We all want to find (and land!) that perfect role in our field. But when employers interview several candidates for each position, it often comes down to the individual who makes the best impression. Read on to learn how to stand out and impress hiring managers and recruiters.
“A good resume and a friendly smile are enough…right?”
You’d think so, but when you’re competing against other skilled candidates, you may need more. With the rise of technology and online job applications, your resume may be one of hundreds that a recruiter has to sift through. You need to find ways to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
So how can you do that? Here are 3 practical tips for standing out to recruiters and hiring managers, and landing your dream job:
It may seem like a no-brainer, but a well-written and visually appealing resume is key to catching the attention of recruiters. In a digital-first world, it’s also important to optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems (ATS) by using relevant keywords and use formatting that’s easily readable by machines and artificial intelligence(AI).
What Recruiters Look for in a Resume
You may be surprised to learn that recruiters spend only about 6 seconds on initial resume review. When scanning a resume, recruiters and HR professionals snap-judge the content, structure and design. To make the cut, keep their priorities in mind:
- Relevant skills and keywords – Tailor your resume to the job description
- Quantifiable achievements – Focus on contributions over duties
- Easy-to scan-formatting – Use white space, bullets and bold text judiciously
- Clear structure and reverse chronology – Follow logical flow and organization
- Keywords for ATS optimization – Use the industry and job-specific terms recognized by applicant tracking systems
Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description
Generic resumes that could apply to any job simply will not make you stand out. Instead, carefully review the job posting and target your resume specifically to the role.
Mirror the keywords and terminology used in the job posting while highlighting related accomplishments. This targeted approach makes your fit obvious and will show that you understand the company and what they value.
Highlight Achievements Over Duties
While past responsibilities provide helpful context, it’s the quantifiable achievements and contributions that paint a clear picture of your value-add. Whenever possible, shift focus to powerful result statements, starting with strong action verbs. Share the tangible impact you made in key areas that matter most for the open position.
Data shows resumes that incorporate measurable wins and outcomes receive more interview offers. Provide detail about the scope of projects, teams you directed or contributions made, and metrics you or your team improved – anything that will resonate with the hiring manager’s goals. This type of approach will make you stand out as a valuable asset to your employer.
Choose a Clean, Easy-to-Skim Layout
With plain black and white walls of text, your resume may not get much attention. Implement creative yet professional design elements like:
- Visual separators between sections
- Bulleted lists
- Selective use of color
- Charts/graphs to visualize key metrics
- Ample white space
These best practices significantly enhance readability and add visual interest. Likewise, a clean font and thoughtful structure quickly convey key details to the skimming eye.
Create an ATS-Friendly Resume
More employers than ever utilize Applicant Tracking Systems to screen resumes digitally before human review. While a smart job search strategy tailors your resume to grab the hiring manager’s attention, you must also cater to ATS screening tools.
Failing to optimize for mechanical resume scans and keyword searches often leaves qualified candidates overlooked. Here are some tips:
- Use simple, conventional formatting without complex tables/columns
- Use standard sans-serif fonts like Arial rather than stylized scripts
- Avoid using borders, images, and graphics
- Use consistent verb tense and chronological order
- Mirror words from the job description, but avoid forced repetition
- Save the file as .DOCX rather than PDF if possible
Strive to meet ATS requirements and hiring manager priorities. Writing your resume for both human and digital gatekeepers by including relevant keywords and highlighting your accomplishments will strengthen your resume.
Congratulations, your standout resume and cover letter earned you an interview! The face-to-face screening represents another prime opportunity to shine, and it can also protect you from recruiter scams. Bring your A-game to in-person and virtual interviews, from your appearance to your communication style.
Dress for Success: First Impressions Matter
The age-old wisdom around first impressions holds true for job interviews. Assess the organization’s dress code in advance and dress a notch above to showcase you mean business.
In formal business settings, stick to well-fitting suits in dark colors paired with minimal accessories and neatly groomed hair and nails. Try to learn about if the culture is more casual or creative. But when in doubt, it’s always better to overdress than underdress!
Check Your Body Language and Demeanor
Beyond your interview attire, seeming engaged, confident and enthusiastic is crucial. Make steady yet natural eye contact, actively listen, smile and nod appropriately, and avoid nervous mannerisms like fidgeting, poor posture or checking your cell phone.
