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Even at the very beginning of the application process there are things you can do to set yourself apart from other candidates to get that initial interview with a recruiter.

Follow up your application

Recruiters may receive hundreds of resumes when a new job is posted – and resumes only get a few seconds of his or her attention.  A surefire way to stand out from the crowd is to get in contact with the person reviewing those resumes.  The tricky part might be figuring out who you should try to contact – review the company website or do a search on LinkedIn for anyone in HR at that company.  Even if your message isn’t sent to the exact right person in HR, they’ll probably forward it to that person for you.

Craft your message carefully.  Tell the recruiter that you are very interested in the role and why; let them know you have already filled out the application.  Ask if you can provide additional information that might be helpful.  Instead of submitting a cover letter with your application, make a “cover letter” your follow up note.  Be sure to not ask for any favors or special treatment – you want to make their job easier, not harder.

Fill out the application

ALWAYS fill out the application – and do it first!   Candidates sometimes think they’ll stand out more if they contact the recruiter outside of the application process without submitting their information through the proper channels.

They’re right – they do stand out – but usually not in a good way.  Applications HAVE to be filled out in order to get all relevant information and to meet EEO requirements.  One foolproof way to get OUT of a recruiter’s good graces is to not follow their rules.

Be specific

Make your resume and application specific to the position to which you’re applying.  You’ve probably heard that advice over and over again – and with good reason.  If you’re applying for an accounting position and your resume says you’re seeking an “office manager” role, you’re discarded already.  It’s tedious, I know, and takes extra time to update a resume every time you apply but it is SO worth it.  Recruiters can tell the applicants that really “mean it” and those that don’t.  If you’re worried about the time – apply for fewer positions and only the ones you really want.


Before hitting the “submit” button on your application, take the time to double-check for errors, misspellings, and grammar.  Double-check your resume too.  Yes, one misspelling or mistake can put you out of the running.  Especially if you further describe yourself as “detail-oriented” and “accurate”.

Apply Early

On a job search – check EVERY day for new postings and try to apply to a job on the first day it is posted. Usually after the first week a position is open a good candidate pool has been established and it’s unusual to add more candidates to that pool unless he or she is a perfect match.  So, apply early and definitely apply within the first week.

Following these 5 tips will help you stand out to the recruiter and show him or her how wonderful you are and how much you deserve the chance to have an initial interview…and hopefully seal the deal on that new job!

Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt is a former member of the Purple Ink team. She has a special interest in career coaching and recruiting and finds joy when she can connect the right person to the right opportunity.

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