5 simple ways to stand out to employers when you’re job hunting

Making a memorable impression to employers can have a huge payoff: it can help you to land the job you want.

The job market is surging with activity right now. There are a lot of great roles advertised at the moment, with many employers actively searching for the best candidates.

Here’s how to approach your resume and interview in a way that will help you stand out from the competition and boost your chances of success.

  1. Give examples of your relevant skills and experience
    Make sure your resume and cover letter detail your relevant experience, and highlight skills that clearly match the key selection criteria in the job ad. This can be the difference between your application making it through to the next stage or not. 

    In fact, research for SEEK shows that giving examples of skills and experience are the best ways to make an applicant stand out to employers in the application or interview stage.

    Many employers use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to scan resumes for keywords like key skills, qualifications and experience that are listed in the job ad. “If you don’t include them, your resume might be screened out by the ‘bot’ before it even makes it in front of the eyes of a recruiter,” says Career and Interview Coach, Leah Lambart.

    And even when your application makes it through to a human, the hiring manager or recruiter reading it will very quickly search for specific skills and experience that match the job requirements.

    To make sure your relevant skills and experience get noticed, Lambart recommends including a key skills section in the first page of your resume. “Ensure your skills are written in a succinct and professional manner, and describe how you have used that skill in your current or previous roles.”

    There are many ways to speak confidently about your skills in an interview setting as well.
  2. Customise your resume

    Avoid using a generic resume to apply for multiple roles. Instead, take the time to customise a resume that shows how your skills and experience fit the specific job you’re applying for. This shows you’re suitable for the role and serious about it.

    As it turns out, 63% of employers would be more likely to hire someone who has included a customised resume or cover letter with their application. It’s also worth noting that a nicely formatted resume will score you bonus points with almost half of employers.

    “Make it easy for the employer to identify whether your skills, experience and qualifications are a match for the role by ensuring that the most important criteria jump off the page,” Lambart says. “The text should be well spaced and include bullet points to highlight key responsibilities and achievements.”

  3. Ask good questions in the interview
    Use the interview to ask your own questions about the culture of the organisation, who you’ll be working with and what an average day looks like. This not only helps your decision-making – it also signals to the employer that you’re genuinely interested in the role and keen to work out if you’re a good fit. In fact, 50% of employers believe this approach will help you stand out.

    Lambart suggests preparing three or four open-ended questions before an interview. “Great questions will get the employer talking more about the role, the team, the culture of the organisation or how they prefer to work,” she says. “Questions could also be asked about key challenges or priorities that you might face.”
  4. Show what you know about the organisation
    While it’s good to ask questions, steer clear of very basic or obvious questions with answers that are easily found on the company’s website.

    Instead, Lambart recommends doing your research before writing your application and going to an interview.  Focus on showing you understand the size of the organisation, their products or services, key competitors and reputation in the market.

    “An employer is going to be much more impressed when meeting a candidate who has spent some time researching the organisation,” she says. More than half of employers (55%) say appearing to be knowledgeable about the company helps to catch their eye.
  5. Master your interview technique
    Your interviewer might ask you questions known as ‘competency-based’ or ‘behavioural’ interview questions. While they might sound complex, these are really just questions designed to find out about your skills, by asking you to give examples of how you’ve used them.

    “For example, if teamwork is a really important skillset, you may be asked, ‘Tell us about a time when you made a positive contribution to a team’ or ‘Tell us about a time when you helped a colleague’,” says Lambart. 

    You can stand out by practising an effective interview question response technique called the ‘STAR’ method. This stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. Set the scene of the problem (situation), explain your role and responsibilities (task), explain how you tackled the problem (action) and detail the outcome (result).

Standing out to employers when you’re job hunting takes some planning and research, but this effort can be well worth it. By showing that you’re interested in the role, have taken time to understand the organisation and have relevant skills and experience, you’ll have a greater chance of getting noticed – and landing the job.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4,000 Kiwis annually. Published February 2022.