3 Surprising Ways You Can Give Yourself the Upper Hand When Applying For a Job

Joanne Poh



Becoming the perfect job candidate is something not all of us can achieve, especially since it often involves not having a mind of your own and being willing to submit to authority no matter how idiotic. I kid.

Okay, maybe not. But even if you don’t have an MBA from Harvard or a cupboard full of academic awards, there are some things you can do to raise yourself in the estimation of your interviewers… at least until you actually start working for them. Here they are.


Wear a suit to the interview

So half the friends you polled say a collared shirt and pants/skirt are formal enough. Whatever they say, if you’re looking for a corporate job, for the love of God please turn up in a proper business suit. If you’re a man, that includes a tie and proper dress shoes. If all the other candidates nervously twiddling their thumbs in the waiting room are making you feel overdressed, it just means you’ll create a better first impression than they will.

According to researchers, wearing more formal clothing has an effect on your mental state, too, and improves your abstract cognitive processing. This means you will take a more big-picture view than usual, and will be better able to engage in abstract, high-level thinking. This is great for tackling those “where do you see yourself in five years” type questions.


Become part of a recreational community

When you’re down in the dumps and desperate for a new job, one of the best ways to obtain leads is to simply have a large network. That fancy MNC that wouldn’t spend 2 seconds on your resume suddenly becomes accessible if you have a friend in a senior position there.

Now, just stuffing a stack of business cards in your pocket and heading for the next networking event in town isn’t going to help. Networking events tend to be filled with sharks whose main purpose for being there is to distribute their business cards, and it’s pretty difficult to form real relationships.

Instead, become a member of several recreational communities, and you’ll see your network grow exponentially. If you jog every evening, join a running group (try Purple Lights, Hash House Harriers or Team Fatbird). If you’re into beer brewing, join a group that meets regularly to try out the latest brews. Not all communities will resonate with you, but that’s okay, keep trying and then become a regular of those you fancy. Showing up consistently is key to building lasting relationships. Depending on how many communities you join, within a couple of weeks or months you’ll find that your network has grown beyond your wildest dreams, and simply making it public knowledge that you’re looking for a job will yield a lot more leads.


Create a LinkedIn profile

Resumes are boring. What usually happens is the HR guy glances at it for 5 seconds and then forwards it to one of his bosses, who then opens it on his smartphone and scrolls through for all of 2 seconds before swiping it away. If you create a 10 page tribute to your own greatness, you can expect it to be sent directly to the trash bin.

While many experts recommend that you keep your resume short, it’s a good idea to provide greater detail about your achievements on your LinkedIn profile. Employers, recruiters and hiring managers are now turning to LinkedIn more and more when researching potential candidates, so you want to make sure you’ve got a great photo, links to your personal website, if any, and juicy details about your latest and greatest achievements.

That way, if an employer does take an interest in your application and decides to check you out, you’ll leave a much deeper impression than someone without an online presence.

Do you have any tips for other job seekers? Share them with us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.