Standing out from the crowd: how to be a successful job applicant

Standing out from the crowdGetting a new job or promotion can be as much about your mindset as the skills you have to offer. But how can you present yourself in confident way? Here’s our favourite tips from the career experts at Position Ignition.

Recognise your own value

Think of yourself as a product. What are your achievements, key strengths, career highlights and areas of expertise? What good things have you been responsible for? What positive impact did you have?

Create an elevator pitch –  a short summary about yourself (which you could give to someone while moving between floors in a lift). Introduce who you are and what you can bring to an organisation. Include the most important things about yourself, perhaps drawing on your academic or career record and current job description. You can then use this when speaking to people or adapt for use in written materials.

Getting through the first hoop

You only have a few seconds to impress anyone who’s sifting through CVs or online profiles, so it’s important to make the most of these tools and spend time getting them right.

Recognise the value of your online profile. Many companies look online to find people to fill their roles and LinkedIn plays a large part in helping organisations to do this. Get your profile up there if you haven’t already.

Highlight the good stuff! Don’t worry about what may be missing, be it experience in a certain field, qualifications or amazing grades, and don’t put yourself down or make any excuses. Instead, focus on what’s good, what you can talk about and what you have done.

The value of networking

Understand the importance of using and building your networks. Start by telling your existing contacts –  friends, relatives, carers and neighbours – what you want and have to offer.

Let your network know what you want to do and why you believe you can get there. Contacts may keep you in mind and remember you if they come across something that could be suitable or useful for you.

Get feedback and use this to improve what you do. Ask people for comments on your CV, your online profile, how you present yourself, and if unsuccessful at interview. The more information you have to work with the more you can refine your approach.

Get yourself out there

Career fairs offer the chance to get information on careers and companies that might be an option for you, and to meet different employers. Keep an eye out for career fairs in your local area and go to those that seem most relevant. Most are free to attend.

Take a few copies of your CV and give them to employers that genuinely interest you. Don’t print off hundreds of CVs and give them to every employer exhibiting at the fair. A targeted approach is a much better than a scattergun one. Turn up early – if you arrive during the last half hour, some exhibitors and networkers will already have left, or feel less motivated to talk to new people.

Ask questions and listen carefully. Don’t talk at people about yourself – ask questions and find out as much as you can about them, about the market, about what’s going on in their company.

Follow up connections you make through networking. There’s no point making new a connection if you don’t then build on that relationship and use it to promote yourself. Email or telephone new contacts saying it was good to have met.

Look the part

What do you want people to think about you when they first see you? What impression do you want to give them through your clothing and body language? Get to know your industry and role. What do others in this field wear? Make sure you are comfortable. Shoes or clothes that you aren’t used to wearing can make you feel awkward or prove distracting.

Act as though you are confident. Think about how you stand, how you shake hands and how you greet people. Your facial expressions are also important. Don’t look bored in meetings with your boss, at events or in job interviews. Look interested in order to look like an interesting prospect.

Succeeding at interviews

People usually buy a product because it’s going to resolve a problem they have. In an interview, offering solutions to problems can be a real asset. Spend some time researching issues facing a company or sector and think about how they could be addressed.

Be specific. Don’t just make claims about what you can offer, but give examples of times you’ve used your skills and qualities to resolve a situation.

Ask questions that show you have a genuine interest in the role and the company, such as where the role fits into the organisational structure, or what plans the organisation or business area has for the future.

Try and think about things from the interviewer’s perspective. What are they looking for?

And finally, be yourself and keep at it. It takes time to get out there and feel confident about selling yourself and it can take time before you get to where you want to be.

E-book Sell Yourself With Confidence: 100 Tips on Selling You is available from career specialists Position Ignition.