1 Aug

How to Differentiate Yourself as a Job Candidate

Posted by John Brandwagt

Differentiating yourself as a job candidate can be difficult, especially if you’re interviewing at a larger corporation or for a very competitive role. Hiring managers see a lot of people walk through their door, and in order to land the job of your dreams, you need to find the best strategy to blow your competitors out of the water.

In combination with your own unique set of skills and experience, there are a few things that you can to do help you stand out as a job candidate. Here are just a few tips and tricks to stand out from the job-hunting crowd.

Don’t Be Afraid to Seem Curious

While curiosity may have killed the cat, it definitely doesn’t kill the interview. During your first meeting with a hiring manager, don’t squash any questions or comments that you may have during your interview—save them up and be prepared to bring them up during an appropriate time.

Most professional recruiters will agree that a healthy intellectual curiosity is hugely beneficial to a candidate, as it shows that they have an active mind, a willingness to solve problems, and a dedication to their work. A job candidate who simply nods along during the job hiring process can seem like they aren’t passionate about their work, so being curious and engaged will differentiate yourself from your competitors in a big way.

Keep Your Cover Letter Specific

When you’re applying for a lot of jobs, it can be tempting to write a cover letter that has a basic template that can be sent out to any number of organizations. In reality, this is likely a huge hindrance in your job search. Hiring managers read through hundreds of cover letters a year, and they’ve learned to recognize the lingo of job candidates who aren’t trying hard enough. Tailoring your cover letter to suit both the company and the position that you’re applying to shows that you’re dedicated to the work and have an eye for detail—which can be a surprisingly rare thing to find in a job candidate.

Beware of Body Language

You’ve probably heard before about how important it is to have a sturdy handshake, but making a good impression through your body language goes so much further than that. Even just leaning too far back during an interview can give off the impression that you’re not engaged in the discussion—so being aware of your bodily presence can be a huge part of demonstrating confidence during an interview.

While you shouldn’t be so aware of your body language to the point where it becomes distracting, make sure that you’re doing enough to stand out. Eye contact, not fidgeting, smiling, and good posture can all go a long way in making a strong first impression, so practice in front a mirror beforehand to perfect your interview presence.

The Follow Up

Following up after an interview can be one of the trickiest parts of the job hunt for a candidate, but one of the best tools to help them stand out. While you certainly don’t want to annoy your point of contact with inquiries, it can be a really great boost for you to send a quick email or thank-you note after you’ve completed your interview cycle.

The trick is doing it the right way—which can vary from person to person and company to company. If you’re interviewing for a CIO position at large corporation, sending a plate of cupcakes and a colourful hand-designed thank you card might not be the most professional follow-up tactic—but it could work perfectly for a smaller start-up with a design-heavy focus. Use your best discretion, be polite, and always be grateful for the experience.

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Topics: Job Search

John Brandwagt

John is a Practice Leader at Inteqna. He’s been working in IT Search in Calgary since 1997. He works best with selective job seekers—those who excel at what they do and enjoy their current jobs. Since they don’t have time to look for themselves, he helps them find their dream jobs. From a client perspective, he helps organizations find the talent that will propel their business. John is involved in several of Calgary’s technical user groups and has held board roles in non-profit groups. He is a single dad of four boys who try to beat him at every physical activity from hiking to rugby.

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