How to Stand Out as a Job Applicant

We’ve all been there – sending out resumes, completing job applications, prepping for that big one-on-one interview. But there are ways to approach your job hunt that might actually give you a leg up on the competition. Here’s some advice.

It is a well-known fact that today’s job market is extremely competitive. HR professionals and hiring managers often face a daunting task when a position opens up and dozens, sometimes hundreds, of applications and resumes flood into their inbox.

As a job applicant, the last thing you’ll want is to just blend in with everyone else.

But, there are many ways that a job candidate can showcase their talents and skills that will bring their application front and center. The idea is to get noticed and to ultimately get your foot in the door to meet face-to-face with leaders of the organization for an interview.

Here is a short step-by-step approach to consider to help get a leg up on the competition.


The first step to any hiring process is for the recruiter and hiring manager to gather a pool of applicants. The company will start with a job posting and will use many avenues to post their jobs, from local media like newspapers, job boards and social media marketing. Once posted, many jobs receive a flood of applicants.

Great Resumes Make Amazing First Impressions
There’s no doubt that you’ve taken plenty of time assembling your resume. The first document a potential employer sees about you is your resume – and it needs to be the finest proof of who you are as both an individual and as a professional. Here’s some tips on getting it right . . . and getting noticed.

Beginning with an effective resume, there are many things you  can do to make your resume stand out. Customizing your resume to each particular job is one effective approach. At the top, the value message or mission statement should reflect what the job entails and the mission of the organization to which you’re applying.

Customizing the resume to each company is equally important. The duties of one job can differ greatly from company to company. By doing a little research on the job posting and the company, you can tailor your mission, goals and prior duties to showcase what you bring to the table. Check out this link for some helpful guidance:

Your resume or application should also go beyond a standard educational profile to point out any special training, classes or certification that the you might have received throughout your career. Knowing the job and what it entails can often bring back certification training from many years ago that might apply.

Social Media

Most HR professionals are now utilizing social media in their recruiting process to conduct research on candidates that make the first cut after the application process is completed. This is where a career-based social media site like LinkedIn can be utilized by the job applicant. We all have LinkedIn accounts, but so many of us forget to maintain them. Keeping your social media profiles current and keeping your networks active help immensely. And don’t forget: a potential connection through LinkedIn may turn out to be a possible connection to the recruiter or hiring manager that could put the you suddenly at the top of the pecking order for a job.

8 Easy – Yet Effective – Improvements You Can Make to Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is undoubtedly the go-to platform when you want to interact with the top experts in any industry or see what others in your domain are up to in their professional lives. Here are 8 tips to help polish your profile and create a winning look on the best social media platform for careers.

Of course, with social media comes some negatives. Many HR professionals conduct a total social media search on applicants during a hiring process. This can lead those professional to check out sources like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see if there are any red flags on a potential candidate. Bottom line: keep your personal life, well, private. Social media really should be used primarily as a way to manage your personal brand.

Make a Connection

As a job applicant, one great way to stand out from the competition is to connect with a source on the inside of the company. Whether it is through a personal contact through a friend, a professional contact through an outside organization or a contact that is searched out, connecting with another employee of the company outside of the HR office can go a long way in getting you on the inside track.

If a personal contact isn’t directly known, some applicants go the extra mile to seek out the hiring manager for the position or someone who will work directly with the person hired for the position. Once identified, you can make yourself stand out by reaching out to that person directly either by phone or through email.

Interview Time

Once an applicant passes the initial stages of the hiring process and finally makes it to the interview process, this is where you, the candidate, have one final chance to pitch yourself. As you might expect, preparation is key.

If the initial interview is conducted by phone, be ready with talking points in front of you. You might be nervous and thinking on your feet could be difficult. So rehearse the things you might like to say and then simply follow the lead of the interviewer.

The next step is likely an in-person interview. Be personable. Show up prepared and knowledgeable. And be ready for any last minute questions that might come your way. Above all, take a deep breath and relax, bearing in mind that everyone other job applicant feels the same way that you do now.

By utilizing these simple tips through an application process, job applicants can effectively set themselves apart from their competition to land the job of their dreams. By taking the time to customize your approach to each and every job applied to and interviewed for, use every opportunity to put yourself in the best light in the eyes of the hiring manager.

Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor

Elizabeth Heron is an HR manager who helps employees find their career goals and motivates them through the process of reaching the ideal job. She is senior editor for, where she gives advice and examples for cover letters and resumes.

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