You’ve polished your resume, breezed through the phone screen, nailed the interview, and written a thank you note. Now, here’s the bad news: you’re up against equally qualified candidates who have done the same. It’s not enough to master the basics. The candidate who gets the job is often the one who is able to identify opportunities to shine that others overlook.
As a recruiter, I place mid- to C-level executives in sales and marketing roles. At that level, you’re likely to be competing against other seasoned professionals for every role, so giving yourself an edge is critical. Here’s how to really stand out from the crowd:
1. Arrive early
As Woody Allen once said, “80 percent of life is showing up.” I would amend that statement to say that 80 percent of life is showing up on time. Or better yet, five minutes early. It’s an easy thing to do, but I can’t overstate the impact that consistent punctuality will have on your career. In a job interview process, your respect for other people’s time is noticed and appreciated.
2. Show some personality
While you always want to maintain professionalism, don’t be afraid to let a little personality come through in your communications with potential employers. Your personal spark might be the reason someone chooses your cover letter out of a pile. All else being equal, people hire those that they like and trust. When you write and speak in your authentic voice, hiring managers can sense your sincerity and feel comfortable that they know the real you.
3. Make your enthusiasm clear
Interviewers aren’t mind readers. You know this is your dream job, but can the interviewer tell? Don’t leave them guessing about how you feel. Many candidates tend to close off a bit during interviews if they are nervous. Instead, allow your passion and enthusiasm to shine through in the words that you choose, your facial expressions, and your tone of voice. When someone asks you why you are interested in the role, it doesn’t hurt to tell them how much you admire the company.
4. Remember personal details about the interviewer
Right after you meet someone, jot down a few notes about your conversation. In your follow up communications, try to include some of these points in a natural way. For example, if the interviewer mentioned a big upcoming client pitch, wish them good luck. This helps the interviewer to remember you and your conversation. When your interviewer is reading through 10 different thank you notes after the first round of interviewers, these personal details will help your message stand out.
5. Be a consummate professional
Sometimes it’s the cumulative effect of doing everything consistently well that helps you to stand out. Every interaction you have with your prospective employer is an opportunity for you to demonstrate professionalism. Whether it’s your punctuality, your prompt follow up after each interview, your attention to detail in your CV and cover letters, or your neat and polished appearance, consistent professionalism allows you to put your stamp on each moment and develop a strong personal brand.
These days, candidates have more tools at their fingertips than ever to help them master the job search process, so it takes more to distinguish yourself in the eyes of employers.
How do you distinguish yourself in the interview process? I invite you to share your go-to tips in the comments below.