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Standing out: How to make the most of every job application

Hiring managers are experts at passing judgment, they know exactly what they are looking for and are more than likely to set the bar a little too high with their standards. To that end, you need to ensure that when they see your CV/job application you have done your best to not blend in with the crowd.

Of course you won’t be able to please everyone and sometimes you may just not have the skills that they are looking for but you only have one task with your CV and that is to make it clear as day that:

  1. You are a good fit for the role
  2. What value and experience you can bring to the organisation

This starts from doing your research on the role and the company. Do your own due diligence by looking into the employees who work there and cross-reference your skills against theirs BEFORE they joined that company – this gives you an understanding of the skills/experience you need to be successful if you were to join them. In a job description, companies tend to list all the skills/tools which they will be working with and not what you have to have experience with.

You then need to do some investigation into the company itself.

Where have they come from? Where do they want to go?

Do you have experience of where they want to go etc? This could give you a strategic advantage.

As mentioned above, you need to think you can bring something tangible to them as a company. After doing your research, list relevant experiences you have in those areas. For example if they are wanting to do a migration from AWS to Azure, list any experience you have in a cloud migration even if it was Azure to Google Cloud. It is all about making yourself seem as valuable as possible.

Again, consider previous projects you have worked on – are any of them relevant? If they are, list them and create an interesting way of explaining your involvement in a short paragraph.

For this approach to be successful you have to consider quality over quantity and you have to be committed to tailoring your CV to each company and every job role. It is always handy having a master document of all of these skills and experiences which you have – do not worry about the word count or page total.

When the time comes for you to actually apply for a role, create a smaller, tailored CV relevant to your application.

The personalised elements you put into your CVs aren’t limited to the skills the job description wants. It extends to the voice, the tone and the language the company uses. ‘Mirroring’ is a basic psychological principle, and it gives the impression that you are already “one of them” gaining you instant buy in from your prospective new employer.

Now you may be thinking, “what if I do all of this and I still get ignored?” It is absolutely rational to think it will happen and it still most likely will but follow these steps and it will certainly be less often. A great way to reduce that risk is by getting in touch with the hiring manager directly, whether that be over email or LinkedIn, and bring your application to their attention.

Guess what, more personalisation is required here. Take an interest the individual and include your similarities in your message:

  1. Did you go to the same school?
  2. Have you worked in the same city/building as them before?
  3. Any similar interests outside of the workplace?

Find the common ground and highlight it, set a great first impression. This little technique indicates that you are prepared to go the extra mile and that you have initiative. They will remember your name and when they come across your CV be more likely to give your CV the consideration it deserves.

Following these steps will put you in a strong position to land more interviews and secure your next job, give them a try and let us know how you get on!