How to ensure your job application stands out from the crowd

Guest BloggerAdvice, Applications, Final Year, First Year, On Placement, Part-Time Jobs & Volunteering, Postgraduate, Second Year

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail– Benjamin Franklin.

 Job hunting can often be an extremely time-consuming process. With completing application forms, writing cover letters, editing CVs and carrying out psychometric tests all taking up time, it is no wonder a blasé attitude can begin to slip in. However, applications that have had the time and effort spent tailoring them to the specific role and company are the ones that shine and send that all important message to whomever receives it. When it comes to job applications, there is no “one size fits all” approach. Each role must be treated entirely independently of all you have applied for previously, ensuring each application focuses on exactly what that specific role requirement is asking at that specific company. If you’re sat wondering how you can go about tailoring your applications, or why this is so important, please keep reading.

Why is tailoring my applications important?

When faced with a multitude of applications to sift through, employers will be searching for the element that elevates your application from the rest. At the end of the day, companies want to find the ideal candidate for the role, someone who shows passion for the position and will be a valuable, dedicated employee for the years to come. Applications lacking this demonstration of knowledge and enthusiasm will be the first to be cut when whittling down to their short list. You need to show that you have taken time to properly research and learn about the company, you know the role requirements inside out and you have developed knowledge surrounding the sector they work within. Not only is this vital at initial application but even more so when invited to interview. Most likely, questions will be asked surrounding the company and the work they conduct which need to be met with well-informed, educated answers you have learnt through prior research.  If employers feel you have not put in the work now in preparing applications or for interview, they are unlikely to visualise you as a hard-working future employee.

How do I tailor my applications?

Research, research and, you guessed it, more research!

Begin by focusing on the role requirements and job description provided on the initial advertisement. Consider how your skills and experiences match what they are looking for and use robust examples to coherently demonstrate this. Not only should these be included in your cover letter or application form, but also ensure you have examples for these ready when attending interviews. Different positions at different companies will be asking for different skills. Make sure the examples you provide correlate to what their specification mentions. Writing a whole paragraph about your role as a society president providing you with ample leadership and communication skills is all well and good, but this is irrelevant if the company is not openly asking for individuals skilled in either.

Next, research the company. It is amazing how many applications are disregarded due to there being no mention of why the applicant wants to work for that specific company. Be sure to thoroughly explore their website and social media platforms, understanding what they do, how they work and market themselves and where their business objectives and beliefs lie. Consider what it is about the company that appeals to you; Do you resonate with the business values? Is there something fascinating about the industry sector that you wish to be a part of? Will a position with them provide something completely unique to any other? Employers want to sense that you understand their business and are truly passionate about working for them specifically. Be sure to include a short paragraph detailing this in your cover letter, emphasising your understanding of the brand and why you wish to be a part of it. One nugget of extra advice would be to read the companies blog posts since these often provide extra, detailed information in a variety of areas that other applicants may have overlooked.

Finally, conduct some general sector research. Having a great understanding of the company will allow your application to stand out against the bog-standard, impersonalised ones. To go that extra mile, have read into the sector the company works within. What are the current sector challenges or successes? Who are their main competitors within the sector and what do they offer? How has the recent global pandemic impacted the sector? Not only does this further your understanding for your own benefit, but it provides you with an abundance of knowledge to showcase at interview, sparking up conversations that will be memorable for the interviewers. Remember, if your answers could be given word-for-word at an interview for any company, then you are likely not going to stand out enough in the pool of candidates to be offered the position.

Hopefully this post has highlighted the importance of researching the company and position to ensure your applications and interview answers are tailored and specific. Following this advice is key to find success in your job hunting.

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

Written by Katie Oliver