You’ve found it! After days, weeks, or months of looking – you’ve found the perfect job for you. It’s the one. The one you’ve been looking for all this time: the advert is screaming your name. It’s almost like it was written for you.

You KNOW that you’re the perfect candidate for this job – all you need to do now is catch the recruiter or employer’s eye and prove to them that you’re their ideal candidate.

…But where do you start?

Luckily, there’s a science to it; there will be things that recruiters and employers alike look out for. And in today’s post, we’re going to help you understand why you’re the top candidate – and then tell you exactly what to say.

We are good, aren’t we?

Don’t forget – every candidate is different, so there are a whole host of reasons you might be the top candidate. It could be that one of the following points apply to you, or lots of them; so feel free to pick and choose what works to showcase you the best.

Good luck – we’ve got our fingers crossed for you!

1.    You’ve got all the listed qualifications

There’s no getting away from it – some roles just require someone with specific qualifications. They’re often required for a very good reason, and having them all will often put you head and shoulders above other applicants. If it’s integral to the role, you can even consider putting them in your personal summary right at the top of your CV.

What you should do:

This one’s pretty easy – list all your qualifications clearly on your CV, with the dates that you took them, in reverse chronological order. If you’ve got a lot of qualifications and you find they’re taking up a lot of space, consider only including the most relevant ones.

What you should say:

“I saw you were looking for someone with [required qualifications] – I’m fully qualified in all these areas.”

2.    Your previous work experience ticks all the boxes

We all learn on the job, and in some cases employers could be more interested in your work experience than your qualifications. If your experience covers everything they’re looking for, make sure it’s clear from a quick glance at your application!

What you should do:

Clearly state your past work experience on your CV, in reverse chronological order – and make sure it’s easy to read at a glance. If you find your CV is getting too long, it’s OK to omit earlier experience, or just include the position, employer names and date you worked there.

What you should say:

“My past experience aligns really closely with the requirements for this role – I have [years of experience] and I’m confident this would qualify me for this position.”

3.    You’ve kept up to date with your CPD (Continued Professional Development)

The world of work is constantly changing – with new technology and regulations changing our jobs all the time. While each profession has different guidelines for the yearly amount of CPD you should undertake, no matter the industry you work in, staying up to date formally or informally with the latest trends and processes is key to ensuring the future of your career.

Many roles will require up-to-date knowledge or recent occupational competence – so even if you’ve been out of work or in a different role recently, staying on top of your CPD could still make you a standout candidate.

Want to invest more in your CPD? You could try Lynda – now owned by LinkedIn, with unlimited access to 1000’s of courses starting from £19.99 a month – or Skillshare, which has free and paid plans, with 26,000 classes and growing. Here at Protocol we also offer free relevant CPD to all our registered candidates through our exclusive online portal Learning Zone.

What you should do:

List all your CPD, certifications and additional training on your CV, along with the dates, just like you would with new qualifications.

What you should say:

“I’m really keen on my CPD and keeping up to date with the latest [trends/regulations] – recently I [talk about the CPD you’ve done]”

4.    You’ve done this job before – but in a different industry

While you might not have worked in this particular industry before, you are already familiar with the day-to-day tasks of the role, and have the experience and confidence from your previous role to complete them effectively. But because your background is in a different industry, you might bring a fresh perspective, and likely take a different approach to solving problems. A fresh set of eyes on processes can benefit an organisation in many ways; boosting efficiency, uncovering blind spots, and even finding profitable new avenues to pursue.

Crossing into a new industry can also bring invaluable insights – for example, principles you’ve learned working in business in the private sector could really help improve cost-effectiveness in education providers; or real-world experience as a plumber can help plumbing students learn important lessons they may have made costly mistakes to learn elsewhere.

What you should do:

Make sure your CV clearly details your experience in a way that fulfils the requirements of the job description for the role you are applying for. Where you can, choose to focus on tasks and responsibilities that were mentioned in the advert.

What you should say:

“I think my experience in [previous industry] could be really useful at your organisation!”

