a waitress applying for a customer service job listing her experience in delivering a positive service and managing issues for customers.

#2. You have the degree

Too many candidates apply to positions which require a degree in further education. While there is no discussion that a recruiter will first consider whether you have the appropriate degree, it doesn’t mean that these roles are off-limits if you have not pursued your academic education before entering the work market. It is never too late to prepare for a managerial position with an MBA course, for instance. Indeed, you will find plenty of reputable and high-quality online universities that provide just the right level of follow-up you need to manage your career and your studies at the same time.

You can also earn your degree faster than on-campus students through specialist study models. In other words, if you’re looking for career progression, it can be advantageous to take the time to add new academic qualifications to your resume. Demonstrating that you’ve got the right degree and that it’s a recent achievement can tip the scales in your favor.

#3. You write a personal cover letter

Cover letters might sound like that last thing you want to produce, especially in an age when all it takes to apply for a job is a few clicks. Nevertheless, when most candidates share a common background, your cover letter can make the difference between another resume in the pile and a promising candidate. Your cover letter is necessary; it is designed to catch the attention of a recruiter. In fact, a clear cover letter can help you to convey your brand and value proposition, which can potentially put you in the top 2% of applicants. As many candidates create a perfunctory cover letter that serves as a preamble to the resume, you can use it as a tool to make your first impression. You have between 250 and 400 words at your disposal to introduce yourself.

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Use the cover letter to show that you’ve done your research about the company and the hiring manager; it is proof of your interest. Finally, make sure to use the letter as an incentive to check your resume.

#4. You’re going the extra mile to share relevant material

For mid-level to high-level positions, you can maximize your chances by giving a little extra to the recruiter. Take a look at Airbnb Nina who was so keen to work for her favorite holiday rental company that she created a tailored website to get their attention. At the time Nina got in touch, Airbnb didn’t have a job opening to suit her skills. But she decided to be proactive and produce research material that could prove useful for the expansion strategy of the company. Her efforts got her noticed, by Airbnb and many others. In the end, Nina didn’t get the job with the tourism company, but she landed an exciting position with a company that needed her data-driven analysis, Upwork.

Photo by Lost Co on Unsplash

#5. Your LinkedIn profile is trustworthy

The first thing a recruiter checks when they receive your resume is your LinkedIn profile. You need to ensure that your profile is up-to-date and mirror the information you’ve provided in your application. You can be sure that candidates who embellish their resumes get rapidly busted on LinkedIn. Needless to say, you should pick a tasteful and friendly profile picture, without being too unprofessional. But a recruiter will also be impressed by your endorsements. Indeed, you can boost your endorsement score, directly by asking your contacts to endorse you – be sure to promise to do the same for them.

#6. You have volunteering experience

While volunteering experience might not be a game changer at first, it can make the difference between equally attractive candidates. Indeed, volunteering gives you the opportunity to learn new skills and to show dedication and motivation that isn’t money-oriented. This is the perfect platform to demonstrate transferable skills to a potential employer.

#7. You speak a foreign language

It’s fair to say that unless a job requires you to speak a foreign language on a daily basis, most candidates assume that their linguistic skills are irrelevant. In reality, while the position you apply for might not have a need for your language skills, the business strategy might rely on your abilities for future growth.

Speaking Chinese, Spanish or Arabic can be a substantial differentiating factor. Indeed, with 1.2 billion native Chinese speakers in the world, no business can ignore the importance of the language in trade agreements. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the US. Arabic gives you access to the Middle East market.

#8. Don’t rock the interview, run it

Last, but not least, you can use the interview to demonstrate your enthusiasm. Aside from researching the company, you should be preparing questions. Ultimately, a recruiter is looking for someone who is so excited about the role that they are asking most of the questions. Asking about the department growth strategy or how to make a difference in the job may not provide you with clear answers, but it will indicate you care about the position.

The secret to land a dream job is to get noticed by the recruiter at every stage of the process. Your resume and cover letter need to be pushed on top of the pile from the moment an employer reads them. And you should use the interview time to showcase your interest as well as your skills.

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