In your job search, you’re always aiming to set yourself apart from the competition and be different from the sea of candidates a company is likely interviewing.

But what really sets great candidates apart from those who are just “good?”

Here are three differentiators to focus on when you want to be a great candidate:

#1: Hard skills PLUS soft skills

Every employer is looking for people with the hard skills necessary to do the job; the technical or mechanical knowledge needed day-to-day to get the work done. And you can rest assured you’ll be screened for those skills and asked questions about them during the interview process. But it’s also important to realize that soft skills are what sets the best candidates apart. These are the intangible skills, the ones not so easily defined – great communication skills, leadership abilities, and multitasking strengths, for example. Focusing on these skills during the interview process can really put you ahead of the competition.

#2: Aligning with company values

Before interviewing with a company, do some research to learn about their company values. That way, you can make a point to tell the hiring manager how you align with these values. Organizations are looking for people that align with their core values – because those candidates tend to stick around, rather than leave for greener pastures at the first opportunity. It’s one of the subtle things that truly sets the great candidates apart from the middle of the pack.

#3: Fitting with the future of the company

The best candidates don’t just mesh with the company in its current state. They fit the vision that top leadership has for the future of the organization. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask the hiring manager where they see the company going – and what things might look like in one, three, or five years. If you can make it clear that you’ll fit in with the future of the company and can help facilitate success moving forward, you’re setting yourself apart from candidates who are only concerned with getting hired in the here and now.

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