5 ways to cut through the online job market

If you want to stand out from hundreds of other online job applicants, you need to think laterally about your resume and cover letter

When thinking of your next career move, you might want to consider an alternative approach to catch an employer's eye.

We’ve all been there before. You sit down to update your resume, adding the most up-to-date information from your most current job.

Then you write a cover letter that outlines your enthusiasm for the role and demonstrates why you are the best applicant, citing recent wins from your latest gig.

After one last proofing, you send the application off, crossing your fingers, toes, and eyes for a phone call asking you to come in for an interview – which is, of course, where the employer falls head over heels in love with you.

Ten years ago, this might have been the right way to go about securing a new opportunity. Today, the general consensus is that this is the best way to hand your dream job off to someone more creative, more resourceful and more willing to stand out.

In an age when we’re all vying for the six-second attention span of decision makers and hiring managers, how exactly do you cut through the online job market in order to differentiate yourself from everyone else and seize the opportunity you want?


1. Think outside the template

SEEK founder Andrew Bassat said in a recent interview that “technology will change every industry, and people should be more thoughtful about what this means”.

Start with your job application. There are a number of free online resources you can use to jazz up your CV with infographics, graphics and video content. You’ve probably submitted a thousand and one cover letters, but how many times have you done it with a video, where a potential employer has an opportunity to see how bright, funny and personable you are?

Susan Vitalie, chief marketing officer at iCIMS, a principle supplier of SaaS talent acquisition solutions, says that 65 per cent of employers are incorporating video technology in order to gain a better sense of a potential employee’s personality and professionalism before an on-site interview even takes place

“The adoption of video technology in the hiring process is growing as employers put more emphasis on understanding motivations and previous experience during the interview process.”

But buyers beware – this type of approach depends on the job for which you’re applying. It makes sense to submit a Lego resume if you’re applying to work for, well, Lego. If you’re applying for a role as a business development manager at a large IT corporation, then a succinct infographic could be much more effective and original.


2. Quantify your successes

The goal is to stand out, so listing your roles and responsibilities generically won’t get your resume anywhere but the bin. Listing your accomplishments, on the other hand, will show what you can do and give potential employers the opportunity to link your previous successes with your future ones.

Recruitment firm CareerBuilder recently outlined the resume terms it considers to be the most effective. These include strong action words (achieved, created, managed, resolved) that reflect an applicant’s specific experience, skills and accomplishments. Apply these words to quantified goals and objectives to maximise your hireability.

3. Show people who you are

Adam Grant, a Wharton Business School professor and best-selling author of the business book Give and Take, believes that our quirks are what make us most memorable. The more unique or unusual the better, according to Grant. If you enjoy international gaming conventions, Law & Order marathons or new and interesting ways to make puff pastry, consider including this information in your job application.  

“We bond when we share uncommon commonalities,” says Professor Grant, “which allow us to feel that we fit in and stand out at the same time.”

The more opportunities you give an employer to have something in common with you, the more likely you are to land an interview.

4. Take a bespoke approach

 There’s no greater destroyer of opportunity than the use of clichés. Avoid these dreaded resume killers at all costs. The only thing the word “synergy” tells a potential employer is that you didn’t take the time to acknowledge that the job posting requires someone who can work autonomously, or think laterally, or achieve goals repeatedly.

 If you really want the job, you’ll take the time to tailor your application to the specifications of the posting and enumerate the ways in which you would be a perfect fit. Show a potential employer how your experience and qualifications are relevant to their business, and don’t forget to include relevant keywords throughout your application, because hiring managers will do a search for them to weed out the people who didn’t bother making their resumes applicable to the role.

“We bond when we share uncommon commonalities, which allow us to feel that we fit in and stand out at the same time.” -Adam Grant

5. Be resourceful

Of course you’re making the most out of job websites, but there are other steps you can take.

Consider setting up a professional website where potential employers can go to learn more about you. According to Forbes, a candidate’s personal website is the best professional branding tool they can employ. Where 56 per cent of "hiring managers are more impressed with a candidate’s personal website than any other personal branding tool – only 7 per cent  of job seekers actually have a personal website”.

Workfolio founder and director Charles Pooley says that, “A website gives you creative freedom to express your personality in ways that are not possible through your resume. Everything from the bio paragraph you write to the design options you choose for your website says something about you, and gives recruiters more chances to decide if they want to bring you in for an interview.”

If you’re utilising social media to expand your job search (and everyone should be at this point) make sure your profiles are complete and active, especially on LinkedIn. Your photo should be professional and current. Post regularly, including posts that are relevant to the kinds of jobs for which you’re applying.

As always, be sure to keep social posts to social forums like Facebook, not LinkedIn, where hiring managers can easily observe your obsession with cat videos. Follow your favourite companies on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to get the latest news as it comes instead of waiting for job boards to be updated.

Your online job application is an extension of you. Make sure that whatever you put forward is an honest, informative and memorable representation of who you are as a professional.

Learn more about how to get the most from your LinkedIn profile 

October 2021
October 2021

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