How to differentiate yourself from other candidates

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Differences.

The planet is full of them. The world would be a very uninspiring and monotonous place if we didn’t appreciate and love all things varied. So why is it, when we are applying to a new position, we are so keen to ‘fit the bill’ and not put a foot or quirk out of place?

Granted, we all want to be taken seriously and give a professional account of ourselves within a job interview. However, have you ever thought about what differences you could bring into the process which could stand you in a much more favourable light than your contenders? We’re not talking about turning up to the interview in a neon shell suit, or even telling the interviewer about that weird out-of-body experience you had last summer.

We’re referring to more subtle differences you can include within your job search process that will make the interviewer think twice about you. Here are 3 ways looking at what you could do to accentuate the fact that you are different to others.

Look at what you are wearing and give it a personal twist

Again, put away the shell suit. You may know that most interviewers make a first impression of you within the first 7 seconds. This is very difficult to change once it is made so you will need to think carefully about what you are going to wear and more importantly how you are going to wear it.

You have a great opportunity to put a subtle personal twist on an attire that is so commonly worn by every candidate going to an interview… The humble suit. You are your own personal role model and your personal brand is important. Everyone has skills and experience but not everyone has a unique style. Bring out yours by adding a few accessories that represent who you are

For example, if you are into fashion you could add a quality pocket handkerchief to your suit jacket. The print or pattern should be vivid and could be something personal to you. You could try a tie bar or chain which would draw the interviewers attention to you. Humans love shiny objects. New Scientist (2007) agrees that humans associate shininess and crisp outlines with objectively favourable attributes. It may sounds a little out there, but you could be surprised how more memorable you will become with a subtle bit of bling and contrasting patterns.

Emphasise personal traits that make you unique.

Like we said. Interviewers are likely to see several candidates that may have the right level of experience or skills working within a particular role. But have a good think about how you and your own strengths will help you to execute these skills better.

Maybe you never miss deadlines, or perhaps you are willing to do above and beyond what is asked, maybe you can strongly influence others or simply have a great positive attitude. (Don’t dismiss these traits. Many people have been fired for negative personal traits rather than for lack of knowledge).

Often , these softer transferable skills are the clincher when it comes to hiring managers deciding between candidates. They have a gut feeling that you are a better ‘fit’ even though this really means the way you communicated your skills and experience was with much more conviction and in line with your personal traits. Clever, eh?

Send a ‘thank you’ message to your interviewer

So many candidates know they should be doing this, yet so many forget and underestimate the importance of it. You are demonstrating your thoughtfulness and consideration which is an attractive trait that will keep you at the forefront of the mind of the interviewer.

Here’s what a well-written, personalised thank you note accomplishes following an interview:

  • Demonstrates courtesy towards the interviewer for their time.
  • Reminds the interviewer of you.
  • Reiterates your interest in the position and mentions any highlights of the interview conversation.
  • Provides an opportunity to ask about the next step in the interview process.

Again, be different. Think about how you will send this note of thanks.

What will increase its value? If 5/10 people who were interviewed remember to send a thank you note, how many of them do you think will send the note via an email?

Be different and try a handwritten note sent via post. Make sure you use good quality paper and write a genuine message to the interviewer. This will set you apart, as good old fashioned manners are surprisingly effective in today’s fast paced, impersonal digital environment.

Conclusion

It can be difficult and a little scary to come across different when you are searching for a new job opportunity. There is a fine balance between being the right ‘fit’ yet being unique enough to stand apart from the crowd.

Have a good think about your own personal sense of style, character traits and the value you place on connecting with others. Use this information in your favour when representing yourself. Tell a story about yourself and repeat what others have to say about you. After all, your unique differences could be the deciding factor that may land you that dream role.

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