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The makeup of the ideal candidate for any given position is always subject to change. Market conditions shift, standards rise or fall, and terms of employment are altered. When the world of business is at its calmest, that change takes place gradually: this allows everyone to slowly acclimate by updating their attitude and revising their approach accordingly.

As we all discovered in the fateful time of early 2020, though, change can arrive in the blink of an eye. Office-based jobs became remote overnight. Interpersonal skills faded in significance as raw productivity became the key metric for every company facing an existential threat. Those who were the most adaptable and autonomous thrived while others struggled.

Today, we must navigate an awkward area between pre-pandemic life and the darkest days of COVID-19 lockdowns. Offices are once again viable, but they remain risky for both personal and corporate health. Businesses are eager to reinvest in workers, yet they’re understandably worried about adding to their outgoings with the threat of a resurgence always looming.

Maybe you’ve outgrown your current role and you’re eager to prove your value to a prospective employer. Perhaps you’re just starting your career but worry about finding a place given the competition out there: the global population keeps on rising, after all, and there’s only so much work available. Regardless, you’re determined to stand out — so how can you achieve that? How can you make yourself a leading candidate?

To help you impress prospective employers, we’re going to consider what skills and experiences you can work on and/or highlight in your CV. The better your CV gets, the more interview chances you’ll get, and the more offers you’ll receive. Here’s what your CV should show:

The initiative to operate without consistent instruction

The days of tightly-controlled office spaces aren’t over, exactly, but it’s undeniably true that the tried-and-tested model has lost most of its appeal — and this has serious consequences for employee onboarding in particular. New starters used to be closely observed for weeks, with all their missteps immediately noted and all their tasks backed through patient guidance.

If you you primarily (or exclusively) work remotely in your current or previous role, however — particularly if you work remotely for company based overseas, which is increasingly possible via solutions like Remote — you’ll rarely have the luxury of popping by someone’s desk to ask for assistance, so you’ll need to be comfortable figuring things out with little guidance.

This makes life harder for those who habitually defer to authority. If you’re always reaching out to ask questions because you can’t figure things out for yourself, you’ll be an inconvenience for your employer. Due to this, you should clearly note in your CV that you’re fully capable of getting to grips with new systems and tools with minimal support.

The point isn’t to let companies off the hook when it comes to training. It’s simply to make it clear that you’re a well-rounded professional who knows how to conduct research and find answers without being handed them. If you can do that, you’ll show that you’re a strong asset, and that anyone who takes a chance on you won’t regret it.

Self-employment as a freelancer or an entrepreneur

We’re all familiar with how absurd experience requirements can be: you’ll sometimes see companies ask for several years of experience with systems that haven’t been in existence for that long. But this doesn’t mean that work experience isn’t legitimately important, because it clearly is. What you’ve done before speaks to what you can do in the future.

So beyond aiming to meet whatever the minimum requirements may be, you should talk about your experiences with self-employment — something that many people tried for the first time out of necessity during the early days of the pandemic. Have you spent any time as a freelancer, offering a service or simply consulting? If so, how did you negotiate with clients? What did you learn throughout? Any insight you can offer will strengthen your case, as freelancers need to be steadfastly professional to succeed.

And then there’s the entrepreneurial route of looking for other ways to make money. Education has boomed somewhat as an industry, with many professionals creating and monetizing online courses. If you have valuable skills, that route is worth trying: there are countless tutorials out there, and tools to help you grow your course once you’ve assembled it. If you’d rather sell conventional products, ecommerce is viable given the ease of options like dropshipping and print-on-demand. Just be mindful of the risks involved.

If you can showcase a solid amount of self-employment experience, you’ll highlight your dedication and ability to forge your own path if no one will provide one for you. This will also suggest that you can bring something new to the table if given a position of responsibility.

The ability to discern what an employer is looking for

Lastly, a skill that needs to shine through in your CV is having the clarity of mind and attention to detail to astutely identify what the employer is looking for. After all, if you don’t know what they want, how can you show that you’re the right person for the job? And the more capably you can cut to the heart of their needs (not just what type of candidate they want, but also why they want them), the more they’ll be inclined to bring you in for an interview.

Every company has different ambitions, naturally. Even making money isn’t always a target: if you’re looking to work in the charity world, for instance, your ability to raise revenue might not work to your advantage as much as an understanding of social structures. So when you’re tweaking your CV for a given position (and you should implement such tweaks), put a lot of thought into what really matters to that company.

Maybe its objective is to change the world in some major way. If so, you can paint yourself as someone with big dreams, unafraid to take risks in an effort to achieve the remarkable. Or perhaps it’s all about industrial stability, in which case you can stress your financial acumen and comment at length on your reliability. You should avoid outright deception, but it shouldn’t be necessary: people are multi-faceted, so you need only draw out your most relevant facets.

Wrapping up, while concentrating on these things in your CV won’t guarantee success, it will certainly help your chances. They’re far from common, after all: many candidates are reasonably competent but can’t offer any of them. Keep your CV succinct, use a simple design, be patient, and excel whenever an interview comes along. Good luck!