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4 ways to set yourself apart during your job search

Vaco blog - Standing out during your job search

You’ve finally decided: it’s time to look for a new job.

You’ve spruced up your resume, updated your headshot, and scoured the job boards for opportunities that sound promising. You’ve submitted a handful of applications, but received only tepid responses—if you even get a response at all. You’ve got a sneaking suspicion that you’re getting lost in a sea of other applicants. 

So what’s the solution? How can you set yourself apart during the job search?

The talent solutions experts at Vaco are passionate about helping candidates put their best foot forward and land their dream roles. We’re also local job market specialists who are dedicated to helping candidates navigate the space between leaving one job and finding the next one. 

Below, we’ve compiled some of our best advice and tips for standing out during a job search—and highlighting your best qualities as a top candidate. 

Brush up on your cover letter strategy

Don’t discount the importance of the cover letter during your job application process. It’s a candidate’s true first impression on a hiring manager and can make an applicant immediately stand out—even if skills or experience aren’t robust.   

The easiest way to craft a powerful, attention-grabbing cover letter? Be relevant! Tailor your cover letter to the specific job you’re applying to; list the skills and experiences in your arsenal that make you a great fit. Reference relevant achievements or successes you hope to emulate in this new role.

In addition to keeping things relevant, you should also get straight to the point. The ideal length for a cover letter is a single page, so make sure you edit for concision and clarity before you hit send.

Show your work

The old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” applies to more than just art—it applies to job searches, too. Candidates who can both talk about and show their relevant work experience have an immediate advantage over candidates who can only speak about past projects. 

Some easy ways for candidates to showcase relevant work on their resumes?

  • Candidates in creative fields can provide hiring managers with links to online portfolios of their work.
  • Developers can provide links to code repositories (like Github or Bitbucket) to show sample code they’ve created. 
  • Candidates who have served on industry panels or done guest spots on podcasts can provide links to segments or videos to further highlight their expertise. 

Recent graduates or people switching industries may not have official projects to display, but they can still build an online portfolio using work they’ve done independently, at school, or through internships. 

Check out the rest of Diane’s tips for crafting a standout resume

Nail your virtual interview(s)

The COVID-19 pandemic completely changed how companies and hiring managers recruit, interview, and hire new employees. The virtual world is now the primary space where candidates meet and engage with potential employers, so it’s vital for job seekers to perfect the nuances of video interviews.

Vaco has conducted countless virtual interviews with talented candidates, and we’ve compiled a handful of our tried-and-true tips for making a great (and memorable) impression:

  • Test your internet connection and device settings at least 30 minutes before your interview is scheduled to start
  • Adjust your webcam and lighting before your interview begins to ensure you are centered and well-lit from the start
  • Remove distractions from the space around you: close doors and windows, turn off televisions and radios, and do your best to make sure pets and children are occupied during your interview time
  • Choose professional attire, similar to what you might wear to an in-person interview

Acing an online job interview can be a huge plus for candidates, especially when companies are conducting multiple virtual interviews per day—often with candidates who struggle with video chatting technology and virtual interview etiquette. 

Read the rest of our tips for nailing a virtual interview

Consider working with a recruiter

The job hunt is tough enough without navigating a sea of uncertainties about your industry, the companies you’re applying to, and salary negotiations. Candidates who work with recruiters have a resource who is directly connected with the company and role they’re applying for. As a result, they’re more prepared, and they know more about the position and the organization throughout the interview process. 

Not only can recruiters connect candidates with their dream roles at their dream companies, they can serve as advocates and local market experts. This is true even when a candidate isn’t actively looking for a job. 

Candidates who find a trusted recruiter—one who takes the time to get to know them and truly understand their career goals—are one step ahead when it’s time to make a professional move. And they often find that great job opportunities are brought to them, rather than the other way around. 

In a recent blog post, Vaco recruiter Chris “Spinman” Spintzyk emphasized how great recruiters do more than fill open positions—they build relationships:

“Any good recruiter is not interested in a transaction. They’re interested in a relationship. We want to know who you are, what drives you, where you want to be…so that we can help you find the right opportunity,” Spintzyk said. 

When you work with a recruiter during a job search, you immediately know more about the process than a candidate who’s going it alone. And that by itself is enough to make you stand out. 

Learn the truth behind 4 common myths about working with recruiters

Get started on your next professional adventure

The job search can make great candidates feel like they’re being evaluated solely on keywords and surface-level questions on online applications. It can feel nearly impossible to cut through the noise and make an impression. 

Vaco is dedicated to helping amazing candidates get the spotlight they deserve and land the jobs of their dreams. We’re also passionate about freeing great candidates from the chains of stressful and uncertain job searches. 

Whether you’re just starting out in your career, switching industries, or searching for your next executive opportunity, Vaco’s experienced recruiters can help you showcase your best qualities to the very best companies.

Visit our job seeker portal to submit your resume, see current job openings, or explore more candidate resources.


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