How to Set Yourself Apart Among the Rising Numbers of Candidates

By Lindsay Hoke, Director of Recruitment, JFC Workforce

You’ve applied to numerous job postings online.  You’ve heard back from only a small percentage of those applications; went on just one interview.  You are left wondering, ‘Has the job been filled?’ and ‘Why did they not contact me back?’

With the ease of applying to jobs online as opposed to the old-fashioned paper applications or mailing of a resume, many hiring managers receive exponentially more candidates than they can possibly review.  With numerous candidates, only a brief scanning of the resumes and applications may be possible.  Because we all have a finite amount of time in which to accomplish our daily tasks, hiring managers are only able to choose a small percentage of applicants to be contacted for an interview or further screening.  It is a reality that many good candidates are unknowingly skipped over during this process.

Here’s just a few ways to help you stand out among the crowd.

Make your resume stand out

It is worth the extra time up front to create a well-formatted resume.  This means using easy to read font, reasonable spacing, and making sure that your resume fits nicely onto 1 or 2 pages.  Grammatical and spelling errors are noticed by those reviewing your resume!  Take the time to proofread your resume several times to ensure there are no typos or poor grammar.  Make sure you have both a current phone number and email listed.  If a hiring manager tries to reach out and finds the number has been disconnected or the email is no longer active, your resume will immediately move back to the bottom of the list.  There are many free online resources available if you feel as though you could use some additional assistance creating or updating your resume.

Be prepared to follow-up!

A few days after submitting your resume, it can be very beneficial to call and follow-up.  If you are aware of the hiring manager who your resume was submitted to, be direct and ask for that individual when you call.  If you are not sure of the actual person who received the resume, you can simply call the company’s main number, let them know the specific position you submitted your resume for, and ask them to connect you to the hiring manager or their voicemail.  If you must leave a voicemail, be sure to thank them for their time in reviewing your resume, confirm you are still interested in learning more about the position, and speak clearly when leaving your name and contact information.  By following up in a timely manner, you show the hiring manager that you are still very interested in the opportunity and that you have good communication skills.

Consider the benefits of partnering with a Specialized Recruiter

Many job seekers do not fully realize all of the benefits that can come with this option.  Whereas individual hiring managers at many companies do not have the time to review all resumes submitted, recruiting agencies do. Recruiters review resumes all day, every day, and specialize in screening candidates for the clients they work with.  If you want to ensure that your resume is directly reviewed and considered, a Recruiter will do that for you.  More importantly, Recruiters are working directly with those hiring managers.  Once you have interviewed with and been screened by a Recruiter, your resume can land on the very top of the piles of resumes being considered by hiring managers that are currently inundated with the numerous resumes from their online job ad.  These companies pay for the services that Recruiters provide so that they can review these resumes first, knowing they have previously been screened thoroughly.  Recruiters provide that direct connection to the decision-makers! 

Be a good communicator

In every interaction, whether by phone, email, or in-person, clear and professional communication is critical.  Use professional language and attempt to convey your ideas in a concise manner, avoiding filler words.  Make sure that you speak at an appropriate volume and annunciate clearly, allowing for inflection in your voice to convey your excitement in the position.  If exchanging written correspondence, a friendly greeting or closing is appropriate in conjunction with the clear and concise body of the message.

Prepare for your interview

Before any interview, do your research.  Look up the company including their products and services offered as well as the mission of the organization.  Understand the position you will be interviewing for as best you can by thoroughly reviewing the job description.  Prepare a few professional questions that you still have to ask during the interview.  If going to an in-person interview, do a practice drive ahead of time so you know where you are going.  Leave early on the day of the interview to account for any traffic or other possible reasons for delay.  If you have a phone or video interview, get set up at least 15 minutes early to ensure there are no connection issues. 

Always take time to be thankful!

Any time that a hiring manager takes the time to have a conversation with you about the position, express your gratitude.  End every conversation by voicing your appreciation for the information they may have provided, the time they took to converse with you, and for their consideration of your candidacy.  One of the biggest things today that will make you stand out is a thank you letter following an interview.  While this is not a new suggestion, it is something that has become more and more rare in current times.  The time you invest to construct a well-written thank you email or letter will certainly make a positive impression!