When you’re presenting yourself to employers, you want to stand out from the crowd. Some people try to use gimmicks, like pink resume paper or a quirky cover letter. These kinds of attempts nearly always backfire; they scream “I’m trying too hard! I don’t have any other way to stand out!” and discredit your candidacy.
Instead of relying on a gimmick, choose one of these ways to stand out to employers and hop head-and-shoulders over the hundreds of “uniquely qualified” candidates.
Prove You’re Serious With A Professional Website
The first thing a hiring manager is going to do, when he or she is interested in your candidacy, is search your name. Yes, you need a LinkedIn account and a professional-looking Facebook page, but every candidate is going to have one of those. Go a step further by having your own professional website be the very first hit an employer sees, when searching your name online.
Either design your website yourself, or use a service like About.me to create a professional website. Make sure the site includes your contact information, a flattering photo, a resume, and a portfolio of your work as applicable.
Illustrate Your Career With A Graphical Resume
You’ll want to give a standard, 1-to-2 page resume as part of your application. However, you also want to include a graphical resume as part of your professional website. A graphical website helps you make connections between areas of your career that aren’t immediately visible on a standard written resume. Designer Michael Anderson used a graphical resume to show how his work history tracked with his growth in skills, as well as how much time he spends every day working in different design applications.
A graphical resume is a good way to show employers that your skills match their needs. It’s easy to leave the words “increased sales by 50%” on a resume, but hiring managers will better process that information in a colorful bar graph or chart. Create a graphical resume, then make it a key part of your professional website.
Answer The “Strengths And Weaknesses” Questions With A Personal Review
You know those tried-and-true interview questions you’re going to get asked? Hit the bar out of the gate in advance by adding a personal review component to your professional website. A good personal review is positive, and clearly shows both your strengths as well as the areas in which you’re working towards improvement. Brand.com reviews are good examples of deftly placed profiles that also serve as online reputation management.
The purpose of the personal review is to show employers that you are, in fact, a person; that you understand how to work well with others (perhaps by illustrating an example of how you handled conflict in the workplace), and that you are aware of both your strengths and your weaknesses.
Draft a personal review, and show it to a handful of friends before posting it online. Then make sure it’s a link on your professional website.
Show Them You’re A Team Player By Learning An Industry Sport
As we noted earlier, many industries have associated sports- Silicon Valley and biking or Washington, D.C. and softball, for example. Learn that sport, include it in the hobbies/interests line of your resume, and add it as part of your professional website with a link to a few photos of you in action. The more an employer can picture you as part of the team, the more likely you are to get hired.
It’s worth noting that all five of these strategies hinge on you developing a polished, professional website. This is one of the most important ways you can set yourself out from other candidates, but it also requires you to get past the initial hurdle of the job hunt: for a hiring manager to search your name or find your website, he or she has to cull your resume out of the stacks first.
If that isn’t happening, you need to rethink your job strategy, expand your network, and practice other general job hunt guidelines. That way, once a hiring manager pulls your resume out of the pile, you’ll be ready to go.
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