As unemployment remains high due to the ongoing pandemic, the competition for remote jobs is fierce. In addition, the move to virtual hiring practices limits personal contact to video conferences and phone calls. This makes communication more challenging than ever, especially for jobseekers looking for bold new ways to stand out to employers.
The word “bold” in this instance refers to “showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit.” However, it can also refer to “being impudent or presumptuous.” These divergent definitions highlight that bold strategies are a double-edged sword. Well-executed, insightful strategies can get you hired, but missteps can fall flat and even cause offense. So, if you’re interested in standing out to employers in a good way, read on for some real life examples and practical advice from the people doing the hiring.
Bold Social Media Networking Strategies
Being bold can be incorporated even before the job search begins. Many of our hiring experts highlighted the importance of leveraging social media as a way to stand out to employers.
“I encourage jobseekers to track down team leaders at their target company on LinkedIn. When I applied to a remote company a few years ago, I didn’t hear anything back. Then I tracked down the COO on LinkedIn and messaged him about my interest in joining the team. The next day, a manager there wrote to me and gave me an interview.”Rebecca Safier, Founder, Remote Bliss.
Another strategy that has helped people get hired was suggested by Cecilia Hunt, CEO of JourneyPure. She advises jobseekers to comment on the LinkedIn posts of a top executive at the company you want to work for:
“It’s bold because many people still don’t do it, but surprisingly effective if you do it in the right way. Casual comments like ‘Nice!’ on an executive’s LinkedIn post will not cut it. Thoughtful comments that add value such as sharing personal experiences or adding links to useful and relevant articles stand out better.”
Your networking doesn’t need to be limited to senior executives however. Developing relationships with company insiders can get you a reference when an opening comes available as evidenced by this example from Jeff Walker, Founder/CEO of Best VPN Canada:
“The key here is finding somebody influential inside the company. There was an applicant who reached out to me through LinkedIn. At first, he was just like some random individual trying to connect. Then he piqued my interest and in no time we built a professional relationship. In the end, I ended up recommending him for a job opening.”
Why Wait for a Job Opening?
If you know what job you want, why wait for a job ad? Research who the hiring manager is and directly connect to them via LinkedIn. Then be bold and send in your resume and cover letter, even if there isn’t a current opening. Mika Kujapelto, CEO & Founder of LaptopUnboxed, explains how it works:
“Taking the extra mile by personally connecting and interacting before the position is open can make a positive impression that they’ll remember. It’s an excellent way for jobseekers to be one step ahead of their competition and could be convenient for employers who might not need to set up job interviews when jobseekers boldly go for it first.”
Demonstrate You Can Do the Job
Another way to stand out to potential employers is to show them the value you can bring to their organization—even before you’re hired. This strategy involves doing free work in order to impress. As noted by Jon Hill, Chairman & CEO of The Energists, this approach is best used for applying to target companies you’ve thoroughly researched:
“Identify an aspect of the job you want to get that you think you can improve and send the hiring manager an example of what you’d change and why. Even if the company doesn’t choose to take your advice, this shows initiative, critical thinking abilities, and the right kind of boldness, and will likely get their attention.”
While this next strategy needs to be undertaken sparingly to avoid spending all your time doing work for free, it can be very effective especially if you have the skills to back it up as this anecdote by John Ross, CEO of Test Prep Insight illustrates:
“We produce a ton of videos as a means of generating leads, and our most recent video editor hire got my attention in a unique way. He commented directly on a number of our YouTube videos, saying very bluntly that he could do a better job editing our videos. After the fourth or fifth time this happened, we ended up responding to him and basically saying, “You think so? Prove it. He replied immediately and requested some raw footage. Within hours he sent us a highly polished and very professional video that blew me away. We offered him a job on the spot.“
Bold Cover Letters That Will Stand Out to Employers
Creative cover letters are another great way to get noticed during the hiring process. This is because jobseekers have more leeway to be creative in a cover letter than in a resume which has prescribed information and format.
One trend that can help you stand out to employers is to create a video cover letter. The benefit is the opportunity to create an in-person first impression without being in person. Jonathan Frey, CMO of Urban Bikes Direct, tells us about one of his favorite applications:
“Last year, an applicant recorded herself responding to our online job listing while riding her e-bike through a scenic bike trail. The video was well-produced, and the candidate was impressive as she rattled off her e-bike knowledge while gliding through nature. She clearly loved e-bikes, demonstrating precisely the kind of passion the role required. I ended up hiring that applicant.”
