11 Ways To Stand Out When Applying For A Job

In a large pool of job applications, it’s easy to get overlooked. Make the most of your application for a better chance at getting hired.

By Hannah Leah4 min read
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I watched my mother make some hard decisions as a business owner as I was growing up. After several years of hiring and firing, she knew what made someone stand out just by putting in an application. When it came time for me to apply for a job in my teen years, she showed me all the things that would make a difference, and it did. I’ve taken these pieces of advice with me into my adult life, and it’s been extremely beneficial. Give these things a try when you apply for your next job.

1. Apply in Person and Introduce Yourself to the Manager

There are so many options to “apply online” these days, but it’s not always the best route to take. As an introvert, I completely understand the urge to hide behind the computer and hope for the best. But here’s the deal – if you’re one of many applications, there might not be much of a difference on paper (or computer screen) between you and 20 other people. So if you physically walk into the business and introduce yourself to the person in charge, you will stand out. Even if you’re required to apply online, still go into the business and make yourself known. 

When I was a teenager, I applied at a frozen yogurt place, and my mom made me dress up, walk into the store, ask for the owner or person in charge, and introduce myself. I was hesitant because I’m super shy, and it felt kind of overwhelming for a frozen yogurt job, but I got the job on the spot after chatting with the owner. My first shift was that night. When you do this, the employer sees you’re motivated, outgoing, and ambitious.  

2. Dress Well When Turning in the Application

As a follow up to the first piece of advice, dress accordingly when turning in your application. No, it’s not an interview, but it might as well be because you’re making your first impression. Don’t turn in your application and meet the manager while dressed like a bum off the street. Yeah, you took the initiative to meet the person in charge, but now your first impression is someone who looks messy and unprofessional. Wear something business casual or, depending on the job, maybe something dressy. What you wear can tell someone a lot about you and how much you care. 

3. Be Warm and Outgoing

Even if you’re an introvert like myself, step up your game when applying for a job. Something I've learned about myself is that being introverted can be an advantage for professional settings. This is because I tend to be more cautious before making decisions, think before speaking, and I'm a great listener. I know when to “turn it on,” and then when I get home I can relax and recharge. 

Qualifications aside, most people just want to hire someone who is nice and who they can get along with.

Extroverts can also thrive because they gain energy from being around others and can use their outgoing personality to excel in the workplace. No matter your personality, just make sure you’re professional, warm, inviting, and outgoing. Be personable, even (or especially) with your employer. Qualifications aside, most people just want to hire someone who is nice and who they can get along with. Show them you know how to work with people and that you’re willing and able to get the job done. 

4. Bring a Resume 

Maybe this is obvious, but not everyone thinks of this when applying for a job if it’s not asked of them. Even if it’s not required, create a resume or portfolio to bring with you to your interview/job application. It gives the employer an idea of what you’ve already accomplished and helps them understand you better. It also shows them that you know your strengths and feel confident about the job. For some careers you’ll need a typical resume with your previous workplaces, skills, education, etc. And for a trade you might want to put together a portfolio with examples of the work you’ve done. 

5. Clean Up Your Social Media

Your social media paints a picture of you, whether it’s accurate or not. Maybe the job is between you and one other person and everything about you is pretty similar. They might take to social media to see what kind of things you post or what kind of lifestyle you live. The party girl who posts drunk selfies complaining about her life all the time is less likely to get the job against the woman who is family oriented, tasteful, and positive. Go through your social media and make sure that what can be seen and read by others is what you’d be okay with your employer seeing. I’ve seen my mom turn away a potential employee simply because their social media made them seem extremely irresponsible. 

6. Dress Professionally for the Interview

Go to your interview wearing something that’s presentable. Your words are not the only thing that speak to your character. What you wear to the interview tells them you either are eager and ready for the job, or that you don’t care that much. I recently saw certain political candidates wearing a hoodie and gym shorts to their campaigning events. And without even knowing what their political stance was, their outfit told me that nothing could be that important to them if they didn’t even have the decency to dress like a leader.  

Also, show up ready – don’t apply your makeup in your car or lint roll your pants in the parking lot. You never know who might be looking out the window and see you – possibly even your interviewer. 

7. Show Up a Few Minutes Early for the Interview 

Don’t show up way too early, but come a few minutes early to show that you’re excited for the position and prepared. Being a few minutes early also shows the employer that you’re timely and that you responsibly planned your commute. If you’re late to the interview, it can imply that you will be someone who will be late to work. Most employers don’t tolerate people showing up late all the time. 

8. Be Aware of Your Body Language and Eye Contact during the Interview  

When you’re being interviewed, your answers are important but so is your body language and eye contact. If you’re hunched, arms crossed, sitting way too relaxed, or too uptight, and won’t look them in the eyes, it might be a turn off. Sit up straight, be professional, and give them eye contact to show them you’re capable and attentive. Shake their hand when you enter and leave. Be friendly, smile, and give clear answers. 

Smile and shake their hand when you enter and leave. 

9. Know All about the Company You’re Interviewing For

Wherever you’re applying, come to the interview with knowledge about the company. Go online and learn about their current vision, their history, and how they operate. Bring up some of these things during the interview to let the employer know you’re already invested in the company and are on board with them. 

10. Ask Thoughtful Questions during the Interview

It’s nice to come to the interview with some questions for the person interviewing you. They will probably ask you if you have questions, and this can help set you apart a bit. 

Here are some recommendations from University of North Texas of questions that you can ask during the interview:

  • How would you describe a typical workday?

  • What are some of the objectives you would like to see accomplished in this job?

  • What are some of the more difficult challenges one would face in this position?

  • How does this position contribute to the company?

  • Is there any travel involved with this position?

  • How would you describe the culture of the company?

This goes the other way too – be ready to answer their questions, especially the ones where they ask you why you’d be a good fit for the position, or to give an example of an accomplishment or an obstacle you overcame. 

11. Follow Up a Couple Days after the Interview 

It’s a smart idea to follow up with the place you’re applying to. The day after interviewing, you should start by sending an email to the employer, thanking them for the interview and expressing your excitement. Don't be a pest, but let the employer know that you’re interested and eager for the job. 

If you aren’t sure what follow-up measures are appropriate for the type of workplace you’re applying to, then ask about it at the end of your interview. See when is a good time to follow up with them, and make sure you do it. Maybe it’s a close call between you and one other candidate for the job, and you followed up afterward but they didn’t. This tells the employer that you really want the position. 

Closing Thoughts 

Turning in a job application might seem insignificant, but it can make all the difference to the employer. What I hear from many employers and business owners today is that people don’t want to work, and the people who do work have no social skills or professionalism. Be the person who goes the extra mile, even with the small things, and you will excel in your career. 

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