How to be a STAND OUT Candidate in a Cluttered Market

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Take it from me as a recruiter who works in the volume space a significant amount of time (I see 500+ CVs each month) that in order to cut through the clutter and the volume of applications a job board advert receives you as a candidate need to stand out if you want to get noticed.  I always grin when I see recruiters on social media talking about how long they look at a CV or application for (it varies from 2 seconds to about 30 seconds). Me personally – I take between 6 – 10 seconds maximum before I either decided to read on or move on.  As a candidate you only have a set amount of time to make a vital first impression and grab that recruiter or hiring managers attention!

My top pet peeves:

  •  A generic cover letter or a stock one downloaded off the internet. If you can’t be bothered or don’t have the time – don’t attach one.
  •  CVs that are too crowded or where a candidate has tried to be “edgy” and “designy” but the layout is shot.
  •  CVs that are in reverse chronological order. Start with your most recent role first – I actually don’t need to know you part time waitressed 15 years ago for 4 weeks (seriously).
  •  No dates or minimal information on your CV.

To stand out here is a few gems of advice:

  •  If you are an active candidate make sure you are regularly checking job boards, forums and networking to discover opportunities. The early bird does catch the worm when it comes to jobs.
  •  Update your CV to be current. This includes your contact details. If you are tailoring it to a certain position (highly recommended) then adjust it each time – don’t forget!
  •  Layout your CV well – use white space and don’t over clutter your CV.
  •  Write a personal summary and make your application become a person, not a just a CV. Reminder – keep it job focused here. A recruiter doesn’t need to know you love cats, have 15 and their names, nor that you are a pen collector with a passion for train sets in your attic. However if you have travelled, made some major achievement in life or have something of note – add it in here.
  • Follow up your application if closing date is over a week – a simple email will suffice.
  •  Try to connect with the recruiter or hiring manager on LinkedIn. Send them a quick note in your invite – “looking forward to hearing from you” etc).
  •  Review the job advert – does it ask for anything specific in your application? A specific cover letter? A task? If so, do it and make sure you attach it!

While every recruiter will be different, and I am sure there will be others who have things to add – if you’re looking to work where I work then take note!

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