Standing Out: How to be an outstanding candidate - Job Applications

Standing Out: How to be an outstanding candidate - Job Applications


10 min read

I promise to make this a short read ๐Ÿ˜…

Job hunting must be the most daunting, frustrating, humbling, and challenging thing to go through, especially in these times that the COVID-19 Pandemic presented to everyone. In my Land, South Africa the unemployment rate is currently above 34%, this means that a lot of people are looking to be employed, while some are starting their own companies after many attempts to get hired, among those who still have hope that they will one day get hired, only a few are a good fit to the most minor companies that are hiring.

In this short article I will attempt to guide anyone looking for a job to better stand out as a candidate and have a chance to be hired, please note this is solely based on my own research, it is by no means the only way to get hired, however, I will try and cover ways that put you in the hirable pool.

Fitting In:

Personality Check

If there is one thing that seems to be a problem in most professions, and mostly in our profession as tech people, is imposter syndrome. In most cases, the symptoms of imposter syndrome visit each one of us in the early stages of our careers, and even if you have never had it before but sure you must have once asked yourself if you fit in a community of your peers if your work is really authentic, that space of doubt you get to have about your own skills or experience making you question your career choice, that is the syndrome playing tricks on us, no one is great at first, but with time we all get to prove ourselves over and over and slowly defeat this syndrome.

Why am I mentioning this? it is because your confidence in your own trait, art, and skills plays a major role in your getting hired, the very first thing you'll need will be to own up to your character, what makes you unique, your proud work or achievements, all of this gives you a colourful aroma that is attractive, you should by no means try to be like others just because they made it, however, we all can learn from them and each other.

Ask yourself this question, Do I fit in? this question will help you dig into the culture of the company you want to be part of, at most, we find ourselves, victims of our own laziness, suppressed and forced to accept environments that do not help us grow or show and express our talents. Why should I fit in? if you love your job, mental wellness is very important for you to do exceptional at your workplace, teams thrive when they are more relatable and free with each other, so knowing how a team functions before you can join them is advantageous in your research, by asking these questions you are also helping yourself find out what kind of an environment suits you, what can you compromise and what is over the limit, what traits are there that will be beneficial for you in your growth, what are you willing to work on as part of your personal growth to better fit in, without you changing your personality

  • (do I fit it, why should I fit in, what if I do not fit in)

Personality Development

One thing I've learned recently is that we all experience life differently, we can be in the same room, same meeting, listening to the same sound but experiencing that exact moment differently, what this means is even if you may think you have good soft skills, work well with others, however, others may think differently because they are experiencing you outside your view or mind. Here is a trick that helps grow your personal skills such as communication, conflict management, and alike; there are two ways you can try this, but basically it is introspection and retrospection in its simplest form. Every day before calling it a night, review your day and ask yourself how did you handle situations, if you were the receiver of your own work would you have appreciated how you were treated, try to empathize with others and put yourself in their shoes to also get where they come from and what many possible reasons lead them to the decisions they took. In this way, you get to point out your own toxic traits as you relive the moments in your head while wondering about the possible outcomes.

While the first approach is favorable to you and your time, it is just you playing simulations in your head, of course, you need to already be a sympathetic person to do this, we can take the first approach and do it with someone else or a group, this guarantees us better feedback if we choose a non-basis group, choose someone who will not buy your face or say what you need to hear, but get someone who will tell you their honest views, and do not share the scenarios from a point of one person view but all players must be taken into account.

In short, getting feedback on how you come across others may help you improve the way you interact with others, as much as it may not be comfortable, that is where growth is. A bonus is that these stories become testimonials during interviews when you explain how you handled a situation that you were under pressure in, mistreated, or unexpected, now you get to share these stories without any biases or sounding rude.

  • (personal skills and such)

Master Your Art()

The first part of applying to a job is making sure you qualify for the role, sometimes we do advise people to apply to jobs that have extreme requirements because we understand two things, easier the person who posted the job spec was being general, and covered all possible skills that they are looking for but not in any way expecting one person to have all of them, and secondly, the person might not be from a technological background, which happens a lot, and this results in them posting unreasonable job requirements, like a junior with 5 years of experience ( probably a senior junior ๐Ÿ˜…). Before I digress, be specific on what you looking for, and the only way you can do that is by reviewing your skillset, career goals, and your potential.

