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  1. Blog
  2. Partners in Diversity
  3. May 3, 2024

Ask an Employer: How Can Job Seekers Stand Out?

“Use the resources available to you to help (us).”

Woman applying to jobs
Photo courtesy of Ketut Subiyanto

This article is part of InHerSight's Partners in Diversity series. Discover companies partnering with InHerSight to better support women in the workplace.

Frustration with the current job market is high. While the U.S. unemployment rate is near its lowest level in decades, Business Insider reported in February that employers are taking longer to hire, posting fewer jobs, and “extending job offers at the lowest level since 2014.” The estimated three- to six-month job search—the one touted in every Google search result you’ll encounter—is stretching longer and longer for many, as applicant pools become more competitive and interview processes more lengthy and rigorous.

Much of that isn’t in your control. Labor markets ebb and flow, and it’s important to remain optimistic, even as they become more challenging. Yet there are still steps you can take to elevate your applicant game and land a role at a top company.

Our Ask an Employer series aims to improve transparency in the job search process, from the application to the interviews. We asked eight hiring and people experts at our employer partners to share which part of the application or interview process job seekers struggle with most often, and what advice they’d give to help job seekers stand out. Their answers provide insight into ways you can showcase your unique skills—and be uniquely you—in a flooded candidate pool. 

Job seekers can stand out by…

1. Elaborating beyond their resume

“When asked about your background, avoid simply reciting your resume. Provide a concise overview of your professional journey, focusing on current and relevant positions. Explain why you are seeking a change and why the new opportunity interests you. Emphasize transferable skills, align with the job description, and skip irrelevant past roles to highlight pertinent experience effectively.” —Amy Wilson, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Mediaocean

2. Problem solving for real life

“The part of the application process I see job seekers struggling with the most, are at our onsite rounds. Our onsite rounds at VTS range from presentations, real-time exercises, or technical assessments, depending on the role. Candidates sometimes focus too much on getting everything perfect, and forget that in real life, professional circumstances sometimes don't work out the way you want them to. We are not looking for a right or wrong answer, more so how candidates collaborate with other team members, and what their thought processes are.” —Lindsay Cohen, Senior Lead, Talent Acquisition & Operations, VTS

3. Tailoring your resume

“I think a big part of making your resume stand out is tailoring it to the job that you are applying for. Recruiters and hiring managers look for keywords, so highlight your experience that matches the job requirements on the job description. Also, formatting is huge so make sure your resume is easy to read and navigate. Google has some great resume formats if you are struggling to get started.” —Alex Stock, Recruiter, Ping Identity

4. Confidently explaining resume gaps

“Explaining resume gaps is a recurring challenge many women face. Whether due to caregiving responsibilities, personal reasons, or career transitions, it's crucial to approach this topic honestly and confidently. Emphasizing the skills and experiences gained during that time can highlight your readiness to re-enter the workforce. Remember, you are more than capable, deserving, and worthy of success. By arming yourself with knowledge, confidence, and self-advocacy skills, you can navigate the interview process with clarity and resilience.” —Liz Leach, Senior Recruiter, KinderCare Learning Companies

5. Optimizing your resume

“When looking at resumes I will look for recent relevant experience first. I find a lot of resumes are out of date or list jobs that are not relevant to the position they are applying for. To stand out make sure to have a well-organized, updated resume. Having a header that stands out is helpful, too! Be professional but also have a little fun with it.” —Amanda McBroom, Regional Manager, Mill Creek Residential Trust

6. Understanding your growth opportunities 

“In my experience, being able to point out your strengths and weaknesses makes interviewees uncomfortable, when it shouldn't. This is an opportunity to showcase where you excel and to be open and honest about where you can grow and your willingness to learn. Weaknesses aren't necessarily a bad thing—they are opportunities to improve.” —Caitlin Pearl, Senior Community Manager, Mill Creek Residential Trust

7. Asking questions for the take-home assignment

“The biggest area people tend to struggle is the assessment stage. This is highly dependent on the role, but usually involves a short assignment related to the role. My biggest pieces of advice here would be to give yourself some prep time and don't be afraid to ask questions! We know there can be so much pressure in these assessments and hiring processes, especially when you care about the role. Use the resources available to you to help (us).” —AJ Heil, Talent and People Lead, Taulia

8. Relaxing during multi-round interviews 

“I love our company’s ability to make the interview process quick and seamless, but it can be intimidating to meet with several people in a short period of time. First, be yourself! When a candidate is genuine during the interview about who they are, the interview typically goes by quicker and is more enjoyable for everyone. Second, if you are interviewing with multiple people at different times, don’t be afraid to ask the same question more than once. Everyone has different opinions and you'll gain some valuable insight on the role and company!” —Nicole Ernst, Senior Recruiter, Bandwidth

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