From a hirer: What makes a job applicant stand out

February 5, 2023

I know what you job seekers are thinking - why should I spend more than 3 minutes on a single job application for a company that won't even respond?

To answer that question, I'll tell you what moves someone right to the top of my candidate list when I'm looking for talent, all but guaranteeing some kind of response and maybe even an interview.

Personalized outreach

They send me a custom email, or a custom direct message expressing their interest in why they want to work at my company specifically.

They send me a custom message clarifying why they think they're the best fit for this position given their background, and how they can add value right away.

Relevant experience

When looking at their resume, it's clear within 10 seconds that their resume is directly relevant to the role that they're applying to. If I can't tell how you're a fit right away, you're not.

That's why you shouldn't apply to 3 completely different unrelated roles in one company.

Excitement shines through

If the application asks for a resume, and a cover letter (or intro message) and the cover letter is optional, they still fill it out. This shows excitement about the role+company.

They follow up with me as quickly as possible when I ask them for more information, or a meeting (again showing that they're excited for the role, that they are prompt, and that they respect the time of the organization that's likely talking to multiple candidates).

Here's the reality for many job seekers

Less than 1% of applicants send a custom message.

Less than 10% of candidates pay attention to the job they're applying to, to make sure it's actually a fit.

Less than 1 % of applicants follow up to their initial applicationLess than 25% of candidates have a LinkedIn profile that's directly relevant to the job they are hoping to land.

Less than 25% of candidates have a LinkedIn profile that has any kind of detail that can excite a hiring manager.

If you do put the time into an application for a job you actually care about getting, you'll be in the top 99th percentile of candidates, meaning that you'll start seeing a much higher response rate from the organizations you apply to.

If you're frustrated and not seeing results from your efforts, you might need to adjust your perspective. People who have the best jobs spend hours on a single job application, and they do this because they know that it gets results.

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