Let me dig deeper, now and then I get a lot of people looking to jump into the field of IT/Tech, but they do not know where to start, some do not know what they want to do in tech, and that is a problem because the world of tech is an ocean of specializations, knowing what you specifically want to do will help you focus on that and master that, do not be a master of none and a jerk of all trades, especially in the early stages of your career, creating a roadmap for your career will also help you master your own field and build your confidence.

  • (practice your technical skills, master of null, jerk of .* ๐Ÿ˜…)


Tracking growth is a tricky thing because growth takes time, so how do we then get to a point we can see our growth, do not worry, I am here to dish tricks, one trick you can use is to create an online presence, especially when you are a developer, in this way you have a portfolio of accomplishments and a space where you can keep track of your own work, such platforms are useful also as they are tools that companies are already using to keep track of the ongoings of projects and keep their codebase centralized, such platforms are Github, Bitbucket, Gitlabs and they offer free membership, these tools can be coupled with Trello for task management or click up,, Jira, and others, while you at it get used to documenting your work, you can use tools like Notion, Confluence and others out there. You can even go as beyond as hosting your work online using something like Netlify, Heroku, or Vecel, there are many. Joining other professional social media platforms is a great way to network, such as LinkedIn, Meetup, Slack, and Discord.

It has always been the small little basics that set a good standard and point you to a great path. When you are interviewed and an interviewer is able to see your work, it gives them more confidence that you are what you claim to be, this applies also to other fields like designers where they can host their work on platforms like dribble. In all, show us what you can do, words are cheap. As a bonus, do a lot of interview practices, get someone to help you conduct them, and review your overall performance, that helps you do better when the actual interview comes along, and more likely to even get the same technical questions and soft skills questions.

  • (show and brag, share and tell)

art.update() : keeping up with the world of change & Online presence

Extending on the previous point, keep yourself up to date with what is currently happening out there, where is the world of tech heading, what are new advancements, and what influenced certain changes. This is just general news but in most cases, interviewers do ask about interesting new trends in the field.

This will also help you get exposed to new tech that you might want to try, and because of that get to be more favorable over others.

As a creator it is very advisable to always keep your online presence up to date, this means all those codebase repos and documentation you made get to be updated with new information as you progress.

If you have been paying attention you'd realize that we were just preparing ourselves to create an attractive profile which may enable us to get a chance at least with a recruiter. All the above are things that may go into your resume, starting from who you are and what you do, what have you done and where is it hosted for the world to see and interact with, to what you want to do next, all this makes your resume attractive, not just a one-liner resume, or a 5-page resume with just theory ๐Ÿ˜’.

At most, a recruiter will take less than 30 seconds to go through your resume, this is because you are not the only person applying so they need to move fast. At that time your resume needs to attract the reader so that they can mark it as a potential.

Here are some tips on how you do that:

  • While the design is not the reason you are applying, humans like nice-looking content, however when choosing to be artistic with the look of your resume choose colors that are easy on the eye, a design alone can make someone pass your resume and not read it at all. Make sure the design makes sense and it is not too busy.

  • Do not add unnecessary information, some of our personal information is not useful before being interviewed, in this era of data it is actually crucial that you do not include sensitive information on your resume, such as ID Number, date of birth, exact address(yes you can add the city but no need to be specific on the street/home), always be vigilant, scammers also do post out job offers.

  • Put the most relevant information at the top part of your resume, after your name and contact details I'd suggest you show your experience/work history, followed by education and certification, personal/side projects, and skills/technologies you are proficient in. Please do not add hobbies and interests, because you guys end up mentioning that watching TV is your hobby which leads to the recruiter viewing you as disinterested, or lazy. In short, some information is better reserved for a conversation with the interviewer

  • (keep your online profile updated)

  • (tips for great profiles)

  • (keep up to date with current tech news)

  • (try out tech for fun)

  • (be part of a community(share and learn))

Bonus: Places to apply for tech jobs

Here are some places you can apply at, and some platforms:


There are many platforms you can use, such as indeed and the likes

Good luck with your job hunt, I hope that this added value to your knowledge. Please do let me know if any of this helped or if you just want to share leave a comment.

I would love to hear about those successful hire stories. People who are in the recruitment space can also add or suggest what to remove from this post ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜.