Ask a Recruiter: What Makes a Candidate Stand Out?

Ask a Recruiter, For Candidates

proactive recruiting strategies

In the vast sea of applications that recruiters sift through to find the ideal candidate, how can job seekers stand out to increase their chances of landing a job? Our team came together to talk about what catches their eye the most about an executive applicant.  


Resume structure 

One thing that stands out about a candidate is how they tailor their qualifications and skills for a job opening. 90% of recruiting is done on software that provides limited information – mainly just resumes – so all that hiring authorities have is what the candidate has uploaded. We do, however, notice if applicants have an exceptionally good resume, or if it needs work.  

Many job seekers have great qualifications, but they aren’t always presented well on their resume. We might suggest for candidates to revise their resume to address the issues that were found, including: 

  • Grammatical and spelling errors
  • Having a resume that is too short or too long 
  • Not enough bullet points to cover their relevant experience 
  • Having an AOL email address or including a home number, which are seen as outdated contact information 
  • Listing hobbies, which can appear unprofessional and irrelevant by some hiring authorities
  • Listing an “Objective” at the top of their resume, which can be seen as redundant since applying for a certain role already addresses the objective  
  • Adding the phrase “References available upon request,” which is also not necessary to include since it’s implied that the candidate can provide references if the hiring authority asks for it near the end of the process 


Career progression 

It is common for an individual to change positions more rapidly early in their career. This is not a problem provided that the moves seem rational and progressive. We look for steady advancement with reasonable tenure in each position.  

It’s suggested that candidates be very careful when considering a new position – is it clearly a move forward? Does the position represent growth? How will the move be perceived? Is the market position of the company consistent with prior assignments? These are basic principles for candidates to consider in terms of long-term career building and what we look for every time we review a candidate. 


The energy candidates bring from the get-go 

Aside from experience, it is all about personality. As one HR professional once said to our firm, “You can fake experience, but you can’t fake personality.” You either have charisma, or you don’t. It requires positive energy and enthusiasm to make a lasting impression on recruiters and hiring authorities. Unfortunately, if an applicant’s personality doesn’t shine while talking to us during the phone screening, then they likely will not stand out from the other candidates being considered by us and our clients. 


How candidates present themselves during the process 

As vital as it is in the hiring process, there’s only so much recruiters and hiring authorities can learn about a candidate from a resume or LinkedIn profile. Candidates can stand out based on their attitude towards us on the phone, the way they speak about their passions and leadership qualities, and how they approach each interview stage. This includes how they treat us during our initial contact and subsequent steps, how they answer “interview-style” questions, and elements of their character that can reflect on how they will be if they are hired for the role.

Are they genuine and sincere? Were they punctual for calls and meetings? Are they responsive when it is time to schedule official interviews? Do they make an effort to stand out? Did they send a thank you note? Taking such factors into consideration can play in the candidate’s favor in order to distinguish themselves.


Swimming with immense numbers of applicants can be difficult, but focusing on the points our team provided might just give you the right shimmer to be spotted and advance through the process. Remember, recruiters are on your side during your career journey. Don’t overlook making a positive impression on them as well as future employers! 

Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 55 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; CBD; Facility and Concession; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Healthcare; Hotel and Resort; Nonprofit; Restaurant and Foodservice; and Travel, Tourism, and Attraction industries.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a candidate.

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