When candidates show initiative

Every recruiter or resourcer wants that ‘great candidate who really stands out’ so how do you find them? And how do candidates make themselves stand out, especially when faced with a standard online application format via an ATS?

Ella buildingA brilliant example of this is Ella Monti who not only showcased her creative portfolio of work but also her creative ability to think outside the box when applying to her dream agency – in this case M&C Saatchi. The QR code on the building poster led to her own imaginative application site. This is a graduate who used her lunchtime breaks from her day job to think how to gain attention in the increasingly competitive world of advertising and design. (No news yet on whether she has been hired but I hope that she at least got an interview for her efforts).

It goes without saying that her inventive approach to her application could not have worked for any traditional ATS system and even a video application would not have done her justice in this case. And whilst this may be an exceptional situation in a creative, vibrant world how can any other candidate stand out when they are applying for a job?

A recent Forbes article featured other successful (and some less so) creative steps job applicants have taken to get noticed.  The use of stunts needs to be well thought out and appropriate to your target audience – the hiring managers in your sector.

The bottom line advice is ‘Does this help to exemplify my skills and experience? If the answer is no, then don’t do it’.

Personal brandThe rise of the Personal Brand is also important, especially if a candidate is well established or a leader in their field. People are often good at talking about their projects or work (both excellent indicators of capability for any application) but they sometimes hold back on promoting themselves. Candidates need to think about their profile online, especially on LinkedIn and other social media sites, and they need to consider sharing good news stories. Personal branding can help candidates really stand out. And if you are not sure where to start with this, there is even a cheat sheet from the clever producers of the Dummies guides.

As we are considering exceptional candidates aiming to stand out from the competition for their dream job, why not consider what may be your dream job with a little blue sky thinking? While a chocolate taster or a Ferrari test driver might not appeal to everyone, we should not hold ourselves back from aiming for the top.

Whatever  vacancy a candidate is applying for, preparation and research are key.  Tailor your resume to each job application and make sure that you include as much relevant information as you can, even for an online application. Think carefully about what prospective employers are looking for in a candidate. And as a parallel, employers should think carefully about their candidate experience, especially when applicants are putting so much time and effort in to applying to your company.

So as this year draws to a close and the rounds of predictions or resolutions for 2014 start, why not make one of these a commitment to be the best you can in a competitive world – whatever your aspirations or goals?


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