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How to stand out in a crowded job market

How to stand out in a crowded job market

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Getting noticed can be key to success when you’re applying for a job – and in a crowded job market, working out how to make yourself stand out can be a challenge.

But whether it’s on paper or in the interview, there are ways to differentiate yourself and show employers just what you can bring to the role.

Here are tips to help you get noticed in the job market.

Tip 1: Find your unique selling point. When you’re applying for a job, a unique selling point is about what you could bring to the role, and what makes you the best person for the job over anyone else. Recruitment expert Jason Walker recommends that job seekers highlight one or two unique selling points to differentiate themselves. “For example, were you one of the highest achievers in your university degree?” Walker says. “Have you improved customer retention levels, or led a project successfully?” Thinking about your skills or experience can be a good way to work out a unique selling point.

Tip 2: Highlight leadership. Recruiters and employers are often impressed by leadership skills. Even if you’ve never had a management position, you’ve probably got leadership experiences tucked away, such as running a team project. Make note of this in your application.

Tip 3: Have relevant examples. Having examples to back up your skills and experience will take them that much further. Explaining that you used your leadership skills to manage a team of five people for a six-month project will make more of an impression than simply saying you have strong leadership skills. Mentioning numbers can also be a good way to reinforce your skills and experience, Walker says. For example, if you increased sales by 5% or saved $10,000 from a budget by doing things differently. It might even be that you run a monthly two-hour planning meeting for a team of 12 people – numbers can make a difference no matter what your work has involved. Include examples in your resume or cover letter, and practice talking about them so you can bring them up in an interview.

Tip 4: Summarise your experience. Include a personal summary at the top of your resume. It’s a short statement, ideally three or four sentences, that sums up who you are, why you’re ideal for the role and what you’re aiming for in your career right now. It’s best to include specific experience relevant to the role you’re applying for, Walker says. “Consider using words from the job description or posting so that applicant tracking systems (ATS) can recognise them and make a match.” This article has some more tips on how to sell yourself in 25 words or less.

Tip 5: Update your SEEK Profile. Recruiters and employers often look at job seekers’ online profiles. The more you put into your SEEK Profile the more chance you give yourself to get noticed by the right employers.

Tip 6: Answer questions directly. If you’re in an interview, rather than making your answers general, try to pinpoint situations that relate to the question and explain what the outcome was. For example, rather than talking about your organisational skills in general, you might talk about how in a previous job you used your organisational skills to implement a new system or way of doing things that resulted in your team saving time. “Answer questions directly and thoroughly as well as giving anecdotes about your career history, past actions and results,” Walker says. Directly relating these experiences to the job description can also help.

Tip 7: Ask insightful questions. An interview is also an important opportunity to  ask questions of your own. What you ask can help you to stand out by showing that you’re genuinely interested and that you’ve done some background research on the role. If you need some ideas, try asking ‘what skills and attributes do successful people at your company usually have?’ Walker says a useful tactic at the end of the interview is to ask, ‘how do you think I match up with this position?’ This article has more ideas on questions to ask your interviewer.

Recruitment group Hays asked more than 100 employers to list what catches their attention in a job interview. Here are some of the things they mentioned:

  1. Show confidence and a positive attitude
  2. Have great communication and presentation skills
  3. Use real-life examples to demonstrate answers
  4. Be enthusiastic about the role
  5. Communicate the benefits you can bring to the business
  6. Prepare questions in advance to ask the interviewer
  7. Display a good understanding of the role
  8. Be an active listener

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