6 unconventional ways to make your candidates stand out

Every recruiter has been in the frustrating situation of having a great candidate on their books that somehow gets overlooked. On average, only 20% of people that apply for jobs get an interview – and even then, applicants only have a short window to shine.

Recruitment agencies play a pivotal role in putting candidates forward and preparing them for new opportunities, and many contractors successfully secure roles by getting the basics right. However, in the most competitive roles, sometimes it takes more to stand out from the crowd.

If you’re looking for some more unusual ways to differentiate your applicant from others in the pile, here are some unconventional techniques to consider…

1. Switch up their CV format

Companies receive hundreds of hard-copy resumés for some roles, making even the nicely designed versions blend into the background. Recruitment agencies can cut through the noise by presenting their contractors in a different multimedia format, such as:

  • Video CVs – either interview style or animation
  • Websites – videos and links to testimonials and examples of work can be embedded on these pages
  • Infographics – purely visual profiles highlighting candidates’ key skills and achievements

Often the same information can have a much greater impact when it’s showcased in a more exciting, visually appealing way.

2. Build their digital footprint

It’s not uncommon for potential employers to check out candidates’ social media channels. Many recruitment agencies consider the negative impact of an online presence, making sure candidates have the appropriate privacy settings and professional-looking imagery on display. However, there is a largely unexploited positive side to being present on social media.

If your contractors have specialist skills or niche knowledge, encourage them to make this a feature of their digital footprint. Vlogging about hot topics, contributing articles to industry websites and sharing informed opinions in relevant forums are all great ways to turn a quick google search into a competitive differentiator.

3. Express their personality

While some fields need employees to present themselves conservatively, many sectors allow people to express their personality freely – and this can really help to make them memorable during the recruitment process.

For example, if your contractor has an unusual skill or quirky hobby, encourage them to include it in their CV. Equally, if they have a flair for fashion, suggest they wear bold colours or a statement outfit to interview. So long as it’s decent and occasion appropriate, confident style choices can be a great ice-breaker that help applicants stand out from the crowd.

4. Find common ground with the interviewer

As a recruiter, your job is to equip candidates with knowledge not just of the company they are applying to, but the person that will be interviewing them as well. The better you get to know clients, the more you’ll understand what makes them tick – and can share this information.

For instance, you might realise that the contractor you are putting forward has a common interest with the interviewer, or that they grew up in the same area. They might have children the same age, or holiday in the same region. While it’s important that candidates aren’t seen to be ‘sucking up’ to potential employers, shared ground is a great way to bond.

5. Follow up with a handwritten note

In a digitally driven world, many recruiters rely on email or phone calls as a way of following up on candidate performance – especially if they are strapped for time. However, if someone is truly the right person for a lucrative job, responding with a handwritten note can have a much stronger impact.

If the candidate themselves comes away from the interview desperate to be chosen, you can even encourage them to write to the company directly, in order to show just how keen they are to be considered for the role.

6. If nothing else works…get creative!

We’ve shared some great techniques for differentiating strong candidates, but sometimes even a little outside-the-box thinking isn’t enough to get them noticed. In this scenario, maximum creativity is required!

Some of the more leftfield ideas we’ve encountered for getting good contractors the airtime they deserve include sending companies one trainer to ‘get their foot in the door’; posting people an egg timer and promising to pitch why that person is right for the role before it runs out; and telling applicants to bring their pet pooch to interviews in dog-friendly offices. However, in the case of the latter, it’s best to check with the business first!

ETZ is a recruitment sector expert. Our back office technology takes the admin burden off agencies’ hands, so you can focus on nurturing business opportunities. To see how we can cut the effort of managing timesheets and invoicing, book a demo.