Finding Your Difference: How to Stand Out in a Sea of Candidates

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Getting noticed can be half the challenge when starting out in your career, so we spoke to industry insiders for practical tips you can apply to truly stand out. Our experts are here to tell you what makes a candidate unforgettable, how to approach your dream company and why the things you do outside of the classroom can set you apart.

Show initiative 

Nicolas Chu, Founder and CEO of Sinorbis and UNSW AGSM MBA Alumnus shared the first time someone approached him directly and how it caught his attention in an unexpected way. "He reached out to me directly on LinkedIn. I thought he was trying to sell me something, but he actually said I’d love to have coffee with you, I'm really interested in learning more about Sinorbis,” says Nicolas. 

Nicolas Chu

The candidate’s initiative, knowledge of Sinorbis and interest in learning more impressed Nicolas so much that he created a new role and hired him. 

UNSW Careers recommends LinkedIn as a great way to get career insights, learn more about a company and what skills to develop for your job application. 

The secret is to start making connections from your first year. By making connections over a long time, not at the end of your degree, it builds stronger relationships with your contacts.  

LinkedIn’s Alumni Search function is a great place to start, making it easier to reach out to UNSW’s community of over 300,000 alumni. It might be daunting the first time you message someone on LinkedIn, but remember they were once in your shoes and are usually happy to connect. 


Be a life-long learner 

Nobody matches a job description 100% and, if they do, they’re probably going to get bored quickly. Alternatively, demonstrating that you’re someone who is driven and always developing yourself shows great growth potential to employers. 

Sapna Patel

Being committed to continued learning shows your interest and willingness to improve yourself. Sapna Patel, Founder and CEO of ImmiAdvisor and UNSW Bachelor of Commerce/Law Alumna, says she’s inspired by people who never give up on their goals.  

“I am always looking for team members who are serious about growth and are willing to put in the necessary work every day to accomplish their goals and develop not only professionally but also in their personal lives,” says Sapna. 

Discover how lifelong learning leads to lifelong employability.


Add your flair 

Finding the quality that sets you apart can make you an unforgettable candidate for all the right reasons. If you can bring something new to a team’s dynamic, it can be critical to how that team performs. 

Double degrees are a great way to bring a unique perspective and are offered by all UNSW faculties. A second degree in Arts can bring a valuable dimension to how you think about Engineering problems. Employers don’t want to form a team of people with all the same experiences, knowledge and approaches – they’re looking for a wide range of skills. 

Blair Slater

Getting outside of the classroom is also a great way to diversify your experiences, says UNSW Portfolio Lead of Student Career-Ready Connections Blair Slater. A great place to start is the UNSW Advantage program, where you can find co-curricular experiences such as internships, volunteering and professional development programs.  


Don’t downplay your achievements 

This is a reminder we all need at times. That student-led art exhibition you were in last year? Your role on the leadership team of your student society? They're a big deal when it comes to getting a job 

“Employers always want to see what you have done outside of the classroom, what opportunities have you taken advantage of, what experiences you have,” says Blair.  

You might think employers won’t care about these achievements, but these activities are where you develop essential soft skills that industry are looking for. Communication skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills are the top three skills that employers assess during the recruitment process (AAGE 2020 Employer Survey).  


The most effective part of these industry-insider tips? You'll start applying them from your very first year at UNSW. They’re how UNSW students get noticed by industry and get consistently ranked the most employable in Australia by GradConnection and the Australian Financial Review. 

Get to know more industry opportunities that will get you noticed