5 things that will make you stand out the most in a job interview

Data from Glassdoor shows that the average corporate job opening attracts 250 résumés, out of which a maximum of six, or just 2.4% of those who applied, are called for an interview.

This means that when applying for a job the odds are simply stacked against you, it said.

However, there are a number of simple, seemingly insignificant actions that you can take to improve your job prospects.

Below, the recruitment specialist outlined five of the most common ways that job applicants can help themselves stand out.


Cover letter

Your cover letter is your opportunity to make a first impression, and in some cases it can be more important than your résumé.

In fact,most companies first screen resumes with talent management software before a human looks at it; these talent management software often weed out up to 50% of applications.

Often, spending a few extra minutes on your cover letter can mean the difference between getting hired or not.

The following tips will help make your cover letter a lot more effective:

  • Avoid using cliches and unnatural phrases in your cover letter;
  • Keep your cover letter short and simple; you want your cover letter to be no longer than a page; ideally about four paragraphs;
  • Use your cover letter to show that you understand the organization’s needs and can play a key role; it should be about the organization and not you. You want to steer clear of using a lot of “I”;
  • Carefully review and edit your cover letter to avoid mistakes or typographical errors — this is very important since your cover letter is often your first impression; in fact, typos in résumés is the number one reason employers automatically dismiss a candidate for consideration, with 61 percent of employers dismissing a candidate just because of this;
  • Don’t make your cover letter a repeat of your résumé; instead, use it as an opportunity to highlight your top selling points and address possible discrepancies in your résumé(such as an employment gap, for example).

Get Certified

There are many benefits to getting certified: a report by Monster found that getting certified can result in an average pay increase of between 25 to 75 percent.

Glassdoor’s interview of recruiters and HR professionals also found that the right certifications can increase a candidate’s odds of getting hired.

If you are yet to be certified, it might be a good idea to get a certification to improve your job prospects and employability.

  • If you’re a network administrator, you can get the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), or Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification;
  • If you work in accounting or finance, you can get a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification;
  • If you work as a graphic designer you can get the Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) certification;
  • If you work in project management you can get the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

Regardless of your industry, there is most certainly a certification you can get to increase perception of your value and improve your employability.


Highlight your accomplishments in a very clear and specific manner

While many job seekers tend to obsess over their GPA or degree (or lack of) when working on their résumés, recruiters tend to prefer to read more about your accomplishments in similar roles to get a feel for how much of a difference you can make in the organization.

You want to go beyond just listing accomplishments. Instead, you want to list your accomplishments in a clear and specific way.


Create a personal website or blog and highlight it when necessary

Having a personal website, or blog, might appear insignificant or irrelevant to your getting hired, but it could be one of the single most important actions you can take.

In fact, according to a study, hiring managers are more impressed by a candidate’s personal website than any other personal branding tool — with 56% of hiring managers preferring it. Yet, just 7% of job seekers have a personal website.


Work on your follow up game

Pretty much all hiring managers expect — and encourage — candidates to follow up after sending in an application.

This is especially critical when you consider that the odds are stacked against you: the average job opening will get about 250 applications, and many of these applicants won’t follow up after submitting their application.

Following up is the one way to give yourself an edge in the sea of applications your employer is likely to be inundated with.

Following up puts you ahead of the pack; while it is unlikely that a recruiter remembers each of 250 candidates that applied for a job, you can be sure that the candidate that followed up a few times will stand out.


Read: The most in-demand jobs in South Africa right now – and how much they pay

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5 things that will make you stand out the most in a job interview