Whether you’re applying to a big organization with a fancy application system or if it’s a small company that does things via email, I’m going to let you in on a little known (or realized) fact: You often have the opportunity to include *extra* documents.
So what kind of extras am I talking about? Well here are my three top suggestions:
1) Reference letter
References seem to be a lot less common these days. For example, you shouldn’t write ‘references available on request’ on your resume and you’re rarely asked for references when interviewing. That said, a strong reference can go a LONG way.
If you happen to have a great relationship with a previous boss who thinks the world of you, ask if they wouldn’t mind writing a reference letter that you could use with job applications (they need to know it’s not for a specific job/application). In a competitive market, an unsolicited reference could give you that extra edge in getting an interview.
It certainly worked for Payal (check out the interview here) when she wanted to work for the Special Advisor to Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals.
2) Your ideas on the job/company/team
Instead of just telling the company how great of an addition you’d be to the team, show them.
Applying for a strategy role? Attach some a slide deck outlining how you feel the company is doing against it’s peers on some key metrics. Going for a non-profit communications job? Write up your recommendations around how they could better leverage social media to achieve their communications objectives.
Make sure you explain what you’ve done in your cover letter and in your email (if applicable). Say something like:
“I am very interested in the organization and this role specifically. I hope you don’t mind that I took the liberty of analyzing <…> and have attached some thoughts which I hope might help in assessing my application”.
3) Past work of yours
Does the job say they’re looking for a PowerPoint guru and you definitely fit the bill? Send them your best slide deck as an example. Want to prove your analytical skills or share your writing style? Send a report or paper as an example.
Just remember, never share anything that’s private/confidential.
Now I’m guessing you’re wondering how.
If you’re emailing documents through, of course it’s easy – just attach the extras and mention them in your covering note (this part’s important!).
Or if you have to apply via an online system, see if there’s a place to upload additional documents. There often is – just look closely next time and you’ll likely see what I mean. If not, try to connect with an actual human (*gasp*) at the company – a friend of a friend in the department, an HR manager via LinkedIn, whatever!
Have you ever sent something extra when applying for a job? How did it go?