Resumes and Cover Letters

A Non-Traditional Job Application Could Be What Lands You The Job — Here’s Why

Young black, well-dressed man working on job application on his laptop in a trendy cafe

When applying for a new job, it can be easy to take comfort in submitting your long-perfected resume and cover letter. You submitted exactly what the posting asked for and that should be enough, right?

Maybe not.

Non-traditional job applications are becoming increasingly popular amongst employers and job applicants. Even if you’re the perfect fit for the job, it can be difficult to make your application stand out from the pack. As a result, many job seekers have started to submit additional materials to make sure that their application makes it to the top of the pile.

When Rebecca Haxton submitted an application for an open Digital Marketing Associate role, she saw the post as an opportunity to branch out from what she would typically send to an employer.

“I was honestly getting bored with the normal application process,” Haxton said. “I thought this could be the first time that I could get hired and do something extra at the same time. I tried submitting a video and a cover letter that expressed my most detailed interest in the position. To my surprise, it was not only appreciated, but Jason found it impressive.”


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“She basically turned [the application] into a creative story,” Jason Perkins, founder and CEO of San Diego SEO Firm, said. Perkins said that his attention was immediately grabbed by the video and business plan that Haxton submitted. Though the materials she submitted were not formal, the creativity behind them showed Perkins why Haxton would be an asset to his team.

“It was very entertaining,” Perkins said. “I was impressed by her delivery… how she displayed her years of experience, etc.”

Haxton’s application materials were inspired by scrolling through social media. “It was a video about travel and making money on the go,” Haxton said. “It wasn’t anything fancy, but I tried not to make it boring. Since the company is a digital marketing firm, the whole point of the video was to get noticed —which was something that I thought the company would need.”

Haxton said that she used her application to explain how video could supplement Perkins’ current digital marketing initiatives. She drew a clear connection between what she submitted for the job she applied for to what she wanted to do if given the position.

“These were very simple ideas, but I think Jason was more impressed by the details,” Haxton said. “At some point, I thought it might be a complete waste to put in that much effort into an application. But my reason for sending was to see if I would get noticed and it worked.”

If you’re looking to get noticed like Haxton, here are her three biggest job application tips that can help your application stand out in the same way.

Also read: 3 Powerful Ways to be Memorable to Employers

1. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes.

Imagine that you’re the human resources representative, scouring resumes to find the perfect fit. What would you want to see in your own application? What qualities would you want to stand out? How do your materials tell the employer that you can help their business?  Looking at your application from another perspective can provide new insight. You may find a way to improve your application that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

2. Never be generic.

Haxton specifically recommends this when writing your cover letter, but doing your research (and showcasing that in your application) is always a great idea. “The more detailed you are, the better your chances of getting hired,” Haxton said. In Haxton’s case, not being generic included making a video. What does it mean to you?

3. Always think about ways to stand out.

Putting extra effort into your application shows your potential employer the kind of employee you’re going to be. Your application is the perfect time to show off your qualities, so get creative! Figure out ways to showcase your best self in your resume, cover letter and any other materials you choose to submit.

“Employers, in my opinion, are looking for someone who can stand out,” Haxton said. “I think everyone should be as creative as they can be with their applications.”

 

-by Alex Wilson for Fairygodboss

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Fairygodboss is obsessed with improving the workplace for women with crowdsourced reviews, career advice, interview tips and job search strategies.