December 16, 2016 BestCompaniesAZ

How Job Applicants Can Really Stand Out

A common complaint shared by many job applicants is that they never receive a response to their application. In fact, according to the 2015 CareerBuilder Candidate Behavior Study only 14% of job applicants feel that companies are responsive. On the flip side, 29% of employers feel there are simply too many candidates to respond to. So what can an applicant do to increase their chances of getting noticed?

Here are 5 things a job applicant can do to rise to the top of the pile:

  1. Follow the process:  Employers have procedures in place for a reason: to keep their hiring processes fair and simple for all involved.  For example, when I meet potential candidates at job fairs or networking events I will give them my card and ask them to apply online first, then reach out to me so I can connect them with the right recruiter. At Schwab, this is a must as we need prospects to apply before we can interview them.  I’ll often receive an email from a candidate with their resume attached, but find no application in the system. This creates extra work and follow up for me, and more importantly shows that they don’t follow directions. It might seem like a small thing, but recruiters notice when their instructions are not followed!
  2. Proofread, and then proofread again!:  Most applicants know to proofread and spell check their resume and cover letter, but what they don’t realize is that every single communication a recruiter receives is under scrutiny. From social media profiles to emails, typos and poor grammar affect your personal brand and can cause you to stand out – for the wrong reasons. I’ve even heard of applicants including a note “sorry for any typos, this email was sent from my phone” in their email signature! Just as recruiters notice when your communications have errors, we also notice when you showcase your communication skills by only sending thoughtfully written, grammatically correct messages free of typos.
  3. Personalize everything: There is nothing that gets my attention at a career fair like a potential applicant approaching me and saying: “Shannon, I am here to see YOU! I am interested in Schwab because of ABC and I’m here to talk to you about the XYZ position.” This bold approach is often followed by the applicant handing me a personalized cover letter and a resume clearly targeted at both Schwab and the role they desire.  It’s all in the details, and that extends to LinkedIn requests or emails.  While it’s quick and easy to send the generic “join my professional network” request, it only takes a few seconds to glance at a recruiters profile and comment on something of interest. I often receive requests where connections mention that they enjoy my blog posts. I always accept those requests, and am more likely to help someone that went out of their way to research who I am.
  4. Know the company, inside and out: At some point in an interview process, most candidates will be asked “Why this company? What do you know about us?”  This is a question that you simply cannot afford to stumble over!  My blog “Want to Ace the Interview? Be a Know it All” featured input from several Schwab Talent Advisors on just how important this question is.   Do your research, and practice your answer so the recruiter can sense your connection to the company.
  5. Be Memorable: From whacky nicknames to songs to photos on resumes to custom phone numbers, applicants often go out of their way to be remembered! In my nearly of 5 years of community and campus recruiting, I sometimes feel I have seen it all! A crazy shtick might get you remembered, but will it get you hired?  It all boils down to purpose.  Are you just trying to get a reaction, or show who you really are?  I can recall a candidate that changed his LinkedIn headline to “Actively seeking a career with Charles Schwab”.  This happened several years ago, but I still remember him, and for the right reasons. When I noticed this, I immediately sent the recruiter a note and asked them to reach out to the candidate. Social media is a great way to leave an impression! When an applicant comments on or shares a post, I will typically go the extra mile to help them along.

There are many ways to get noticed by a recruiter, but sometimes the simple things have just as much impact as crazy antics, and usually with a better result!  Safeguard your brand and show how you fit a company’s culture at every step in the process and you will be on your way to your next career home.
About the Author: Shannon Grimes is a Phoenix-based talent attraction manager for Schwab, and her work focuses on connecting with job seekers at networking events, information sessions and career fairs.

This post by Shannon Grimes originally appeared on the Schwab Career Investments Blog. Re-posted with permission. Learn more about Schwab’s Phoenix office and career opportunities here.