More often than not, you will not be the only candidate applying for a role. In most cases your resume lies on a stack with hundreds more. So how do you make sure your application stands out from the rest?
1. Your Resume
Your resume is often the first point of contact with a potential employer or recruiter so it needs to immediately stand out and leave a great impression. Make sure it is current and provides just the right amount of information to spark an interest without flooding the reader in detail. There is no need to list every course you completed in the past 20 years! Ensure that you list your work history in chronological order, with most recent listed first. Include dates of tenure, job title and company name. Other important details to mention specific to the care sector is the size of your past organisation(s), how many beds and if they are profit or not-for-profit. It is crucial that your resume has no spelling or grammatical errors. These errors really do stand out for all the wrong reasons.
Most recruiters and hiring manager will have a general understanding of the job they are recruiting for and similar roles in the sector. This means that there is no need to provide a full list of responsibilities for each role you have had. However, what IS important and makes your resume stand out is listing a couple of your most important results and achievements in each role. Describe them in the STAR way (Situation, Task, Action, Result) and be specific to your part in the achievement.
Read our previous blog post Resume Template and Tips for more handy advice and an easy to use resume template.
2. Cover it all in your cover letter
The cover letter gives you the opportunity to “talk” to the hiring manager or recruiter and highlight why you are the perfect candidate for the job. Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager and really think about what they are looking for. Do your research into the company and refer back to the job description and key competencies for that role and ensure you match your experience to selection criteria. List any relevant key achievements, qualifications or activities that demonstrate your ability to perform effectively in this role. If you have transferable skills, highlight these. The hiring manager needs a clear picture in their mind about how you can perform in the role. Try and keep it to one page! Save some of your winning attributes for your interview, the cover letter is meant to “wet the reader’s appetite”.
3. Back it up with a LinkedIn Profile and recommendations
LinkedIn is THE social network for professionals. It is safe to assume that the person who will be interviewing you has a LinkedIn profile. One of the great things about LinkedIn, is that you have the ability to ask colleagues, co-workers or customers for a recommendation which can then be displayed on your profile. Use this feature in combination with your hard-copy resume to stand out. For example, select a portion of a relevant testimonial from your LinkedIn profile and include it in your resume with a sentence saying: read the full testimonial on my LinkedIn Profile. The great advantage of this option in LinkedIn, is that it keeps historic testimonials and recommendations from former employers, managers, colleagues, who over time may retire or move on and you lose touch with.
4. Make that phone call
If the hiring manager or recruiter has provided their contact details in the job posting, it is advised that you contact them as this will give you the opportunity to “sell” yourself before they read your resume. It may just give you that edge needed to secure an interview and the role. Make sure to prepare some valid questions that are specific to the role or company. If you are requesting information about the salary package on offer, be gentle and ask for a broad salary range.
When calling, say your name clearly and the reason you’re calling before diving into your questions. If you are still interested in the job after the phone call, follow up with your official application that same day. Refer to the phone call you had in your cover letter so that the person reading your application will recall your conversation, and if you have made the right impression over the phone – you will go to the top of the short-list!
5. Use your recruiter the right way
If you are applying for a job using a recruitment agency, you will also have to put in the effort to stand out. The Recruitment consultant will assist you and present you in a professional manner that really highlights your skills and achievements. Recruitment Consultants will often include a short summary about the candidates they put forward highlighting relevant expertise and achievements, which they will have learnt from your initial screening call or interview. Ensure your recruiter knows about any career highlights/ awards/ recommendations you have received!
Do you have any other tips that helped you stand out for a job interview? Let us know in the comments below!
Ready to start a new career? Browse our current job vacancies.
Like this article? Sign up to our occasional care career newsletter and you’ll never miss a post.