Written by Emily Linginfelter, Marketing and Communications Intern
Many of you picture the employers having this grandeur “a-ha!” moment when they stumble upon your amazing resume. One recruiter might even jump onto the desk and begin singing, “There may be something here that wasn’t there before,” from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Unfortunately, most job searches do not begin as glamorous fairy tales. (Darn that Gaston and his brawns.) Organizations, school districts, businesses and research institutes review hundreds of applications. After that, just ONE person is hired for a position. Below are two keys to making YOUR application unique and memorable.
Before we jump into details, remember that there are many styles and formats for job applications. Every industry- such as education, media or health – may require different content for the cover letters, resumes, portfolios or interviews. For instance, education recruiters may look for qualitative examples (i.e., unique lesson plans) while media recruiters may look for quantitative examples (i.e., increases in audience exposure) for an entry-level position. Schedule an appointment with one of our career coaches to learn more about the basic formats and recommended information for applications in your industry.
The following sections provide advice to add a little flourish to your resumes and interviews. Once again, these are simply suggestions. Your application materials can be written or spoken in a different way that’s unique to your preferences!
This is a super easy tip- Take full ownership for the skills and outcomes you’ve achieved through previous experiences! Students commonly copy and paste old job descriptions and assume they fulfill the bullet point requirements for resumes (I’ve been guilty of this, too!). This strategy, however, leaves many gaps and questions about your experience with that role. One of my professors once had a great analogy; consider job descriptions as the skeletons and your accomplishments as the flesh of resumes. In other words, bring life to your resumes by providing distinct examples that paint a picture of your work ethics. Xavier Career Coach Andrea Mersmann also recommends having experiences organized by order of importance.
As a guiding point, answer these questions for each experience:
- Who? – Who was involved with the project?
- What? – What was the task?
- When? – How long did it take?
- Where? – Where did the task take place?
- Why? – What was the purpose?
- How? – Were specific tools or skills used?
- How many? – Quantify!
Lesson 1: Specify your experiences
The next step is interview preparation. Most people assume the 45-minute meeting is entirely focused on them, the interviewees. Au contraire! Don’t think of the process as an interrogation, but rather a conversation for both parties to know each other. Definitely anticipate those common interview questions, such as “What are three personal weaknesses?” or “Tell me about yourself.” Use the following STAR technique and corresponding questions to draft responses:
Moreover, time should be allocated to researching the employer. Step beyond the website’s “About Us” page and audit social media accounts or media coverage (e.g., read newspaper articles or blog mentions). Explore the education industry by learning about recent trends and competitors. This step not only produces an extra boost of confidence, but the interviewee can also engage in an intelligent conversation that places the employer into broader context. In summation, those who strategically redirect attention away from themselves and toward the company demonstrate genuine interest in the position.
Interested in learning more about interviews? Read pages 23 – 30 in the Xavier CDO Job & Internship Search Guide.
Lesson 2: Place conversations into context
- Specify your experiences
- Place conversations into context
For more career-building advice, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Rather meet one-on-one with a professional? Visit us during our walk-in hours or schedule a 60-minute appointment with a career coach. We are always here to cheer for Y-O-U!