Standing Out As A Job Candidate In A Digital World

Jacques du Rand 2021-08-13

In a world that is becoming more and more digital in all it's workings, including being interviewed for jobs; how do you make sure you're standing out?

One can argue that the playing field has been levelled where companies decide to interview remotely. Of course this is highly dependent on the role being interviewed for, but let's for our example say it is for a role in tech. Whether designer, programmer or project manager (or any other role) the principles we are about to share will be the same.

Standing Out As A Job Candidate

The principles for standing out amongst other applicants have not changed that much over the years. Having a good, and personalised cover letter, concise, and good looking CV and, of course, having the correct qualifications is what will get you noticed and added to the interview pile.

  • The Cover Letter - Your cover letter should be kept short, sweet and to the point. More specifically to the point of why you're the right candidate for the role. Touch on one or two career highlights that would make you stand-out and add a personal touch such as mentioning your excellent teamwork skills.
  • Your CV - In a fast-paced life, everyone expects fast answers. CVs have come a long way from 20 years ago where you would put ALL of your experience in your resume. Even your waitressing days from varsity. These days employers want to see a two-pager maximum; and they expect it to be good looking too!

    Photos have become a popular addition to resumes, but if you're going to add one, make sure it's very appropriate. Use of colour, edging and grid format-styling have also become very popular and are often picked out from application piles more so than your straightforward black and white, Times New Roman, resume. CV preparation has in-fact become such a big factor that there are companies dedicated to helping you prepare the best looking CV possible.

  • Qualifications - This we thought was a no-brainer, but there are so many chancers out there. (People who will apply for anything and everything regardless of whether they have the skills or not.) Now, if you have zero skills for the position, do yourself a favour and don't apply. However, if you have closely related experience, or experience doing something very similar, of course apply!

Standing Out As A Job Candidate in Remote Interviews

Once you've passed the sorting pile, the next step is to stand out in the remote interview.

This in itself can be more tricky than you'd think.

  1. Line Speed & Stability - The first hurdle is to make sure that your line speed and connection is not going to fail you during your call. This might also include checking to see whether you'll have load shedding that day! Most remote interviews take place through Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams. You want to ensure that your interviewer can see you (that you're not pixelated or frozen); hear you (not cutting out or echoing) and of course that you can get on the call in the first place!
  2. Lighting - Try to position your laptop in an area that gets good natural light. We all look a little better in natural light as opposed to fluorescents, but if you don't have access to a window (natural light) then make sure that you have good lighting set-up for your call, and that illuminates your face. The interviewer(s) want to SEE you, so make sure you're well lit.
  3. Height - Camera height is important as it sits above your screen. Humans naturally look other humans in the eye when talking. This can be a bit problematic when you're using a webcam as the camera is not on your screen (where the faces appear) - so if your laptop is too low, you look like you're looking down at the interviewer. Trust me, looking half asleep is not a great angle. So what you want to try and do is to get the height of the camera as level with your eyes as possible. That way you'll appear to be looking at the people head-on instead.
  4. Background - We've all seen the Zoom call fails. Preferably angle your laptop so that it is not pointing at your dirty dishes, bathroom or anywhere where a housemate, partner, neighbour or child will come in view. Most of the video conferencing tools now have background images you can apply that puts you anywhere, but if you choose the tropical island background, your new employer might not find that as endearing as you do. Having your real world/workspace in the background will also help you come across as far more credible than putting on a fake one.
  5. Neatness & Presentation - I'm going to reference those Zoom fails again. We've all seen the guy getting up from the meeting while the meeting was still in progress and he was not wearing any pants. Not great. Just because you're having a digital interview does not mean you can slack on your presentation. Dress as if you were going to this interview in person.

How To Add That "X-factor" To Your Application

If you really want to make an impression, having additional points of reference in your application can go a long way. We're not just talking about having references - those are expected. We're talking about public creativity.

What's that? It's the ‘street cred' of the digital world. Oh, you know: YouTube vids, TikToks, Instagram, Twitter, blogging and GitHub. Now, not everyone has the time or inclination to put themselves out there in the public world, but for those that do, you can give yourself a big advantage in terms of standing out.

Not everything has to be video either - a blog with your opinions, or a GitHub repository of a project, which has a learning curve for example, can go a long way to help you stand out. And if none of this is your thing, rather don't do it. If you're not doing it because you want to develop skills, share your learnings with the world, etc. it may come across as contrived - and that will be far worse!

The Internet has indeed made the world a smaller place, but also a place where you can now more easily get a job anywhere around the world and work remotely. Make sure you have an Internet provider that can back-you-up in your quest. If not, Fibre Tiger is here to help you switch or compare your internet service provider easily.