5.    You’ve got experience uniquely relevant to this role – that no-one else does

Everyone’s work experience is different – so if there’s something key you’ve worked on in the past that’s relevant to this role, make sure to shout about it! It could be that a project or task you worked on is integral to the growth of this company, so make sure they know how knowledgeable you are.

And don’t forget – your experience isn’t limited to the workplace. Side hustles, hobbies, and personal passions all count – and in some cases could give you more relevant or in-depth knowledge which is easily transferable into your career.

What you should do:

Include key projects and highlight achievements on your CV – only you will know what these are, but think of a time you implemented something new that was a success, led on a project, or solved a tough problem. Don’t forget you can also list experience other than work on your CV – like volunteer work, freelance projects, and even blogs.

What you should say:

“I’ve also got a background in [important topic] – from my [side hustle/hobby/personal passion] I’ve had experience that would be really useful in this role.”

6.    You might not have all the skills just yet – but you’re hungry to learn them

Not possessing a skill isn’t the end of the world – new software, processes and ideas are developed all the time, so no-one can possibly know everything. Many people learn skills on the job, too, so if your previous employer hasn’t invested in training or given you the tools to pursue it yourself, don’t beat yourself up over it. Good employers recognise the importance of continuous learning, and great employers will give you the time and tools to improve your skills.

What you should do:

Even if you’ve only just started working towards this particular skill – like taken a short course, done some shadowing, or worked on a personal project – make sure to include it where relevant, as it shows your commitment!

What you should say:

“I honestly think learning [new skill] would be a real asset to my current skillset – and I’m willing to put in the work to learn it so I can apply it to this role.”

7.    You’ve worked at a similar organisation in the past

An important part of any role is understanding the organisations’ internal workings – and many organisations have similar structures and processes. If you’ve previously worked at an organisation similar to the one you’re applying to, you’ve definitely got an advantage! The specific transferable skills differ depending on the industry – it could be familiarity with regulations, a bank of key knowledge, or experience of standard processes – but whatever it is, make sure your potential employer is aware of how it can help their organisation.

What you should do:

Most potential employers will be aware of other organisations in their industry (especially if they are competitors) so clearly marking the employer name under your work experience should be enough. However, you could also specifically highlight this experience in your covering letter.

What you should say:

“This organisation seems quite like the time I spent at [past organisation] – I learned a lot about [important topic] while I was there.”

8.    You match the job description to a ‘T’

This is the holy grail of a candidate! We all know you don’t always have to match the entirety of a job description to apply (nobody’s perfect!) but once in a while, an opportunity will come along where you tick all the boxes. When that happens – shout about it!

What you should do:

Make sure all the requirements in the advert are clearly visible in your CV and covering letter – and where applicable, highlight key points right at the top of your CV.

What you should say:

“I applied to this job because I believe I tick all the boxes – I’ve got all the experience and qualifications the ad was looking for. Is there anything you’d like to ask me about my experience?”

9.    You’re ready for a new challenge

At the heart of it, organisations hire people because they need a problem solving. It doesn’t matter if it’s a project that they need specialist help on, a role to facilitate expansion, or simply replacing a previous employee: they want someone who can get stuck in and fulfil a need no-one else can. If you’re hungry for a new challenge and are full of positivity and motivation, make sure the employer knows; they want to know they’re hiring someone who will go above and beyond, not do the bare minimum for an easy paycheck.

What you should do:

Clearly state in your application or covering letter that you’re ready for a new challenge – and if the potential employer asks you why you’re looking for something new, make sure you articulate it. But stick to the positives – use it to talk about the positive opportunities your new role can bring, rather than talk negatively about your previous or current role.

What you should say:

“My role at [previous employer] has taught me a lot, but I feel I’m ready to move on and apply the experience learned to solve a new set of problems!”

Looking for more support? Protocol candidates have access to free personalised career guidance, CPD, and more – and it’s free to register with us.

If you’re looking for a new opportunity in further education, skills, training or the public sector, sign up with us today to be notified of roles that would suit your experience – or give one of our consultants a call on 0115 911 1222 for a non-committal chat!

This article was written by Alessandra Metcalf, Marketing Co-ordinator at Protocol.

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