Graduation season is upon us - congratulations to every graduate! Whether you are just starting out, looking for new opportunities, or haven’t landed the dream job yet, we are here to help you step up your applications.
Because let’s face it - most CVs and cover letters are pretty boring.
So how do you stand out? Glad you asked. We’ve gathered five ways of standing out to recruiters - with examples!
1. Show your personality
Your CV and cover letter are a reflection of your professional abilities and skills. But they are also the first impression hiring managers get of you. Studies have shown that the match between your personality and organisational culture is essential to your success and time at the company.
So how do you showcase your personality on 2-3 digital pages? Focus on adding these aspects of your personality to your CV and cover letter:
- Hobbies and interests
Adding hobbies to your resume will help recruiters get a full picture of you. Many candidates will have the necessary skills to do the job - but will they also fit the culture?
Here are some examples of interests and hobbies you can add to your CV:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Wikipedia editing
- Art & Design
- Reading (include what you’re currently reading!)
- 3D printing
- Gap Years or Travel Experiences
In the Experience section of your CV, add the gap year or meaningful trip you took. Treat it as if it had been a full-time position, and list your achievements, applied, and learned skills.
- Causes you are passionate about
List these on your CV - or include an “about me” section on your cover letter. These causes could be environmentalism, gender equality, the arts, or animal welfare.
These things will give your potential employer an even better idea of who you are and how well you will fit in. And do not worry about turning off potential employers because of the causes you are passionate about. In the end - would you be happy working for an organisation so misaligned with your own values?
- How would Greta Thunberg describe you?
If you struggle with showcasing your personality, think about how other people would describe you. Add a quote by a fellow student, professor, or manager.
If you want to make it cheeky and a little more fun, add how someone you admire would describe you - like Greta Thunberg. Just make sure it is someone relevant to your interests, the industry, or the position you are applying for!
2. Continue learning - and show how you do it!
You have most likely completed a degree - congratulations! But the skills learned during your university studies are not the end.
Employers value eagerness to learn and develop your skills. It means you are willing to grow with your employer, and that you are willing to continuously provide value.
Some examples of what you could add to your CV or cover letter are:
- Podcasts you listen to
- Blogs you frequent
- Relevant literature and books you are reading
- Online courses you are enrolled in (for example see this list of free online courses from top universities).
3. Highlight results
Whether you have heaps of experience - or are just starting out - you can learn how to demand attention on your CV and cover letter with one simple trick: use measurable results and bullet points. It is that simple!
Most tasks you perform have a specific goal. And it is your job to quantify how well you performed them, and how. Otherwise, how will a hiring manager understand the value you can provide them?
So, it is not enough to only add your responsibility areas - add specific metrics, successes, and tools utilised! This could be:
- Was responsible for newsletter production and distribution - doubled the open rate over 6 months
- Led website architecture redesign - reduced load time by two-second and bounce rate by 16.5%
- Spent 65% of my time utilizing Python, R, and SQL to analyze large volumes of data
If you want to go above and beyond, create a digital portfolio with examples, timelines, budgets, and results!
4. Add suggestions and ideas
Adding suggestions and ideas to your application is not as risky as you may think. Do not worry about whether your ideas miss the mark completely - hiring managers will value your time and effort.
During the job interview, they will most likely ask you similar questions anyway. So why not be at the forefront? Providing examples, ideas and motivation will give your future employer an insight into how you work - and they will most likely appreciate the initiative!
5. Work your network
...you’ve most likely heard this one before. Referrals make up for somewhere between 40 and 70% of hires. But what they don’t tell you is that an estimated 70% of jobs are never even listed - most likely the ones filled through networking.
But how can you find these secret positions? Here are a few ways of finding a job through your network:
- Make sure you tell previous coworkers, fellow students, friends, and family what your skills are and what you are looking for.
- Send unsolicited job applications. Read more on them here.
- Participate in networking events, conferences, and Virtual Career Fairs. Many organisations build their talent pipeline through events and will remember you when they are filling a vacancy.
- Use social networks - find people in your industry/expertise area and connect. Remember to focus on the relationship - don’t make it all about your skills and needs from day one!
There are many ways to stand out to hiring recruiters. Yet not all of them will work on every hiring manager! We hope these tips will help you highlight your personality and showcase what value you will bring to the company.
Best of luck with your applications!