02 January 2019
How to make your application stand out during the busiest month of the year

More job applications are made in January than any other month of the year, so how can you make sure you stand out from the crowd?

Applying for a job

The festive period has come and gone, with Wednesday marking the first day most of us are back in the office. It may take a while to get back into the swing of things, but over the Christmas break many a head will have been turned, and with the arrival of January comes the sudden flurry of job applications as resolutions, recommitments and fear of missing out all come into play.

If you’re one of the many who have decided that 2019 will start with a career move, you could be facing tough competition – so how can you make your application stand out?

Mix up your CV

How long has it been since you changed jobs? It could be six months or six years but whatever the answer, your skills, the job market and employer expectations will have changed, and so should your CV. Whilst it goes without saying that you should always update the content so that it remains current and relevant, you should also consider the format of your application. CVs are traditionally presented in a standard lateral format, but as most are now read online, it may be worth considering that your CV could be scanned in an F format. If that is the case, you’ll certainly want to avoid putting anything too crucial in the bottom right corner.

One way to draw attention to all areas of your CV, and to make it easier to digest is to arrange it into columns. Short, narrow volumes of text are more likely to be read – it’s why newspapers are laid out in the way they are. Making your application visually appealing is a sure way to make it stand out.

Do your research

If you’re serious about looking for a new job, you’ll probably find yourself applying to several vacancies. It can be tempting to send off the same application to all of the jobs you’re applying for, but that’s a surefire way to get lost amongst the pile of other viable candidates. Take your time to research the business and make sure this is reflected in your CV.

Tailor your skills

In order to sell yourself effectively, you must first understand what the employer is looking for. Read the job advert carefully; what skills and experiences are they looking for in particular? How can you demonstrate that you have the necessary qualifications? Don’t fall into the trap of simply listing the talents asked for; instead try to make sure you detail your experience, explain what you have learned and how it would help you in the prospective vacancy.

Always include a cover letter

Given that the average CV is thought to be looked at for five to seven seconds, you could be forgiven for thinking that including a cover letter is a waste of time, as it may never even be read. However, the simple fact of including a cover letter shows the employer that you have put effort into your application and not including the letter means you’re missing out on an opportunity to sell yourself and show off your skills.

End on a high

As recruiters we’re all too familiar with the most common end to a CV – ‘References are available upon request’. We know that you have previous experience, so it would be a real red flag if you were unable to produce any references. Why waste this crucial, final bit of space on a sentence which could be found on any number of other applications? End your CV with something which is as strong as the beginning and you are bound to stand out.