There are 1.47 million people out of work in the UK and the unemployment rate is currently growing more quickly than it has in almost five years. How can job seekers become more creative in their approach to finding work? One opportunity is the first impression you make. 

For example, Quinnstheprinters recently ran a competition for job-seeking students. The winner’s artwork would appear on a billboard in a city of their choice so they could display their talents to potential employers. The winner of their competition was Keighley Hand, a freelance graphic designer. As a result of the billboard, she has since received message after message from intrigued design agencies and tripled her website views.

Of course, this sort of opportunity doesn’t come up too often. We don’t think it’s completely crucial to your job search to display your talents at billboard size to be appealing to an employer. In fact, you can stand out to employers in much simpler ways.

Have a look at our five top tips on making a great first impression and being a candidate your interviewers will remember:

Do your research

ResearchEmployers often get inundated with applications. If your cover letter is just like all the others, it is unlikely you will turn heads. Show that you understand the company you are applying to if you want your cover letter to stand out.

Most companies have an ‘about us’ section on their website. Before you write your cover letter, have a look and then figure out how to incorporate it into your letter. What are the company values and how can you relate to them? They are more likely to sit up and take notice if you show you are in line with the mission of the company.

For example, many employers describe a standout application as one that offers specific examples of how your skill set matches both the job description and the overall aims of the company.

Get to the point

CVs can often drag on for pages, without really getting to the point of what the candidate is looking for or what they have to offer the business. The last thing you want is for the recruiter to fall asleep halfway through reading it, so you need to offer something a little special. A good way to do this is to start off with your profile and highlight any special achievements or growth.

Most candidates will say things like ‘I manage social media for clients’, however, they don’t focus on the results. Using social media as an example, the employer is more likely to take notice if you say something like ‘you helped a client grow their Twitter followers by 100% in two months.’ Show the employers your results, growth and customise it for each business you are applying to.

Minimise interview stress

Employers are searching for someone who is confident and capable. Being a bundle of nerves doesn’t typically create the best impression of your abilities. So make a few changes to your standard interview prep to give yourself the best chance.

Take a bag and a coat, and avoid any unnecessary clutter which may come between you and offering your best introductory handshake. You don’t want to be battling with your stack of notes, water bottle, phone and earphones when the hiring manager finally calls your name.

job interviewersAlso, be careful of how you position yourself in the meeting room. There are a hundred and one different articles about your interview body language. But if you are of a nervous disposition, you shouldn’t bother yourself with ‘authoritative’ hand gestures. Instead, minimise your stress indicators to make a better first impression. For example, if you are a leg shaker, plant both feet firmly on the ground. If your hands shake, clasp them together. You might be feeling jittery but the key is not to show it.

Get social

There are many employers who check the social media accounts of candidates before an interview. They will expect to see you there. Employers want to see that you are positive and you don’t engage in any negative behaviours on social media. Above this, if you want to go the extra mile, showcase your experience and interest in your industry of choice.

For example, if you are an artist like Quinnstheprinters’ winner Keighley, you might post pictures of your artwork on Instagram and interact with other graphic designers there. Or, if you are in the marketing industry, you might tweet your opinions on new campaigns or retweet content you have created for a client.

Key connections

If you’re already invested in the industry you’re trying to find a new job within, use the connections you have made to help your search.

Personal Learning Network

You might ask a past coworker, or a freelancer you had previously worked with about new opportunities coming up that you have otherwise not heard about so that you know to apply. Get them to recommend you. Of course, you will have to showcase your skills and personality at the interview, but it can help to have a referral from a trusted individual.

If you’re a little untethered in the industry of your choice, you may consider the importance of networking on and offline. The effects of a conversation at an event, or an insightful comment on someone’s social media post, are difficult to forecast and even more so to measure. However,  they do have the potential to make you more memorable to someone in the hiring seat.

There is no need to use gimmicks to get yourself noticed while you search for a new job. However, it is important for employers to see what skills you have and to understand why you would be an asset to their company. Improve your first impression and you increase your chances of success in your job search.

Thanks for this post go to our friend Laura McLoughlin, a Digital PR Consultant with Glaze Digital.