May 29, 2020

Make Your Job Application Stand Out from the Crowd

The United States is experiencing staggering levels of unemployment in the aftermath of COVID-19, which means increased competition for open positions. For job seekers, it’s more important than ever to demonstrate your unique skillset and your potential to add value to the employer’s organization. See below for a compilation of advice around a variety of ways that Evans School job seekers can make their application stand out and have a memorable impression on any hiring manager. 

  • Reach out early and follow up. Personal connections and referrals will make your candidacy stand out in a crowded applicant pool. If you find a position that interests you, reach out to someone on that team to express interest, ask for an informational interview, and learn more about the team and the position. Follow up on your application with the hiring manager if you haven’t heard back (or if you have!). This demonstrates initiative, interest, and strong communication skills while providing a hiring manager with context about you outside of your formal application materials. 

  • Leverage your online presence and network. Look in non-traditional places for opportunities and connections. Follow organizations of interest on Twitter and Facebook and take note of their posts and followers. Use LinkedIn to identify new connections, watch for openings or updates in your news feed, and search for organizations aligning with your interests and values. Use the Evan’s Schools LinkedIn Alumni Search Tool to find connections at target employers. Expand your own LinkedIn presence by linking work samples to your Profile and interacting with others’ posts or creating your own with industry-relevant news or updates.  

  • Broaden the way you describe your experiences. Rather than strictly emphasizing work history to potential employers, add non-traditional experiences to your resume, online employment applications and LinkedIn profiles. Describe academic or research projects, contract or consulting gigs, extracurricular or leadership experiences, community involvement, or volunteering. Consider the transferable skills and policy or stakeholder connections you bring from these activities. 

  • Highlight fit and connection. While a resume should clearly identify the skills that you bring from experience, a cover letter should serve as a bridge between your qualifications and the role at hand. Highlight how the combination of your education, experiences and perspective uniquely position you for the role. Draw connections for the hiring manager between your experiences, training, and interests with the position. Show mission and values alignment when possible. 

It is daunting to dive into a job search during a global pandemic but remember that as an Evans School graduate you bring a wealth of academic training and rich applied experiences from your internships and consulting projects. Focus on generating quality connections and powerful applications so that an employer will easily ascertain the value you will add to their team. 

Questions? Reach out to Director of Career Development Shannon Merchant at