Regardless of industry, job hunting remains a competitive process. Potential employees often look for out-of-the-box ways to distinguish themselves from other candidates; however, they still need to remain true to themselves and demonstrate their value to the prospective employer.
Below, 15 members of Forbes Human Resources Council share their tips for applicants looking to stand out to a company during the interview process. Follow their advice the next time you’re applying for a competitive job.
1. Be Your Authentic Self
I believe that the way you will stand out to organizations is by being your most authentic self. Don’t be afraid to bring your ideas forward and to question or challenge the status quo in the most respectful way. Organizations need your uniqueness; you add value by showing what makes you different! Don’t be afraid to show how you can help them achieve their goals and reach new audiences and cultures. – Darlene Slaughter, March of Dimes
2. Personalize Your Introductions
Personalize your introductions. I am always impressed when a candidate looks for an opportunity to customize their introduction through due diligence on the hiring manager, the company’s mission, values or social media posts—anything beyond the standard cover letter. That said, acknowledge their efforts and respond—it takes a lot of time for them to personalize these messages and do the research. – Jennifer Beezer, FOREO Inc.
3. Draw Parallels To Past Experiences
Candidates should relate their past experiences to what the company is looking for. If the company is looking for a lead engineer, the person should discuss how they are qualified for the role and tie in how they relate to what the company is looking for. Read the job description and show you understand it. Candidates should review how the mission, values and vision tie into what they want as well. – Erin ImHof, Circadence
4. Emphasize Skills And Competencies Upfront
Emphasize skills and competencies upfront to fit a clear definition of what a superstar candidate looks like at any organization. Some departments or positions can have a very detailed description, while others are a little more open to interpretation. In either case, building candidate personas will help you decide where to focus your efforts. – Charles Hipps, Oleeo
5. Connect With Current Employees
When a candidate takes the time and makes the effort to connect with current employees or team members to understand first-hand the company’s priorities, culture and needs, that shows a genuine level of interest in the organization and sets them apart. That also provides them with a deeper understanding than any online research can give to help make an informed decision. – Subhashree Chaudhuri, Equal Opportunity Schools
6. Demonstrate Your Uniqueness
One tip for standing out is proudly demonstrating your uniqueness. Maybe it’s relevant to the company, the job or totally irrelevant, but sharing something unique will ensure you are noticed. My friend always includes three distinctive facts about herself when applying for jobs, one of which is that she is left-handed. Irrelevant? Likely. Conversation starter? Definitely. Memorable? Absolutely. – Megan Leasher, Talent Plus
7. Carefully Audit Your Resume Before Submitting
Go over your resume with a fine-tooth comb. It shouldn’t mention wanting to enter a different career than you are applying for in the summary, for example. In addition, your resume is your first impression, so make sure it is spotless. Job history should be accurate, each position should have details on what you did and you should avoid typos and grammatical errors. – Alex Pantich, Upshift
8. Look For Value And Culture Alignment
Applicants should ensure that their own personal beliefs align with a company’s values and culture. Applicants should discuss how their values align up with the company’s values and culture while showcasing their skills and abilities. Companies are looking for employees who fit their cultures and values, as it improves retention. If you don’t like the culture or values, don’t apply. – Charmaine Marie Smith, CSI, Inc.
9. Have A Clearly Articulated Purpose
Beyond the generic factors such as experience and skills, articulate the purpose that drives you (why), what your leadership style is (how) and what your learning style is (growth mindset). These three factors surface the uniqueness you bring to the team and how you will evolve with the role. As you explore the opportunity, highlight these factors to make a connection with the interview team. – Madhuri Peesapati, Marvell
10. Prepare Thoroughly For Your Interview
Show mutual interest by being prepared for your interview! Know the companies’ values, vision and mission statement. Be able to articulate them and inform those you interview with at each step which ones resonate the strongest with you. – Nakisha Griffin, Ripple Effect
11. Introduce Yourself To The Hiring Manager
Introduce yourself to the hiring manager at the application stage. Send a message via social media about why you are interested in the role. Most likely they will make sure to at least review your resume which for a popular role may not have happened. This advice is given a lot but rarely taken; it really does make a difference. – Karla Reffold, Orpheus Cyber
12. Proactively Solve The Company’s Problems
People who are proactive in problem-solving are assets to any firm. Nothing would be more impressive to a hiring manager than if you can find the biggest problem that your role can solve and share ideas to solve it. Highlight your experience to reflect your capability to do so. Your commitment and thoughtfulness is bound to give you an edge in the hiring process. – Kumar Abhishek, S&P Global
13. Demonstrate The Impact You Can Drive
When the candidate shows they have done some research on the company or the actual role and shows excitement about not just the job, but how their experience has prepared them for a career at your company, they can drive impact to the company. One tip I would give to all applicants is to make your resume stand out in two dimensions— communicate who you are and what you can bring to the role and the company. – Madhukar Govindaraju, Numly™, Inc.
14. Mind Your Business Etiquette
Following proper business etiquette will make an applicant stand out. Display good manners and proper grammar in all of your verbal and written communications and personalize messages. Make sure your appearance, in-person or online, is business-appropriate for the job. Send a handwritten thank-you note after an interview. These actions will surely set you apart from other applicants. – Lynne Marie Finn, Broadleaf Results
15. Showcase Non-Work Experiences
Always make sure to stand out with not only your professional career but also with your non-professional career, such as volunteer work or being a board member. Hiring managers will look at the full resume and note a well-rounded applicant. Make sure your employment dates align and remember that less is more. There is nothing worse than a four-page resume when hiring managers are looking for a crisp view into your career. – Heather Smith, Flimp Communications