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What Employers Are Looking For In Candidates And How To Stand Out As The Best Option

April 12 2024 - In 2024, it's more important than ever for candidates to understand what employers want and how to position themselves as the ideal hire. Knowing how to highlight the right skills, experiences, and attributes can make all the difference in standing out from the crowd. This article explores what recruiters and hiring managers prioritise when evaluating applicants and provides tips on excelling in the recruitment process.

Core Competencies and Technical Skills

One of the first things employers look for is whether a candidate has the baseline competencies to perform the essential duties of the role. This includes having the right educational background and technical skills. For example, an accounting position would require knowledge of accounting principles and experience using specific programs. A business leadership position may require candidates to have an MBA. St Mary's University has online MBA programmes that develop core business competencies. In your application, specify how you meet the position's technical requirements.

Soft Skills and Cultural Fit

In addition to technical expertise, employers highly value soft skills like communication, collaboration and critical thinking. Conveying these interpersonal qualities and showing how you’ve applied them is key. Employers also assess whether a candidate is a good cultural fit. Highlighting shared values and enthusiasm for the company’s mission makes a strong impression. Use the cover letter and interview to showcase both your soft skills and cultural alignment.

Proven Track Record

When evaluating applicants, employers dig into their background and past performance. Concrete examples of achievements in previous roles offer proof points that a candidate can deliver results in this position, too. Pull out relevant metrics, awards and anecdotes that demonstrate qualities like leadership, initiative and ability to drive progress. Be prepared to discuss the scope of projects you’ve tackled and the impact you’ve made.

Growth Mindset and Willingness to Learn

No matter your experience level, convey a growth mindset oriented towards continuous improvement. Employers need team members who are excited to keep honing their skills and soak up new knowledge. Emphasise your self-motivation to learn on the job and develop professionally. Share examples of training programs or certifications you’ve undertaken to showcase initiative.

Strategies to Stand Out

Beyond checking the core boxes, how can you stand out from the competition? One approach is researching the company and role extensively so you can ask thoughtful questions that show your engagement. Engaging with hiring managers and recruiters on LinkedIn differentiates you as well. Another strategy is sending a follow-up note after the interview reiterating your interest and fit. Small gestures to personalise your application also make an impression, like incorporating themes from the company’s branding.

The interview is a pivotal chance to stand out by arriving extremely well prepared. Practice your answers to common questions exhaustively. Develop examples and talking points to illustrate your qualifications and avoid rambling responses. Bring extra copies of any presentation materials and take notes during the conversation. Send each interviewer a personalised thank you note afterwards touching again on your qualifications.

Getting hired relies not just on hitting the minimum requirements, but going above and beyond to show why you’re the ideal candidate. Do your research, showcase the right competencies and emphasise fit. Follow best practices for applications and interviews. With preparation and savvy positioning, you can stand out from the pack and become the #1 choice for the job.

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