An example of a more risky approach to a bold cover letter is to send a “pain letter.” Pain letters offer a solution to an organizational issue or problem based on research and real-life examples. While in some instances, a pain letter may demonstrate you are perfect for the position and get you hired, in others, it may completely bomb. Alastair Kennett, Founder & Managing Director of Optimale offers a word of caution:
“It puts me off to hear someone outside of the business provide feedback based on incomplete information. I don’t want a hotshot telling me how they would run my business when they don’t have the full picture.”
Further Reading: 9 Expert Answers for “What Makes a Good Cover Letter?”
How to Impress Employers with Your Resume
When deciding how to create a bold resume that will stand out to employers, it is important to develop it with your industry in mind. While colorful and beautifully designed resumes look good, if they don’t contain the information an organization is looking for, it won’t get you very far. With your resume, bold should be illustrated with good writing and a compelling narrative in most instances. If necessary, a little color goes a long way.
However, sometimes you can include your resume in an alternate format that can impress potential employers. One example is to create an online visual resume. Israel Gaudette, Link Tracker Pro Founder, describes his experience:
“I used to just be satisfied with just looking at jobseekers’ resumes whenever I needed a remote position to fill. But when I stumbled on an online portfolio for one of the applicants, I was wowed by it. A professional headshot was there, proof of previous projects, a well-outlined timeline of his educational career, and even testimonials from his previous bosses and colleagues. And the best part, anyone can easily get in touch and schedule a call with him through its embedded Calendly scheduling.”
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. One example comes from Kennett who favors creative presentations that don’t detract from a candidate’s competence, but highlights it instead:
“I was once sent a resume as an Excel document, which I wouldn’t usually recommend but it was intricate, good humored and well done. It stood out and was a skill we were looking for.”
How to Stand Out from Other Interview Candidates
Standing out in remote job interviews requires an ability to come across well in video. Rafe Gomez, co-owner of VC Inc. Marketing, and author of “What’s in It For ME? A Powerful New Interview Strategy to Get You Hired in Today’s Challenging Economy” talks about how to position yourself as the best person for the job:
“Explain how you would be able to make the company money, save the company money, and/or improve the company’s image in the marketplace. These “closing triggers” are exactly what organizations are seeking in a new hire.”
Sometimes however, it’s not the answers you give but the questions you ask that help you stand out to employers. Jake Smith, Managing Director of Absolute Reg advises asking intelligent questions that no other interviewee will ask:
“Research challenging and deliberate questions that only serious and committed jobseekers will ask. Why? It shows that they have thoroughly done their research about the company. Also, it indicates how a jobseeker is truly evaluating his/her decisions before accepting an offer or a job. Lastly, these kinds of questions also add value to the discussion, making the interview more remarkable and stands out above anyone else.”
In addition, it’s important to remember that everything in the viewing frame during a video interview is going to become part of your interview. An example is the bold interview strategy experienced by Reuben Yonatan, Founder & CEO of GetVoIP:
“One candidate used the background to inform their responses. The candidate thought ahead, anticipated possible interview questions and set up the background with visuals to elevate their responses.”
For many jobseekers, just sending a thank you letter after an interview is plenty bold enough. However, if you want to truly make an impression, you can elevate your follow-up. One option provided by Hill is to send something they’ll use with your name on it.
“Instead of just sending along a letter with your business card, you can get that same information printed on an object the interviewer will actually use, like a nice pen, notepad, or other helpful office tool. You can get these kinds of things made fairly cheap through companies that make custom products for weddings or marketing campaigns. Simply the act of sending a physical note or letter instead of an email will help you stand out from the pack.”
A last piece of advice provided by Jonathan Cohen, Co-Founder of Cohen & Winters is to never forget the power of a phone call.
“It may not sound too bold, but in a world of emails, texts, and linked LinkedIn requests, a phone call really impresses me. Job applicants that make the effort to pick up the phone, show me a genuine interest in working for our company.”
To Be Bold, or Not to Be Bold, That Is the Question
So, when is a bold approach appropriate? Done right, being bold can create a personal connection with the person doing the hiring, done wrong you come across as an arrogant know-it-all. One of the best ways to ensure success when being bold is to be thorough in your research. Above all, be authentic to yourself and you won’t go wrong.
Do you have any bold tips to stand out to employers? What changes did you make to your resume, cover letter, or social media profile? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!
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