September 01, 2022
How to stand out as a job applicant
Note: This is based on an excellent piece my coworker Lynie Wong wrote about an interview we did together. Check it out on Poll Everywhere’s blog.

With the explosion of software engineering jobs, it can seem impossible to stand out amongst industry professionals with years of work experience. Here are a few ways to get yours noticed.

1. Create a unique resume design

Avoid popular resume templates that follow a common format. If you decide to use one of the stock Google Docs or Microsoft Word ones, do something to make it your own. Tweak the colors, font, or imagery.

Recruiters and hiring managers often review hundreds of resumes. It is easy to be overlooked if your resume looks like all the other ones. 

2. Show your impact

Tie your past work experience to business outcomes. Share relevant data and examples that show how your project resulted in significant impact on the business such as increasing the number of sales qualified leads or improved site load time. For example, instead of 

Ruby on Rails + React feature development 

try writing something like 

Collaborated with Design to rework our pricing page, resulting in a 10% increase in click-through rate to learn about our premium plan.

3. Do your research

The best way to stand out to a company you are passionate about is to show them that you spent time understanding their business. Try out their product, learn about the problem they’re solving. Even if you don’t get this 100% right or understand the nuance of every feature, this kind of thorough research stands out.

4. Personalize your cover letter

A personalized, well-written cover letter is the most common way to get me to schedule an introduction call.

Find out who the hiring manager is for the role and the company mission or values. Reference these in your cover letter. For example, instead of a generic 

To whom it may concern

greet the specific hiring manager or recruiter and open with why you want to work for the company. Remember, a person is reading your resume, not a robot (at Google it might actually be a robot).

5. Create a quick demo on GitHub 

To really impress the hiring manager, put together a quick demo that’s public on GitHub using the technology the company uses or showcases skills from the job description. Even if it’s not a full-featured app, it’s a great way for a hiring manager to see your work for themselves. I’ll often look into the source code of these small side projects to get a sense of the person’s coding style. 

This is an especially useful way for bootcamp graduates or new engineers with less work experience to build a project portfolio. Each small demo for one application makes your future applications stronger.

Wrap up

Try a few of these things the next time you apply for a job. Compare your response rate to prior applications. Let me know how it goes. 
Matt from encoro

I’m Matt ⚡, making encoro for 360° feedback. Want to help your team hear how they’re progressing? Give it a try for free.