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Remember that thing that sits on your desk hiding behind a pile of paper? It’s a telephone, and back in the 20th century people used it to communicate with each other. Instead of firing off strings of emails, we talked directly to each other, and discussed issues and problems. We even solved some of them instantly.

That might be an exaggeration, but in an age where we’ve come to rely on electronic media to the extent that you might, conceivably, email your colleague at the next desk to discuss where you’re going for lunch, something’s gone slightly wrong.

We all use technology nowadays in our personal and business life. And you might think it’s a no-brainer to utilise every electronic trick you can when searching for a new job.

But is it? If you and 20 – or 200 – others are going for one position, what’s going to make you stand out? Not a well-presented CV – everyone with any sense will have one. And not a high social media profile. Everyone will have one of those, too.

Adding the human factor

Not even a nice, shiny LinkedIn profile, chock-full of impressive contacts and glowing testimonies. Because, again, most of your competitors will be able to show off similar credentials.

But going back to a quill pen and parchment isn’t going to get you anywhere, either. Indeed, you should harness technology to make your CV look as good as it can. However, armed with your well-presented, up to date resumé, you should introduce the human factor.

Being proactive can give you a significant advantage if there’s stiff competition for a position. Start by targeting the job you want, then identify the right person to deal with at the relevant company and pick up the phone. It’s a smart move to personalise your application by making a call instead of just using the internet to make contact. The person that uses the phone gets noticed.

When you’re talking to someone you provide them with a good idea of who you are and what you’re about. Obviously, you need to come across in the right way and there’s nothing wrong in rehearsing what you’re going to say and ‘polishing your act’. In fact it makes sense.

How candidates can stand out

Clearly you do need to show experience and a good ability to use social networks. But by relying solely on an electronic profile, you’re depersonalising yourself.

When candidates of equal experience and ability come up against each other, sociability and teamwork could prove the crucial factors in securing the job. If you’ve already made direct, human contact with your interviewer, you may just have given yourself the edge.

Even if you don’t land the job, you should extend your new policy to making a follow-up call. Interviewers are, more often than not, happy to explain where you might have fallen short of what they were looking for, so their advice will be excellent preparation for the next interview. It won’t hurt if you ever go for another position with the same organisation, either.

And of course it would be remiss of me not to mention the importance of the role of recruiters, too. This is the one personal relationship that will prove most fruitful when it comes to finding your next role. The more you get to know your recruiter – and the more your recruiter gets to know you – the easier it will be to get your next move right, whether it’s a short-term contract or a permanent position.

By Jonathan Stanley, Associate Business Manager at Huxley Engineering.