You submitted your application for your dream job and now you’re wondering if there is anything else you can do to make yourself stand out among the competition. The answer is, yes! Below, you'll find three key strategies for distinguishing yourself and showing that you are passionate about the role and the organization.
Before you dive in though, two notes:
- It’s important to give a hiring manager some time after you submit your application. Chances are, if it’s your dream job, it’s a dream position for at least 100 others as well. Hiring managers have a lot on their plates and often—especially in the nonprofit sector—hiring is only a very small and temporary part of their job. In other words, don’t deploy any of the below tactics until you have waited at least two weeks after submitting your materials.
- This advice is not for postings that specify “No Calls.” When an employer specifically states that they do not want to be contacted, applicants must heed that request.
And now, on to our tips!
Email a copy of your application to the hiring manager
For most cases, electronic applications will either go through an automated screening system or get sent to a member of the HR team who will then narrow down applicants to a list of promising candidates.
If screening software is used, your application may get weeded out before anyone has a chance to review it. In the case of an HR staffer or a recruiter reviewing your application first, promising applicants may get overlooked.
Once you have submitted your materials online, try emailing a copy of your application directly to the hiring manager. If their information is not listed on the posting, call the organization's main number and ask for their name and email address. Let them know you are applying to a specific position and that you would like to send a copy of your resume directly to the hiring manager. In some cases, an employer may not be willing to share this information. Either way, remember to be gracious and thank them for considering your request.
If you are able to get the contact info, send a brief email to the hiring manager. Here is a template for the message:
I recently submitted my application for the role of [POSITION] and wanted to send you a copy of my materials directly as well. I would love the opportunity to discuss my [2-3 REQUIRED SKILLS LISTED IN THE POST] skills as they relate to the position.
I look forward to connecting soon!
Call the hiring manager
A candidate that takes the time to call has the ability to make a great impression if they go about it the right way.
I have successfully used this strategy in my own job search. Here's what happened:
After reaching out to a hiring manager to confirm that she had received my application, I asked if I could have a few moments of her time to introduce myself. I was able to speak with her directly, reiterate my enthusiasm for the position, and highlight a few of my skills that made me a fit for the role. I was then invited for an interview and later secured the job.
Give the organization a call and ask to speak with the hiring manager. Be sure to rehearse what you'd like to say on a voicemail as you may be immediately directed to leave a message. As a courtesy, whether you speak with somebody directly or have to leave a voicemail, do not call more than once.
If you are able to get somebody on the phone, be sure to be sensitive to the fact that you may be interrupting important work.
Here’s what you can say:
Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I recently submitted my application for the role of [POSITION] and I wanted to confirm that you received my materials. [PAUSE HERE FOR RESPONSE]. I’m also wondering if there was anything else that I could provide you to give you a better sense of why I’m excited about the role.
Pro-Tip: If you’re leaving a voicemail, you may want to add: “I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you further about how I can contribute. I can be reached via [CONTACT INFO].”
If you get someone on the phone, use this opportunity to ask a question that will give you better insight into what they are looking for. One of my favorite questions is, “What are the top skills and attributes that you are hoping that a candidate will bring to this role?”
Take notes and be sure to thank the hiring manager for taking time to speak with you.
Ask others to put in a good word
A final strategy to help you stand out among the competition is to ask anyone you know with a connection to the hiring organization to put in a good word on your behalf. Be sure that you’re tapping folks who know you well and think highly of you and your work. A few examples of people you may want to ask include a current or former colleague, or board member; someone who has collaborated closely with the organization on a project; or anyone else whose opinion carries weight with the organization.
This is an effective strategy to employ at any key decision point in the application process—either after applying or after interviewing.
Speaking from personal experience, this tactic works! After completing a first-round phone interview, I reached out to a former colleague on the hiring organization’s advisory board and asked him if he would be open to making a call on my behalf. He did, and in hindsight, I am certain that his call helped me stand out as a candidate. I was then invited for an in-person interview and eventually secured the job.
About the Author | Lisa Yee-Litzenberg is a certified career coach and President of Green Career Advisor, helping individuals find their career niche and secure their dream jobs in the environmental and social-impact sectors. Prior to her current role, Lisa led the environmental career services at the University of Michigan for 10 years and spent 12 years working for the National Wildlife Federation.