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How to Stand Out in Your Job/Internship Application

Updated: 3 days ago

We've all at some point applied for something meaningful to us and asked, how do I stand out when there are so many other applicants? In today's competitive job market, ensuring you stand out in a large sea of applicants is crucial to landing that dream job or internship.

The good news is, there are a few ways you can make your application attract greater attention!

1. Craft a Strong Resume

There is one consistent piece of the pie in every single job and internship application, your resume. Your resume is your first (and in some cases only) impression on employers, so make it count! Ensure it is clean, concise, and that you are tailoring it to the specific application you are submitting. Highlight the skills, accomplishments, and experiences that directly align with the position. Make sure it's more than just a list of job duties and tasks; this is your chance to show what you can do, and what things you uniquely can add to the team.

It is crucial that you have a "key" resume, which serves as a foundational template. However, keep in mind that for each application to a specific company, it's important to create a distinct resume tailored to fit the requirements outlined in their job posting (this is a blog I have coming soon... so follow our Instagram to keep up to date on my blogs and other AO announcements). If you lack traditional work experience, use your resume to focus on your relevant courses, projects, or any volunteering/extracurricular activities that have helped you develop meaningful skills.

2. Write and Submit a Strong Cover Letter

Never underestimate the power of a well-crafted cover letter. Use this as an opportunity to express why you are genuinely interested in the role you are applying to, showcase a bit of personality, and explain how your unique skills make you a perfect fit. This can be a great place to also highlight any additional information you couldn't fit or was not as relevant on your resume! Address the hiring manager by name if possible, and be sure to customize each cover letter to the specific job posting. Many students choose not to submit a cover letter because many job applications make them optional. Do not do this! If you are truly hoping to stand out, it's not only an additional opportunity to showcase your interest but to demonstrate you care enough about the role to submit one! If nothing else, it's an additional piece of an application to demonstrate you are a strong, interested candidate to take notice of.

3. Build an Online Portfolio to Include in Applications (If Relevant)

Some positions and fields may find it beneficial to see past work experience or projects that the skills mentioned on your resume and cover letter. This is common in fields like fine arts, marketing, graphic design, or social media, but can be seen in other industries as well. Having an online portfolio to show your work with these projects and demonstrate you can actually "walk the walk" rather than "talk the talk" helps hiring managers remember you! Refer to my past blog on how to craft a professional portfolio if it sounds beneficial to your application and field!

4. Network

Networking is one of the most powerful tools in today's job market. Attend your school's career fairs, join professional groups on social media platforms, and connect with alumni from your college/high school who are in your field! Establishing meaningful connections can open doors to opportunities that may not be advertised. Don't ever be afraid to formally message someone on LinkedIn, for example, and ask for informational interviews or advice. Here is an example of a message I've sent to someone:

Hello (Name),

I hope this message finds you well. I recently came across your post regarding the opportunity for a summer internship at (insert company name). I noticed you graduated from (insert your school) in (insert year), I am currently a (insert your graduation year; i.e. Junior) at (insert your school) and would love to chat with a fellow Eagle! (Or your mascot!)

I am majoring in (insert your major or minors), and am enthusiastic about the possibility of interning at (insert company name), your firsthand experience would be invaluable as I consider applying for the internship. (Insert company name) is a company I have had a long-time interest in, and I would love to hear a perspective from someone who has had experience on the other side of it. I'm interested in building my career in (insert major/interests) and doing so at (insert company name). I would appreciate any advice you could provide in pursuing this. If you have some time, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to connect with you over Zoom or any platform that suits you in order to gain insights into your experiences prior to applying. Please let me know if you are available for a brief chat at your earliest convenience. I am flexible and can accommodate your schedule. Thank you for considering my request, and I look forward to the possibility of connecting with you further!

5. Continue to Build Your Skill Sets

Continuously seek opportunities to enhance your unique skill sets. Attend any relevant and optional AO workshops, take online courses, and participate in relevant extracurricular activities. Some platforms, such as LinkedIn Learning, are free and available to students when they utilize their university email accounts. This can be a great way to enhance your LinkedIn page, as well as explore new opportunities and topics with low stakes! Showcase these skills on relevant parts of your resume, in your interviews, etc. to demonstrate you have a commitment to both personal and professional growth.

6. Showcase a Professional Online Presence

When people say to remember your digital footprint, they mean it! I have been in job interviews in which they stated they had looked at my personal social media, and I have been on a hiring team where we did the same for applicants. Ensure your social media profiles and online presence are professional and align with the image you are okay with employers seeing. Clean up any inappropriate content and highlight your professional achievements. Many employers will Google you, so make sure what they find reflects positively on you.

7. Seek Feedback

Don't hesitate to seek feedback on your application materials. Go to your college's career center/services, professors, mentors, trusted peers, and even AO staff members for constructive criticism! Incorporating feedback helps refine your documents and ensures you're putting your best foot forward. When in doubt, schedule a meeting with our career counselor, Olivia, to chat further about your goals, seek specific feedback, and seek guidance in your next steps!

8. Stay Positive!

Job and internship hunting can be challenging, rigorous, and at times discouraging, but maintaining a positive outlook throughout is part of making sure you set yourself apart! Keep refining your approach, learn from each application process and each rejection, and celebrate small victories along the way. Your resilience and positivity will shine through in your applications and interviews. The right fit will find you and the right role for you is out there!

Remember, every step you take towards standing out brings you one step closer to your goals. Best of luck in your job and internship, cheers to your success!


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