How To Make Your Job Application Stand Out

19th November 2020 No comments
How To Make Your Job Application Stand Out

Preparing a job application can be gruelling, unrewarding and unfulfilling. The problem is that many employers take a cold, robotic approach to job applications. They remove as much humanity from the process as possible. And they don’t take the time to explain what it takes to stand out from the crowd. We try to not be like that here.

In this article, I’m going to share some of the things we look for from job seekers. Even if we’re not hiring when you read this, my tips might help you apply for jobs with similar companies. I hope you find them useful!


Demonstrate Your Creativity

Southpoint Films is a corporate video production company. We make videos about industrial vacuum cleaners, commercial cooking equipment and corporate exhibitions. (Amongst other things!) You can look at our portfolio for more examples of the work we do.

When hiring, we’re looking for people who can create exciting videos about relatively mundane subjects. CVs, covering letters and job application forms are also relatively mundane. What can you do to jazz yours up?

Gift bags full of glitter and face cakes might be a bit much, but a sprinkle of creative flair can go a long way. It’ll help your application stand out.

Over the years I’ve seen a number of clever, creative and memorable CVs. One job seeker recorded a video CV, which was highly creative and engaging. Another had designed their CV to look like the interface for Adobe Premiere. They’d put their details where other text (like clip names) would usually go. Both were miles apart from your typical “Times New Roman” CV.

My Own Experience

Even if the job application form constrains you, use whatever opportunity you have to demonstrate your creativity.

My creative job application when I was applying to work at Apple. I framed my face with an original iPad, which didn't have a camera

When I was a student I applied for a job at my local Apple Store. The application form was a typical “big company” job application form. It was quite limited. However, I was allowed to upload a photo of myself. So I decided to frame my face with an original iPad, which didn’t have a camera.

For 10 minutes of effort in Photo Booth and 20 minutes in Photoshop, it certainly paid off. My interviewer told me that the photo helped me land the job. They loved it because it was creative and different to the other applications that they’d received. As a result, I stood out. And I earned myself a wonderful job that saw me through my time at university.

Show Off Your Work

Filming for Care Friends, an app that helps care companies receive more job applications
Filming for Care Friends, an app that helps care companies receive more job applications.

If you’re applying for a production role, you’ll need to include samples of your work. How will we know what you can do if we can’t see your skills in action?

For creative jobs it’s typical to send a portfolio of work with your application. A portfolio can be anything from a website to a social media profile or a YouTube Channel. We have a portfolio for our company here on our website. We have specific advice about creating a portfolio in another article.

Alternatively, you might prefer to create an edited showreel. This is usually a 60 to 90 second video that includes the best bits of your entire portfolio. We have a showreel for our company on our home page.

If you can’t show full projects (such as for copyright reasons), a showreel can be a good alternative. A showreel can also be more engaging if you’ve only worked on long-form content, or you’ve got a lot of variety in your portfolio. When reviewing a lot of applications, we’d prefer to watch a short showreel than sit through a long video, or several different videos. (We can always ask for full length videos later.)

What We Look For In Portfolios And Showreels

When we look at showreels and portfolio entries, we’re trying to see if your style is a good fit for our business. We’re also looking to see if you have the right technical expertise for the job you’re applying for. Make sure all examples are relevant.

You should also explain what your involvement was if you’re sharing a piece of group work. We don’t want to be judging your portfolio for the editing if you were the camera operator, for example. (This is particularly important for students.)

How To Include Your Work In A Job Application

If you’re applying for a creative role, hopefully you’ll be asked to submit examples of your work alongside your application. However, if not, make sure your covering letter includes a really obvious way for the employer to find your work.

Include a link to your portfolio or showreel – and make sure it’s easily accessible. Don’t hide your work behind a password or login system. And under no circumstances use platforms that only allow your work to be downloaded, like WeTransfer.

Don’t Forget About “You”

Filming with Family Mental Wealth in our studio. There are two cameras, lights and a backdrop set up.
It can be uncomfortable sitting in the hot seat. That’s why us production folks spend our time behind the camera. But don’t forget to talk about yourself.

In our industry it’s very common to focus heavily on technical skills. While it’s important to mention which cameras you’ve used and which editing software you’re familiar with, don’t let that get in the way of telling us who you are.

Let’s say you’re a recent graduate. While you were at university, were you involved in a club or society (such as student media)? Did you play on a sports team? Were you a course rep? Make sure you let us know. Being involved in extra-curricular activities like these says a lot about who you are. For example, they show that you did more than the bare minimum to get your degree.

What about your hobbies and interests? I’m a big fan of music and I often go to gigs and music festivals. Over the years I’ve had many unexpectedly lovely conversations with colleagues and clients about music. I’ve spoken to clients who are musicians in their spare time; I’ve had conversations with others about the quality of the lineups at various summer festivals; and I’ve also been able to utilise my passion for music when we’ve been commissioned to work at music festivals and other music events.

Don’t underestimate what your own interests could bring to the table. At the end of the day we want to hire awesome people that our colleagues and clients will enjoy working with. So don’t forget to show off what sort of person you are!

Do Your Homework

Filming for Eurofood at the London Underground Cookery School in Shoreditch, London.
Filming for Eurofood at the London Underground Cookery School in Shoreditch.

This one should seem obvious, but make sure you know who you’re applying for a job with. This can be time consuming when you’re sending out lots of applications, but you won’t get very far if you’re applying for a job that’s not right for you.

For example, we often receive CVs from people who want to work in television or feature films. Yet a quick browse of our website would tell anyone that we make corporate videos. Naturally, those applications don’t go very far.

We have another article that shares some of the common mistakes that job seekers make. It’s definitely worth checking out.

We have so much content on our website that shows what we do and how we do it. A great application would draw parallels between your experience and ours, and let us know how you could help with the work we do. It may seem like a lot of effort to go through, but you have a higher chance of being hired if your application connects with us.

At the end of the day, we want to hire people who are serious about working at our company. And we want to hire people who want to work on the sorts of projects we take on. If your application doesn’t tell us that you’re that person, you’ll almost certainly be overlooked.


A Few Final Thoughts

Regardless of the advice I’ve given in this article, there’s no magic formula for making a great job application. But hopefully my advice gives you an idea of what we look for when we hire – and what sort of things impress us. I’m pretty sure other employers will be looking for the same sorts of things, too.

We don’t hire for permanent jobs regularly at Southpoint Films, but when we do we’re looking to work with the best people we can find. Naturally, our expectations are high. But in my experience, a little goes a long way.

Job seeking is hard, but even if you don’t find yourself getting anywhere, don’t let that get you down. There are plenty of jobs out there and persistence is the key to success. Good luck – I hope we’ll be seeing an application from you soon!

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