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​How to Stand Out in a Candidate Rich Market

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Published Date: 30th April 2024

The hiring landscape has entered a new chapter in recent months, shifting from a marked deficit of candidates to a surplus for certain job types and sectors.

Changes in political leadership often influence business sentiment, which in turn impacts hiring trends. We've noticed shifts in hiring demand following the recent election, mirroring patterns seen when the National Party previously came into power.

As a long-standing New Zealand recruitment agency with connections across a wide range of industries, we know hiring is cyclical – much like other aspects of business. We expect that internal candidates may be prioritised for a while longer. Eventually, however, there will certainly be a renewed demand for exceptional talent, compelling employers to once again search for candidates from external sources.

Why You Need to Work Harder to Find a Job Right Now

It’s not unusual for a hiring manager to be handed a pile of a hundred CVs for a single position. Hence, internal recruitment teams are currently struggling under the growing weight of job applicants they’re fielding for each vacancy – with one source reporting an increase as high as 54% between December and January alone.

As internal recruiters lack the capacity to pre-process this volume of applications, hiring managers are spending far less time reviewing each CV. As a candidate, you’ll need to work harder to get noticed!

If you find yourself facing redundancies or a shortage of contracts, how can you make sure your job application shines in this highly competitive market?

Having a plethora of skills isn’t quite enough to get you over the line – you must demonstrate exactly why you will make a great fit for a specific role and organisation in the quickest way possible. Here’s how to do it.

How to Make Your CV Stand Out

In a slower job market, consider that landing interviews can sometimes be a numbers game, so you might need to apply for more positions than usual. The good news is that you can streamline your job application process to save time whilst being as targeted as possible. Templates offer a practical solution.

This is how it works: If you are applying for several role types that each require a different set of skills and experience, create several template CVs, one for each role type. In each template CV, focus on the skills and experience required for that type of role. (Remember to keep to a maximum of 4 pages for a CV.)

If you're unsure how to start, begin by brainstorming in a Word document. List out all the skills you possess confidently, covering both technical (e.g., writing, programming, accounting) and soft skills (e.g., negotiation, resilience, learning agility, leadership). Use bullet points to organise these skills into a list that best represents your strengths for the roles you're targeting. (For a breakdown of how to showcase your soft skills to employers, read our guide here.)

Act Fast

Now that you understand how to make your CV stand out, you can move fast on each job application. Procrastination can cost you opportunities, so seize the moment and apply as soon as you see a new position rather than waiting until morning.

Once hiring managers identify several strong candidates, they may not have the capacity to thoroughly review the remaining applications. They’re often time-poor, busy juggling their main job responsibilities along with recruitment, which is very resource-intensive. Getting in early will boost your chances of reaching the top of the pile.

Should You Include a Cover Letter?

It's a question we get asked often: is investing time in crafting a cover letter worth it? Truth be told, it varies from one hiring manager to another – some swear by them, while others might not give them much attention. That said, my advice is to write one anyway!

When writing a cover letter, make sure it's customised for the specific position you're targeting, just like your CV. Keep it concise – one page is enough. Use this space to express your genuine enthusiasm for both the role and the organisation and what you could contribute to the role – these elements give hiring managers compelling reasons to select you for an interview.

Here's a tip: make use of your bullet points to streamline the process, allowing you to whip up a cover letter quickly. Writing cover letters can help you devise new ways to describe your background and skills, which is beneficial when preparing for job interviews.

Introduce Yourself

When applying for jobs, almost everyone relies on email or auto-apply features on job sites. Have you considered taking it one step further, especially for a role that looks especially exciting?

If you happen to notice a phone number included in a job advertisement, don't hesitate to think of some clever questions and give the employer a call. Take the opportunity to discuss your background and if you might be a suitable candidate for the position.

By making this call, you will leave a lasting impression when they receive your application, hopefully in a positive light. Since not many candidates take this approach, it is a fantastic way to truly stand out from the crowd!

Calling in can also help you gauge how the organisation responds to the public, giving you valuable clues about their internal culture.

More Tips on How to Stand Out When Applying for Jobs

Before you submit a job application, don’t forget to do the following:

  • Double-check that your application mirrors the language used in the position description and job ad. This will help hiring managers quickly understand your fit for the role, as you’re using the organisation’s own terminology. This also helps your application get past any software-based filters that rely on keywords from the job description.

  • Have a fresh pair of eyes proofread your application. Share the job ad, description, cover letter, and CV with a trusted individual to catch any overlooked details or spelling mistakes. Small errors can undo the best candidates for a role, so it pays to sweat the small stuff, too!

Partner with the Premier New Zealand Recruitment Agency

A combination of strategy and speed will help your job search be more effective. But there is only so much you can do on your own, especially at a time when there is an ever-increasing number of applicants for new positions. That’s when engaging with a dedicated recruitment specialist can help.

Reach out to one of our specialist teams here at Beyond Recruitment and let us know you’re actively seeking new roles. Our team will be happy to provide you with updates on the market and guidance on where your skills will have the most impact.

If you're an employer aiming to leave a positive impression on potential candidates but find yourself pressed for time when it comes to recruitment, please get in touch. We provide both unbundled services and comprehensive end-to-end recruitment solutions. If compiling candidate long lists or short lists is a pain point for you, we're more than happy to provide quotes tailored to your needs.

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