- Yvonne Agyei runs Booking.com’s worldwide recruitment efforts, and her team gets about 400,000 applications a year.
- She said that standing out in a huge applicant pool is about being prepared, thoughtful, and genuine.
- Even if you have a gap on your resume or career hiccup, that doesn’t necessarily take you out of the running.
The number of applications Booking.com receives every year is staggering: 400,000, to be precise.
But how can anyone stand out among hundreds of thousands of applicants?
We asked Yvonne Agyei, Booking.com’s chief people officer, who is responsible for recruitment worldwide. Along with her 500 colleagues in human resources, Agyei selects candidates from piles and piles of resumes. Only one in 15,000 applicants is selected for a job at Booking.com.
Here are her best tips to distinguish yourself when thousands of people are applying for the job you want:
1. Adjust your resume and cover letter to the position
“Customize your CV and cover letter and any other material to the specific role you are interested in,” said Agyei.
And don’t be too modest: “Don’t be afraid to show relevant skills and experiences that you may have gained through a personal passion or hobby,” she added.
2. Study, study, study
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“Do your homework,” said Agyei. “Spend time understanding our corporate culture, values, and mission. Make sure you take a look at our website and apps.”
Whether or not you want to work at Booking.com, this is good practice for any interview. “Learn as much as possible about the company before applying, and certainly when you are invited to interview,” she said.
3. Come with questions
As you read up on the company, write down your questions.
“Come and ask questions about how we work and why — unlike others — we focus on certain areas,” said Agyei. “Be curious and show us that you have taken the time to think about what we do and how you fit in with our future plans and ambitions.”
4. Show how you stand out
“At Booking.com, we are not only interested in how well you can code or how fantastic you are in inspiring a large team,” said Agyei, who pointed out that those skills can also be important, depending on the job.
“Above all, we also want to know how you maintain yourself in a fast-paced, enterprising culture like the one we built at Booking.com,” she continued.
Are you curious and driven to experiment and learn new things? Do you stand out in collaboration with others? How do you deal with failure? In short: Show in the interview how you stand out.
5. Focus on how your values align with the company’s
According to Agyei, it is incredibly important to find a candidate with values that fit within the organization: “Both for us, as well as for the possible new employee. When I’m looking for someone for my own team, I always ask if a colleague wants to join the conversation,” she said.
She continued: “This person only focuses on discovering whether the candidate really clicks between our culture and values.”
6. Try to enjoy your interview, and be honest
And most importantly, said Agyei, “Try to enjoy the experience.”
A gap in your resume or a previous miss in your career is not a disaster.
“Don’t be afraid to share your mistakes and what you learned from them. It shows that you are humble and have the ability to learn and adapt,” she continued.
7. Don’t try to ‘sell’ yourself
“When it’s your turn to talk, don’t think that you should ‘sell’ yourself,” said Agyei. “Again: relax, ask questions and don’t be afraid to show who you really are.”
The simple reason? “Joining a company is a bit like going into a long-term relationship,” Agyei said.
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