How to make your job application stand out

How to make your job application stand out

Applied for a job and never heard back? You’re not alone.

There’s an abundance of online application sources. Most of them suck. As an employer, you might post a role on one platform, which will be parlayed onto other platforms for reach. It’s like a game of telephone with your job application.

The problem? You didn’t get a callback. But you’re well-qualified for the role, so why aren’t you getting the response you’d expect? What’s the best way to apply for a job online and get a response?

Let’s peel this back a bit.

You’re one of 250+ candidates

One click to apply has plagued the job search. Applying for a role without putting in much (if any) work means more people will apply. Most job listings get 250+ applicants, and only 4-6 will get interviewed.

LinkedIn, and most job search boards, make it too easy. You create a profile that includes your resume, so you can spam apply to jobs. How to apply for a job on Linkedin? Easy. One click.

Furthermore, employers use software to prioritize candidates. Recruiters don’t have time to review 250+ resumes while overseeing 5-10 roles, so they use AI or software to prioritize the list.

The result? AI is not perfect, and you didn’t get a callback.

Let’s talk about the solution.

Stand out from the pack

Winners find a way to stand out. You’re a winner, so you’ll find a way, and we’ll help.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a recruiter or a hiring manager. Their job is to find excellent candidates as quickly as possible. If they find one perfect candidate, that might be all they need. So, make it easy for them by separating yourself from the pack (because you’re that perfect candidate).

We’ve spent years as the hiring manager, so we know what makes candidates stand out. Here are some tips to help you get an interview:

Get a referral

Look at your network. Do you know anyone who works at the company or is connected with someone who works there? Reach out to them. See if they’d be willing to discuss the role so you can display why you’d be a good fit. Most people won’t vouch for just anyone, so you need to gain their confidence.

Most companies use applicant tracking systems, such as Greenhouse or Rippling. Employees can submit a referral for an open position through these platforms, and that will usually notify the recruiter or hiring manager, who will then prioritize the referral.

Even better, if they introduce you directly to the hiring manager, you’re in. This is the best way to skip the queue of applicants.

This is also why you should stay in touch with former colleagues. Your network is an asset that you should nurture.

Send the hiring manager an email

People will respond to things that feel like they were personalized and thoughtful. There are a few ways you can do this, starting with email.

You can find the hiring manager’s email (there are plenty of sources to pull emails. We like, connect with them on LinkedIn, and send them a thoughtful email. 

Outline why you’re interested in the role and uniquely qualified to excel in it. Something like this:

“Hi [Hiring Manager],

I’d like to introduce myself as a candidate for XYZ position.

I spent a few hours researching the company and role, and find my passion for XYZ and experience at XYZ makes me uniquely qualified to excel in it.

I worked on XYZ project at XYZ company, where we solved a similar problem to what’s been outlined in this job description.

I’d love to schedule an interview with you to discuss further. When is a good time for us to meet? My availability is XYZ.

Your Name”

Spin this however you’d like, but here are my guiding principles:

  1. Tie your accomplishments to the problems that the role solves. Listing irrelevant accomplishments will make it seem like you care more about yourself than the role.
  2. Keep it punchy. Long-winded emails are likely to get archived because people have short attention spans.
  3. Have a clear call to action. Ask them to meet. Your chances are higher if you’re the first person to recommend an interview. 

Send the hiring manager a video

Want to stand out? Send them a video. You can use Loom to record and edit it.

The video is effectively a voiceover of the email, but you can add your flavor and personality to it. Most importantly, it shows that you went above and beyond. Here’s an example I made to help get your gears turning. It’s not perfect, but hopefully you get the point.

Now look, there are a few directions you can take with this, depending on the role. You have the ability to show your face and anything on the computer (could be previous work examples). Regardless, what you want to do is demonstrate your expertise and show how excited you are about the position.

Most hiring managers will see that you like to go above and beyond based on this effort. That’s a good thing.

Do the work before you get the job

If you put together some work – whether demonstrated in the video, on a white paper, or on a deck – where you show how you would approach the role, you will stand out.

Every role has a “job to be done.” That’s why they’re hiring in the first place. Take the first few steps of doing that job, document it, and share it.

  • If the role requires you to sell, do a live roleplay or a cold call. Walk them through your sales process.
  • If the role requires you to build product, show examples of work you’ve done in the past. Walk them through your process.
  • If the role requires you to model and forecast, show examples of how you model and forecast.

You get the point.

Once again, you’ll show that you go above and beyond. And you should show them that you know how to do the work (as long as you submit something of quality).

The morale of the story is this: You need to make yourself stand out in a crowd of applicants. Do something different from everyone else, and your odds will increase.

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