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How to Stand Out to an Employer

Something I’ve noticed coming up with students recently is just how they can stand out to an employer. How can you make your application and interview so good that the employer just has to hire you? There are all of the standard conventions to follow (look at the section on CareerHub on applications and CVs) but this post looks at four things to help make you the perfect choice for an employer…

 

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Don’t undersell your work experience

Whatever your work experience (long term, short term, full-time, part-time, paid, unpaid or voluntary) it is a selling point and a reason why an employer should think about hiring you. Something we hear over and over again is: “but I’ve only worked in a shop or behind a bar…” Communication, problem solving, customer service, teamwork; these are all skills that you are likely to have developed and demonstrated. It doesn’t matter that the job you are going for may be in an entirely different industry, you can take these transferable skills with you wherever you work.

Interests section on your CV

Now, I think that this one is often missed off CVs. I saw a student the other day that was totally against having this section on their CV but it does add something to your application. It lets the employer know a bit about you outside of work and can show you to be a well-rounded individual. Your interests may also be used by an interviewer as a nice start to an interview. Companies can have quite different work ethics and environments so may look for an individual who will fit into the ethos of the team and seeing your outside interests can help with this.

Targeting

Put yourself in an employer’s shoes. Now honestly, how many of you have a paragraph as your personal profile that lists qualities you have? For example: “I am a hard working individual who works well in a team or individually. I am always on time, have a great attendance record and have excellent customer service skills.” If you do, that’s nice but I guarantee that an employer will have read or heard pretty much the same thing in hundreds of applications before they get to yours. So you need to excite them! “Highly motivated Environmental Management graduate with strong academic track record, proven research skills and two years’ experience of environmental/conservation work. Looking for an environmental research assistant role.” Now that’s two sentences but we know who this person is, have evidence of what they have done in the past, about their skills, how they gained them, and where they want to be in the future. This profile has been targeted to what they want to do. It’s also worth reading How to make an employer fall in love with you (About.com) to find out more.

Research

Every employer would like to know what it is about their company and what they do that makes you want to work with them. Do your research and tell them why you think they are great at what they do and what has made you choose them. Think about it: why are you applying in your chosen sector? Out of all the companies within that sector, why are you applying to this specific company? And out of all the roles this company has on offer, why this specific role? Get some answers to those questions. Have a look at The Guardian’s article on how to stand out from the crowd and you will be well on your way to standing out heads and shoulders above the other candidates.

 

(Image Credit: Svilen Milev)

 

Image of Katharine Littlefair

Katharine Littlefair is a Careers and Placements Officer in the Careers and Placements Service at the University of Hertfordshire

 

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