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Glenford Smith | How to make your job application stand out

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM

From time to time job seekers may worry about how they can make their job application stand out and stand apart from the large numbers they compete against. With the increase in competitiveness, this is a very valid concern. This article looks at some of those factors which gives you the edge in a fierce job market.

When the competition is hot, it is a waste of time to submit a standard version of your application. You have to aim at something special that will grab the reader's attention, and make them take notice of you. How can you engage and overcome your competition - that has to be your aim. You have to make the task of your resume and cover letter very clear - to stand out from the crowd.

First thing to bear in mind is that your resume doesn't necessarily get seen first by a human being. Many workplaces use a computer to preliminarily scan the huge responses to a job invitation. If it's someone who does it, that person may have time for only a twenty second scan, unless they see something that stands out to them, it automatically goes to the bottom never to be seen again.

This brings to mind the second thing you must bear in mind, and it's that what you have to offer has to match up with what the employer wants. And this has to come across straightaway. So the question you must ask yourself is, which of my attributes will the employer find most compelling?

One surprising place to find what the employer is looking for is in the advertisements they put out, inviting applications for the jobs. You just have know what to look for. The clues are right there in the advertisement or the website. What signs are you to look for?

Pay attention to: "The ideal candidate should have..."; "This position calls for someone with ... "; or "Successful applicants must satisfy the following ... " You won't believe it, but here you actually have employers telling you what they want to see. It looks simple, yet most candidates overlook it.

Instead, they fill up their application with what they think the employer is looking for or what they think he should look for. Never do that. As in sales, only sell what the employer is buying.

There is another reason for using the clues in the advertisement. You see the language and the phrases that are used. Don't be verbose and highfalutin. Use back those same phrases and words in your application. When you use their words, employers hear echoes of their own thinking in what you write. It gets your strong points across immediately, whereas your choice of words might not be as impactful.

And finally, you can learn more about the company by going on the Internet. You can find out more from the company's website, which almost all companies now have. You may even be able to get some insight into the company's culture. This will help you to form an appreciation of what qualities they value in an employee. You may highlight that in your resume. If you do these things, you will stand out, not necessarily like a sore thumb, but like a rose among thorns.

- Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. Email: