The success of a job application lies in the details. In a cut-throat job market, a unique selling point (USP) gives your job application a competitive edge over the hordes of other applicants.

You need to offer something that the competition does not have, and often the most advantageous way to do this is to provide the hiring manager with a strong narrative that shows why you are the best candidate for hire. The often-referred-to maxim “show, don’t tell” is a wonderful way to use the USP perspective effectively.

Why a unique selling point matters

Employers, in seeking to fill vacancies, look to answer one important question when hiring employees – which candidate offers the best return on investment?

A recruitment drive is a huge expense for employers. There’s not only the salary to cover but additional expenses. In the UK, HR advertising costs, perks and benefits, National Insurance and training programmes cost an average £1,068 per employee.

Finding the most suitable person for the job also takes up time and resources. All this spells a substantial investment of time and money. 

How to create a well-articulated unique selling point

While a USP offers your application a distinct advantage, it can be a bit of a challenge to find out what yours is. So, how do you rewrite your story from a USP perspective?

When deciding on your unique selling point, focus on the value you offer in solving problems or challenges a company wants to address (analysing a job AD can prove useful here), rather than just highlighting the skills you have.

HR managers look to hire staff who have the potential to provide solutions: finding ways to improve productivity or ways to save money or make money for the business.

  • Draw on your past work experience

Cross-reference the skills you possess with those specified in the job ad. What were those particular skills or competencies that helped you achieve your goals? Can you identify specific skills or behaviours that helped you bring value to your role? Think about how you would support your USP with concrete relevant examples.

For example, instead of just claiming to be an excellent sales assistant, quantify your achievements, such as “successfully sold 1,871 electrical products out of an assigned 2,000 items” or “awarded top sales assistant award for three consecutive years”.

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  • Tailor USP to the position you’re applying for

Make sure that the skills you choose to showcase your USP are relevant to the position you are applying for. Your aggressive sales abilities may not be as handy in a position as, say, computer programming.

  • Be consistent with your USP message throughout the job application process

Above all else, be honest when it comes to defining your USP. That way there will be consistency throughout your application and you won't have to sweat over having to remember false information.

USPs helps add strength to your job application and answers the HR manager’s favourite question: “Why should I hire you?” While everyone else will have cookie-cutter responses to this question – organised, passionate, dynamic – yours will be a more convincing show of potential and capabilities.

Zulfah Abrahams writes for Inspiring Interns, which helps companies find the perfect intern and career starters the perfect job, in everything from tech jobs to marketing internships.

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