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How Job Candidates Can Stand Out in a Sea of Applications

How Job Candidates Can Stand Out in a Sea of Applications

In today's competitive job market, making a lasting impression on hiring managers can feel impossible. A recent survey by Express Employment Professionals and Harris Poll reveals  employers receive a flood of applications, making it easy for qualified candidates to get lost in the shuffle.

But fear not, job seekers! The survey also identified key strategies, like showcasing your passion for the role and researching the company, to rise above the competition.

Keeping the resume short and concise (37%), having a personal referral from someone who works at the company (36%), showing creativity (34%), and including links to relevant work (32%) are also helpful.

Beyond Tangible Qualifications

About half of job seekers believe that, to a company, dependability (41%), willingness to learn (39%), work ethic (37%) and communication skills (33%) are absolutely essential traits for a candidate to possess when applying for a job.

The ability to work well in a team (31%), problem-solving skills (30%), time management skills (27%), adaptability (27%), and critical thinking skills (27%) are also important.

Perhaps a sign of a shift in the generational workforce, Gen X and boomers/seniors are more likely to consider dependability absolutely essential compared to Gen Z and Millennials (52%, 54%, vs. 32%, 33%). However, Gen Z is more likely to consider initiative as absolutely essential compared to other generations (35% vs. 15% Millennials, 23% Gen X, 23% boomers), as well as creativity (26% vs. 13% Millennials, 15% Gen X, 15% boomers).

Distinguished From the Competition

As job seekers consider which skills and traits may be important to have, they also think about the ways to stand out when applying to a job. More than half of Canadian job seekers say that demonstrating passion for the role (60%) will help, as will showing they’ve researched the company (49%).

Close to half (44%) say that quantifying achievements, keeping the resume concise (43%), having a personal referral from someone who works at the company (42%), and showing their creativity (31%) will separate them from the competition.

Interestingly, many job seekers believe connecting more personally during the job application process can help them stand out. More than a quarter of job seekers (27%) believe reaching out to the company’s hiring manager regarding the status of their application is beneficial, as is having a visually appealing resume (25%), connecting on social media (13%), or including a photo (9%).

“In the competitive landscape of job interviews, it is vital for candidates to grasp the importance of standing out,” said Bill Stoller, Express Employment International CEO. “It is not merely about meeting basic qualifications, but surpassing expectations with distinct strengths and qualities that make a lasting impact.”

Do Something Different

Sometimes you need to go above and beyond in the job hunt. Consider this story.

Sarah, a recent graphic design graduate, was facing a crowded job market. Every design position she applied for seemed to have hundreds of applicants. Determined to make herself memorable, Sarah took a unique approach. Instead of the standard resume and cover letter, she designed a website specifically for the company she was most interested in.

The website wasn't just a fancy online resume; it was a mini interactive experience. It showcased her design skills through creative animations and infographics highlighting her most relevant projects. It even included a section where she addressed specific challenges the company was facing, proposing design solutions she'd already brainstormed. The website concluded with a clear call to action, inviting them to view her full portfolio.

The company was impressed! Sarah's initiative, creativity, and genuine interest in their specific needs stood out from the generic applications. They were eager to meet the designer behind the impressive website and invited her in for an interview. Sarah's creativity landed her the interview, and her skills sealed the deal.