Your body language can convey just as much as your responses, so send positive signals. Likewise, keep your tone warm, authentic, and friendly while speaking clearly and concisely.
Answering Common Interview Questions with Confidence
Of course, you’ll need to show substance behind your appearance. Come equipped with clear, compelling soundbites for frequent interview questions like “Walk me through your resume,” “Why do you want this job?” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
Identify likely role-specific questions around expertise and have success stories ready. By preparing responses that highlight your qualifications, you can tackle interview questions like an expert.
Ask Insightful Questions
Interviews go two ways, so come armed with thoughtful questions signaling your interest in the position. Inquiries focused on company culture, growth opportunities in the role, leadership priorities, and challenges of the job will show you are a serious candidate.
Time spent asking questions also limits potential gaps in the interview. Develop at least 2-3 quality questions that further the conversation to show your interest and enthusiasm for the role.
3. Follow Up – Leave a Lasting Impression
You nailed the resume, cover letter, and interview. But don’t stop there! Following up courteously keeps you top of mind in a sea of applicants. Reiterate enthusiasm, highlight qualifications and encourage next steps through savvy communication.
Send a Thank-You Note
Handwritten thank-you notes certainly stand out, but a timely email suffices. Express your appreciation for the recruiter’s or manager’s time while touching on something specific you enjoyed discussing. Briefly call out one extra qualification or accomplishment missed initially. Thank-you notes showcase professionalism and get your name back in the hiring manager’s inbox.
Here’s an example of a simple thank-you note:
Dear [Hiring Manager],
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me yesterday. I enjoyed our conversation about [specific topic discussed] and am excited about the potential opportunity to join your team at [company name]. After our discussion, I realized I forgot to mention my experience in [related skill or qualification]. As a quick reminder, please find my attached resume for further consideration.
Thank you again for considering me for this role. I hope to have the chance to work with such a talented team.
While thank you notes may seem like a small gesture, they can make a big impact on a hiring manager. Not only does it showcase your appreciation and interest, but it also allows you to reiterate your qualifications.
Communicate in a Timely and Professional Manner
If you agreed to follow up by a certain date, honor that commitment. Be responsive, whether providing additional requested items or checking on next steps. Tell them of your interest, discuss your available start date and confirm contact details. Timely communication keeps you relevant, while disorganization can quickly disqualify you.
Keep the Conversation Going
Until you receive an offer, continue nurturing the relationship. Share relevant articles, briefly touch base if the process spans weeks, and seek creative ways to add value. Avoid seeming pushy but staying engaged is better than silence and waiting. Continue to position yourself as someone who is invested in the opportunity.
Beyond your independent efforts, partnering with a staffing firm like BravoTECH is a proactive strategy for landing the best opportunities. They have valuable networks and company insight while providing guidance as you navigate the process. For example, recruiters may have placed someone with the company before and have insight into its hiring and onboarding processes.
Leverage Recruiter Networks
Experienced recruiters at staffing agencies have connections with a large number of regional employers. They understand their business objectives, preferred experience levels and hiring approaches. Recruiters also have contacts with employees at these companies — networks you lack as an individual. Tapping into their spheres unlocks access and referrals.
Be Persistent – Your Dream Role Awaits
Standing out during the job search and hiring process requires extra effort and savvy strategies. From resume design to follow-up courtesies, each step offers opportunities to distinguish yourself as a top candidate.
You can position yourself above the rest by showing interviewers you are a great fit for the job, highlighting accomplishments over duties, nurturing relationships with recruiters and hiring managers, and showing your enthusiasm. Remember that working with recruiters can accelerate your job search, especially if you have unique skills that add value.
If at first you don’t succeed, do not feel you’ve wasted your time. Every interview gives you a chance to improve your resume and interviewing skills. If you impress a recruiter or hiring manager but do not receive a job offer, they will most certainly keep you in mind for a future position. Continue to stay in touch with companies that impressed you – and don’t forget to continue networking!
These practical tips and best practices provide a roadmap to help you capture the attention of recruiting and hiring managers. Good luck in your job search!
Connect With Us
Are you seeking a contract or full-time position? BravoTECH recruiters can accelerate your search. Take a look at our current job openings at jobs.bravotech.com or call us at 800-762-7286.