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5 Unconventional Ways to Stand Out to Employers

Nobody likes rejection, especially for a dream job or internship position. Oftentimes, even when you are qualified for the position and check all the boxes on the job description, you still get the long-dreaded email with “We’re sorry to tell you that we have moved forward with another candidate.”

This is not the end of the world. This is the time to take this opportunity and make yourself stand out. Here are some unconventional ways to stand out to employers among a pool of applicants and increase your chances of landing your dream job.

1. Send a thank you card/email after an interview

If you can remember only one thing from reading this article, let this be the one. This is so important and can get you a long way. This seems like a mundane thing that wouldn’t really make you stand out. But you’d be surprised, not many people do this and follow up with employers after the interview. Doing this shows employers you CARE about the position and appreciate their time.

Always send an email to the interviewer within one to two days after the interview (during business days) to thank them for their time and that you look forward to hearing from them and potentially work with them. This is also a good opportunity for you to send over your LinkedIn page, portfolio, writing samples, website, and recommendation letter (if any). This way, not only can employers understand your skills and abilities better, but they can also see that you’re putting an effort, being proactive and taking initiative with giving them information, allowing them to make a more informed decision.

Aside from sending a thank you email, if the interviewer is in office (during non-pandemic circumstances), to take this even further and impress the employers, you should mail them a nice thank you card through the office mailing address. Sending an email is easy, but mailing a card specifically for the interviewer shows that you care and are willing to go through the trouble of physically writing and mailing a card. This will definitely make you stand out and create a better impression.

Related: Navigating Job Recruitment During COVID-19: Here’s What Some Experts Have to Say

2. Show effort with your LinkedIn profile

Nowadays, employers not only look at your resume and cover letter, they also like to research and seek out additional information about your education, work background and skills. It is crucial that you have your LinkedIn profile set up to let employers know that you are taking the time and effort to build a professional profile and presence.

 Make sure you have a professional photo/headshot for your LinkedIn page instead of using the standard default avatar, and upload a nice background photo as your LinkedIn page banner that represents what you stand for or the field you’re interested in. You can even create a graphic yourself using tools, such as Canva, to use as your background banner as bonus points! 

It is also important that you not only put down your previous positions, but also bullet point descriptions and statements below each position to explain to employers what you did, accomplish and learn from the job position, like how you would on your resume. Except you can go into more detail if you wish, since you are not confined to limit everything into one or two pages like you would with your resume. Make sure you add appropriate skills and certificates if any and update your profile page regularly, especially right before you apply for a job position.

Related: How to Create Your Own Website

3. Build yourself a portfolio website

Building yourself a portfolio website can tell employers three things – that you are willing to take the extra mile to develop your professional portfolio and presence and that you take your career very seriously; that you want to make it easier for employers to get to know you, the skills you possess and the work you’ve done in the past; and that you are tech-savvy and are good with digital tools. This is also a great thing to have “on hand” to refer employers or your network to.

You don’t have to know HTML and coding in order to do this. Anybody who has basic computer and Internet skills is perfectly capable of doing this. There is a multitude of simple website builders online that you can utilize to build your portfolio website. Some examples would be Wix, Weebly, WordPress, Squarespace and Site 123.

4. Show that you did your research

Do your research before your interview and SHOW the employers that. For instance, when the interviewer asks you why you wanted to work for their company and with this position specifically, tell them that you did some research and tell them a few interesting things you liked about the company, position, or even their website. Point out the little things to show that you didn’t just look at the job description and call it a day. Show that you took the time and effort to look at their company website and do the research. This will impress employers and show them you’re passionate about working for the company and through the position.

Related: How to Build Your Professional Profile at Home During COVID-19

5. Find something you have in common with the interviewer

Aside from researching the company, you should also do some research on the interviewer if you know who you’ll be talking to. Look them up on LinkedIn and get the big picture. How long have they been working at the company? What positions or industries have they previously worked in? What school did they go to? What did they study? 

Obviously, don’t tell them right away at the beginning of the interview that you looked them up on LinkedIn. Use the information subtly. For example, if you’re a Disney fan and you found out they did the Disney College Program Internship when they were in college, when you introduce yourself, after you tell them the professional information, such as your school, major and career aspirations, tell them you are a Disney fan as a fun fact. Having these subtle information drops during the interview can spark a connection between you and the interviewer. This will promote a possible impression and make you more memorable in the interview’s mind.

Collegiettes, I hope that you consider using these tips when applying for your next dream job or internship. Who knows? You just might land your dream job! I wish you all the best!

Marina Li

George Mason University '21

Marina is a junior at George Mason University studying Communication with a concentration in Public Relations with a minor in Marketing and Tourism & Events Management. She is a social media coordinator, content creator and event planner. She is the kind of person who would burst out singing Disney, musicals, and Christmas songs out of nowhere. In her free time, she likes to watch corgi compilations, read, watch Netflix, think about life and experience repeated existential and identity crisis. Her dream job is to work with Pixar or Disney Studios.
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