How to stand out from the candidate crowd

Leaving an impression during the application process is essential – you want to be as memorable and distinguishable as possible. Hiring managers and recruiters have tight schedules for viewing CV’s, interviewing, and making offers, so ensuring that you stand out from the crowd will improve your chances of being successful. Often, ‘what sets you apart from other candidates?’ will be a question you do encounter in an interview, so always plan ahead for this! You should highlight your abilities in a way that piques the interest of the recruiter or hiring manager.

Here are 10 simple yet effective ways to stand out from the candidate crowd and be memorable in the application process:

Optimise and update your CV

Look at your current CV, then consider your strengths, unique experiences and passion for the industry. Now, use those considerations to optimise your employment history, core skills and personal statement. Information should be up to date, and any unnecessary data removed. For example, don’t bother listing every GCSE you sat, or the societies you were part of at uni, if unrelated to the role. Use industry jargon and keywords to show the relevance of your skillset to the job specification and expectations. We often see some candidates with multiple CV’s, if they’ve needed to tailor their CV to a certain role.

    Be prompt with communication

    Ensure you respond swiftly to any correspondence from your new potential employer. This shows a number of positive attributes that will set you apart in a more subtle way. For example, good punctuality when responding to emails or calls will highlight your appreciation, your eagerness to receive an offer, and your ability to communicate efficiently. As it happens, these transferable skills are all super desirable for the majority of roles out there. 

    Stick to times & schedules

    Seriously, steer clear of rescheduling interviews. While emergencies and illnesses can occur, and valid reasons will be acknowledged, it’s advisable to minimize alterations to the time of your Zoom interview or the scheduled screening day. Regrettably, when the hiring panel has to rearrange their schedules, it can create a negative impression. Some candidates will inevitably reschedule, so adhering to your original interview slot is a straightforward yet effective way to enhance your chances of securing the job.

    Demonstrate willingness and grit 

    If you look like you can’t be bothered, they won’t bother hiring you. We understand how taxing a tedious job search can be, especially if it happens to be your 47th interview in 3 weeks and you’ve so far been unsuccessful. BUT if you’re still showing up, you may as well give it 110%. Willingness to learn, alongside grit and determination, make for a highly motivated and appealing candidate to the hiring team. Being committed to doing your best is a basic but underrated character trait. If other applicants don’t give it their all, then you’ll stand from the candidate crowd out for sure.

      Do your research

      If you turn up to your first interview, and you haven’t researched the company, just go home. Honestly, there is no point wasting your time or theirs. No one expects you to put together a file of case studies or financial statements, but you HAVE to show some understanding of the company you’re applying to work for. Think of it this way; the hiring manager has taken the time to review your CV, look at your LinkedIn, etc. It’s common courtesy to spend as much time researching the company in return. At the end of the day, it’s for everyone’s benefit and only takes a quick Google search to find some news articles or 3rd party information about the company. No excuses! P.s don’t be tempted to recite the company’s ‘About Us’ page! 

      Ask questions

      We can’t stress this enough – questions are the KEY to successful interviews. Asking questions demonstrates enthusiasm and initiative. It also improves your likability; remember, interested candidates are more interesting. A tip for being more memorable is to ask the hiring manager questions that directly relate to them. For example if they’re a team manager, you could ask, ‘what drew you to this company, and what’s your favourite part of working here?’. Alternatively, if your interviewer is a director you could ask ‘what are the long-term goals for the business’. These question will immediately strike the interviewer as friendly, confident and make you seem more approachable. Similarly, if there’s an aspect of the role/company you’re unsure about, ASK! Your interviewer will respect you more for asking them to clarify a point, than for answering ‘no’ when they open the floor for questions.

      Emphasise your position 

      Make a point of directly explaining why they should choose you. Ensure you prepare an answer to ‘so, what makes you the best fit for this role?’ prior to your interview – as this is a COMMON question. Review the requirements, expectations and duties listed on the vacancy. Next, note down the areas you feel you would confidently perform well in, and demonstrate ‘why’ with real-life examples. Being able to prove yourself with past experience is a useful tool to emphasise your suitability for the position, and stand out from the candidate crowd.

      Don’t scrimp on the small-talk!

      At the end of the day, companies want to hire a candidate who will fit in with their culture and get along with current employees. Demonstrate these qualities is by engaging in small-talk during your interview. Hiring managers, executives and directors are real PEOPLE, with likes, dislikes, interests and hobbies. If you can find out what these interests are prior to the interview, you’ll have a great ice-breaker or opportunity to show your personality. For example, you may have seen on the ‘About Us’ that the hiring manager is partial to watching football at the weekend, and you might (unfortunately) support Spurs. If the hiring manager also supports Spurs, you can spend 10 minutes talking about how stressful it is. Acknowledging this shared interest will create a connection between you and those responsible for hiring new employees, and ultimately be more memorable. So, don’t forget the small-talk, as it could make you favourable over other applicants.

      Start doing the job early 

      When you apply for a role, think ‘what can I do to show that I’m already thinking and acting as if I’ve got the job?’. Obviously, employers are aware that there will be a settling-in period, with new hires needing to be trained and brought up to speed. Preparing a plan for how you’d go about your first few weeks will be super refreshing for the hiring manager to see. It’s also something that other candidates are less likely to do, so pre-planning will automatically set you above the rest, and show how much you want the job. 

      Never underestimate the power of a follow up ‘thank you’

      This is the LAST chance you have to leave an impression. Taking the time to thank your interviewer for giving up their valuable time is a commonly forgotten simple courtesy. How long would it take to compose a ‘thank you’ email? Our bet is 5-10 minutes maximum. This is a GOLDEN opportunity to showcase your politeness, gratitude and personable skills. A follow-up ‘thank you’ shows a certain level of maturity, politeness and professionalism that is surprisingly hard to come by. Most of all, you will be far more memorable than the candidate who doesn’t follow-up. 

      In your next interview, use these tips for guidance on how to stand out from the candidate crowd. Remember, getting hired isn’t easy! Applying for jobs is a minefield and interviews are a nerve-racking experience for even the most weathered candidates. If you aren’t successful, don’t lose heart – resilience isn’t built from one ‘NO’, but from bouncing back from every ‘NO’ until you hear ‘YES, you’re hired’.

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