A question we often get from eager job hunters is ‘How can I get on the career ladder?’. For instance, if you’re searching for your first job or pivoting into a new career path, backing up your interest with the right set of qualifications and skills can be challenging. So how can you make your application stand out from the rest? Here are 5 ways to boost your job profile as an emerging talent.

1. Create a stellar profile summary

A profile summary is essentially a quick forecast of what the reader will discover when reading your CV, LinkedIn, Portfolio or rest of the template. Why is it important? First and foremost, with an average recruiter spending no more than 6 seconds skimming through an application this is your opportunity to grab their attention. Moreover, this is also where you can state clearly what you’re looking for. Try to be as precise as possible. Remember, it’s not a hiring manager’s job to figure out how and where you’d fit into their company.

Finally, consider this as the first step to building a case in your favour. Each time you add a qualification, a work experience or a technical skill, it must backup what you stated in the profile summary. You want the reader to think, “no wonder [Laura] wants to be a [UX designer] because look at what she’s studied and done during her internship”. If you haven’t already, take the time to reflect on your interests, strengths and expertise, and create an ace profile summary of maximum 50 words. Then add it to your job hunting templates.

2. Include projects and/or portfolios

If you’re just starting off your career or entering into a whole new expert area, you likely have little to no relevant work experience under your belt. This job you’re applying for is probably your chance to get that much valuable experience. However, you still have to prove that you can put knowledge into practice. A great way to do so is by discussing the projects you’ve done in school, university or on the side as a hobby. Present them as you would a work experience. Elaborate on the problem you tried to solve, the final outcome and what your role was. Highlight the tools and technologies you used. When possible include links to where the reader could dive deeper into the project and find out more.

3. Highlight life skills

‘Life skills’ are essential to successfully navigate through life in general, whether it’s at work, school or home. These include skills such as leadership, interpersonal communication, collaboration, negotiation, and so forth. By default, we’re all expected to have developed some or most of these skills to an accepted level. This is why simply adding a list of the most trendy skills to your CV will not achieve much. However, if there are some concrete examples you could give to elaborate on a few of your strongest qualities, that can add great value. For instance, if you were a ‘Project Leader’, a ‘Tutor’ or a ‘Sports Coach’, draw on that to highlight your leadership skills. Moreover, if you organized events, raised funds, edited a newsletter or on-boarded first year students at university, think of what specific skills you used and developed. Then, add them to your CV.

4. Get recommendations

Hiring a new talent is a tough job. It’s impossible to fully assess how someone will fit or not fit into a role. So each time an employer makes a new recruit they take a leap of faith. When hiring an emerging talent the potential risk is that much more. This is why hearing from someone who knows you can ease some of that uncertainty. If you don’t have a previous employer yet, fear not. A referee can come in many forms. It could be your teacher, professor or thesis supervisor. Or a fellow team member of a project you worked together on. It can even be a friend, a neighbour or the librarian from the time you stacked books that one summer.

Either way, as long as the feedback is honest, constructive and clearly speaks to your capabilities and motivations, it will go a long way. I remember using my mom’s friend as a referee when applying for my first job, many moons ago. Let me tell you, there’s no shame in that.

5. Show your motivation

As an emerging talent ‘motivation’ is your biggest commodity. If there’s a chance to add a cover letter or a motivational statement, never ever skip it. The best way for you to set yourself apart from the crowd is to show how you are the best candidate for this specific position in this specific company.

However, saying you’re passionate about learning new coding languages or enjoy meeting new people is not enough. Give examples, i.e. Talk about how you spent an entire summer learning Python on your own or signed up as a buddy and helped international students to adapt to a whole new culture. If you volunteered to get your city councillor elected and went door to door campaigning, here’s your chance to discuss that. Show your future employer you got what it takes to rock this role and a willingness to learn what you don’t know yet. You got this!

For more tips and tricks on searching for your first job check out the Guide to Startup Job Hunting today.