This guest post offers some interesting ideas for you to stand out in the crowd of job seekers.  I hope you find it to be useful.


Photo Credit: One Way Stock via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: One Way Stock via Compfight cc

When performing initial candidate screening, recruiters usually already have in mind the kind of candidate they think will be perfect for the offered position. Since you’re not directly involved in the process, you simply must ensure that your killer resume and cover letter speak for themselves.

There are many strategies that can help you to convince recruiters that you’re the best fit for the job and get invited to an interview. Here are 10 tips that show you what recruiters expect, appreciate and look for when selecting candidates during the process of initial resume selection.

1. Reaching Out

If you think sitting in front of your computer and automatically sending out your resumes will get you a job interview, you’re wrong. Many recruiters appreciate candidates who adopt a proactive attitude and contact them directly instead of waiting for the job to find them. Treat a job posting as an indication of a company’s interest in hiring and use the backdoor to get more information about the offer.

Before you send your resume, contact the recruiter responsible for the offered position – be brief, express your enthusiasm for the opportunity and market yourself by emphasizing all your strengths and stating what you can add to the team or project.

2. Knowing the Company

Before beginning a job hunt, you should have a clear idea about your career goals – what kind of position, company and industry you’d like to get into. Once you identify your professional interests and companies that you’d like to work at, it’s time for a thorough market research – have a look at company websites, read the ‘About Us’ section and see what the press has been writing about them recently. All this will help you to understand how other people can help you to get inside your dream company and open you up for networking possibilities that are often key for getting that first meeting.

3. The Value of Referrals 

If you’re set on getting an interview at one specific company, try getting an internal referral – it almost always leads to a meeting and sometimes to a job offer. If the referral gives you a personal recommendation, you can be sure to impress hiring managers and get them interested in your profile. Your networking efforts should make up for at least half of the time spent on looking for a job – recruiters always appreciate people who aren’t afraid to get out there and involve others in helping them to reach their goals.

4. Offering Something Different

If you want to be noticed, remembered and invited to an interview, you need to provide something different and unusual. A hiring manager once told me a story about a candidate, who prepared an insightful competitive analysis for a social media marketing position in the fashion industry and sent it to a VP, who in turn passed it on to the Director. As you can imagine, the guy got an interview as a result of his smart move.

5. Sometimes Passive Works Better Than Active

In general, passive candidates are more desirable than active ones. When contacting a recruiter, don’t express your interest in the job.  Instead say that one of your associates sent you a link to this offer, but since you’re not actively looking, you’d like to learn more about the position before you decide to become a serious candidate. Play hard to get and often recruiters will want you more.

6. Customize Your Application

Sending generic e-mail templates will get you nowhere. A way to stand out from the crowd is to research the company and include what you’ve learned in your e-mails & cover letters. When foregrounding your strengths, relate them to the company’s current projects or products, saying how your qualifications can be relevant and beneficial. Recruiters will be impressed that you took the time to learn what the company is about and appreciate your enthusiastic and professional approach.

7. Develop Robust Social Media Profiles

Even if your resume doesn’t say everything about you, make sure your social media profiles do. Today, recruiters don’t just go to social media to spot red flags or inappropriate posts – they visit your profiles to check your status in the industry. Seeing a Twitter account full of interesting comments about your sector and links to valuable content is much more important that a personal photo in a Facebook profile.

8. Send a Great Resume

According to a 2012 study by The Ladders, the amount of time it takes for a recruiter to assess a resume is 6 seconds.  When writing your CV, make sure to use those 6 seconds wisely. Your resume should have a clear structure and be scannable. Simple is key.

Use language that mirrors the job posting and verbatim words that are key to the company’s brand. Format your resume in reverse chronological order and go for a font size of at least 11 – choose a serif font (Times, Bell MT, Georgia) or sans serif one (Arial, Calibri, Tahoma, Lucida Sans), but make sure it’s readable.

9. Following Up

You can end your cover letter with a promise of follow up – make sure to keep it. Unless the job posting states that no further calls or e-mails are invited, you can easily follow up within three to five working days and reiterate your interest in the job. When calling, state your name, mention that you’ve submitted a resume for a position and ask for some background info about the recruiting process.

When writing an e-mail, state your objectives and point out all your strengths that might benefit the company. In both cases, invite the recruiter to ask preliminary questions about you – they might use this opportunity to get some valuable information that can later lead to an interview invitation.

10. When Too Much is Really Too Much

Don’t become an annoying feature in a recruiter’s life. Hiring managers are people too and they’re trying to do their job as best as they can – before picking up the phone or clicking the ‘Send’ button, think about how your incessant calling and e-mailing might become distracting and actually counter-productive.

Repeated follow-ups can be tricky, but if you’re confident about your approach, go for it. Remember that, depending on the industry, sector and company, the time between posting a job offer and actual interviews might be longer than you’d expect – a few months, for instance.

Today’s overcrowded job market doesn’t exactly make your job of finding a suitable and satisfying position easier – your success at landing an interview will depend on various factors, quite a few of which are under your control. Use the tips above and be hopeful – project an optimistic image and you’ll see recruiters will be interested in getting to know you.


Thanks to Isabel Wiliams of who contributed this article.