The hard truth is that it’s not easy to be out there looking for a job right now. Because of COVID-19 and a global recession, competition is high, and there are dozens or even hundreds of applicants for each available role. This doesn’t mean that all hope is lost - it just means that as a job seeker, you have focus on crafting a solid application, then take care of the details that will get you noticed. Start with these 8 tips to help you stand out from the crowd during the hiring process.

1. Let your cover letter do the talking

Writing a cover letter can be one of the most challenging parts of starting your job search. You may wonder how long it should be, what to include and how to toe the line between grabbing the hiring manager’s attention and being too informal.

Instead of feeling intimidated, see the cover letter as an opportunity to highlight skills, experience and education that pertain to the job and to show your personality before any interviews take place. Avoid simply repeating information that is covered in your CV and add details and information that further explain your skills and capabilities. Make each cover letter a unique chance to sell your skillset and pitch your suitability for the job.

2. Highlight the right experience and knowledge

The best action to take before applying for any job is to read the job description several times to really understand what the employer is looking for. Companies have specific needs that they are attempting to address with each new hire. Then, tailor your CV in a way that makes your experience and skills stand out.

Use the same language as in the job description to explain previous roles, education and training. By doing this, you ensure that your skills jump out at the hiring manager who will have to review dozens of CVs in a stack. Addressing their pain points will surely make you stand out amongst the competition.

3. Prepare for the interview

Always remember the importance of preparation for an interview. While you won’t know exactly what will be asked, you can rehearse your answer to commonly asked interview questions. Research the company, and don’t forget seemingly smaller details such as what you should wear to fit into the company culture and what time you need to leave to reach the interview on time.

With the increase of virtual interviews, this preparation is even more important. Check your internet connection, get your setup right and try to think of ways to take the interview to the next level. Richa Doyle, Associate Director at Page Personnel Singapore advises looking for ways to show and tell. “The digitalization of interviews has arrived and during this period, you can stand out by ensuring the employer is getting a personalised view of who you are. Prepare clear, concise visuals where appropriate, and be ready to share your screen to make the interview a little more interactive.”

4. Follow up effectively

The follow up after sending a CV or after an interview can be a crucial step in moving forward. It’s a little nudge to the hiring manager that helps you stand out among a high volume of applicants. The key is to do it right. There are several ways to follow up: a phone call, a follow up email, or a message on LinkedIn.

Email is usually the most effective, as it doesn’t feel too disruptive, and allows the hiring manager to open your message on their time. In the follow up, ensure that you are concise while presenting a quick summary of why you would be a great fit, reinforcing your interest in the role and the company.

5. Use your connections

One way to stand out among other candidates is to use your network to find connections to the company. A recommendation from the inside can go far in ensuring your CV moves towards the top of the shortlist. However, ensure you go about asking for the recommendations in the right way - you should have a genuine relationship with the person and know you are in good standing with them.

6. Show your agility and flexibility

As companies look to hire professionals that will help them with business recovery, showing flexibility to go above and beyond will be key to getting the job.

Doyle says, “In a time where everything is changing and evolving, employers are not seeking employees who are only willing to do what’s within their job scope. Showcase your flexibility as much as possible, sharing scenarios where you’ve had to adapt to changes quickly and effectively.”

7. Set up a website, portfolio or blog to showcase your work

Do this before you are actually within a job search. There’s nothing better to grab the attention of the hiring manager than concrete examples that back up what you say you can do. Create your own site using a blogging platform such as WordPress or Squarespace, or go even simpler and use one of the many online portfolios that allow you to simply insert your work. Especially within creative fields, companies want to see what you can do. As another advantage, an online portfolio allows people to find you, rather than the other way around.

8. Define your motivations

Passion shows. And a start to finding this passion is to identify what makes you excited about the profession you are in. Take the time to map out your goals and motivations and as a result, you will be able to speak more clearly and confidently during the job application process.

Searching for a job during tough economic times such as these is a real challenge. Use these tips to help stand out from the rest and find your way to the top of the hiring manager’s list.

For more job search advice, start here.

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