From The Straits Times    |


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When applying for a job, you don’t just want to get noticed. You want to stand out as one of the best candidates the company has ever seen. After all, competition is keen and for coveted positions, you need to go the extra mile to gain an edge over the other applicants. So how do you differentiate yourself from the rest in the crowd and win the attention of your future employers? Read on.


1. Use a professionally-shot profile picture


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Save your selcas for your social media accounts and keep your LinkedIn profile picture professional, smart and decent. Before meeting you face-to-face, your online profile is the one your future employers will look at and yes, first impression counts.

You’ll definitely want to look like the reliable next staff they would hire. These days, you can conveniently head to any photo studio to get yours taken for a small fee. Otherwise, you can also DIY!


2. Send a creative package


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Almost every HR staff goes through hundreds of similar resumes every day thus you might want to think about how you can make yours more prominent. Apart from designing a visually attractive resume (printed on coloured paper, for example), you can go one step ahead and send a package to your prospective employer.

Some quirky but cute examples that worked well for some others include attaching a resume to a pizza box, creating a LEGO character for a job application at LEGO, and more. It’s important to do your research — send something that shows off your skills for that particular job you are applying for, instead of random stabs in the dark. Get inspired!


3. Amaze them with a curated portfolio


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All talk and no action is a big no no. Take the time to do up some personal projects or put together some works that you’re proud of, and include that along with your resume and cover letter. This helps the recruiter or potential employer get a sense of your personal style and creative capabilities. You can even create mini powerpoint slides on the top five things you learned from your previous roles or simply anything that allows your skills to shine. Remember, you have the freedom to create and creativity has no limits.


4. Get a referral


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If you know someone working in the company you’re interested in, try getting a referral. Having someone put in a good word for you is the best way to the hiring manager to give your resume a closer look and increase your chances of scoring an interview. You can easily check out the company and see who you’re connected with through LinkedIn. When asking for a referral, do it politely and in writing.

Try asking this way: “Do you feel you know my work well enough to refer me for a job at your company?” or “Do you feel you could give me a referral?” If the person comes through, remember to attach the referral letter to your cover letter.



5. Preparation is key


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If you follow our steps above, you’ll land interviews. Always prepare for them — which means do your research — and never go empty-handed. Bring along your resume and portfolio so the interviewers can refer to them during the interview. It’ll help you form a good impression. Make sure you do your homework on the organisation — such as its background, mission, clients and projects — and the role you’re applying for. Again, make sure the portfolio you bring displays suitable skills to the job requirements.


6. Ask the right questions


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Instead of just listening to the interviewers speak, make sure you ask (relevant) questions too. It’s your chance to be curious so don’t be shy. Ask about job progression, working hours, how big the team is and what attributes they feel an ideal candidate should have, to name a few. You may think that it’s scary, but trust us, it’ll reflect well on you and show that you are communicative and are willing to take the initiative.

Asking questions can also spark more conversations, which may give you further insights into the work environment and more. If you’re uncertain, you can start with these questions that’ll never go wrong.


7. Say your ‘Thank you-s’


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Make sure you send out a ‘Thank You’ email — no later than 24 hours after the interview — to show that you appreciate your interviewers’ time. These small gestures may seem ‘basic’ but not everyone will go through the trouble to do it. Regardless of how the interview turned out, be sure to practise this. Keep the email short, sweet and sincere.

To ensure it doesn’t seem cookie-cutter, personalise it by mentioning a conversation that happened during the interview. Take the opportunity to reinforce your interest and enthusiasm in the position and company and make sure to highlight why you feel you’d be a good fit.