- Jessica Alexander

Despite the news stories about how desperate companies are to hire new employees, the job hunt can still be tough.

Maybe you find yourself applying for job after job, without getting any interviews or hearing back from anyone. Or maybe you know you need to set yourself apart from other job seekers to catch the attention of a hiring manager, but you’re not sure where to start.

If any of this rings true, read on. In this blog post, I’ll share five opportunities to stand out that (in my experience as a Director of Talent Acquisition) are commonly overlooked.


Do Your Homework

Want the job? Do your homework and build a basic knowledge of the company with the job opening.

The job description is important, but it describes one role in a larger organization. If you understand what the company does and how the specific job you’re applying for fits into the big picture, you will be way ahead of most other applicants.

This is also your opportunity to make sure you are comfortable with the company’s culture and how they treat employees. Take a look at the company’s pages on social media and Glassdoor. What are current employees saying about the organization? How do you see yourself fitting in? 

You might find after a little research that the industry or the company isn’t right for you. On the other hand, you might find that it’s a great fit for various reasons—if so, consider sharing that in your cover letter (and interview)! 


Make Connecting a Priority

Once you’ve done your research and decided you really want the job, don’t be afraid to reach out and make connections. It’s relatively easy to find a company’s recruiter(s) on sites like LinkedIn. Find that person, and send a connection request along with a note saying you’re applying for the job, and hope you’ll have a chance to work with the recruiter soon.

A short message usually does the trick:

“I recently applied for your Field Technician vacancy at XYZ Corp and would love the opportunity to connect with you here and learn more.”

Recruiters get a lot of connection requests on LinkedIn, but rarely does anyone send a personal note—this is guaranteed to make you stand out as an applicant.

Keep in mind that connections can occur in a variety of ways. You might even consider calling the company’s HR department and asking to talk to the person in charge of recruiting. Leave a voicemail expressing your interest. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. Sometimes it takes a couple of phone calls and online messages to get a response.


Network with Existing Employees

If you’re applying to a local company, you may have friends who work there or have in the past. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network for referrals and contact information. Many job seekers set themselves apart not just with their skills and knowledge, but also with who they know and their ability to lean on their network to get a foot in the door.

You won’t always have a connection at the company you want to work for, and that’s okay, too. During your research phase, you’ll likely find several current employees you can reach out to and connect with. Let them know that you’d like to learn more about the organization and the opportunity to work there. You might even ask if they’d be willing to mentor you or provide advice about getting into the industry.


Customize Your Cover Letter and Objective Statement

Many managers and recruitment specialists see hundreds of resumes every day, but not many job seekers take the time to craft a tailored cover letter. While this does take a little bit of time investment up front, you should always make that effort for a job that you’re really interested in.

Part of that is developing an eye-catching objective statement that tells the hiring manager what you can do and the value you could bring to the company. What can you do to have an impact? Why is your background aligned to this role in particular? The more specific you are in your objective statement, the clearer it will be to the hiring manager that you’ve taken the time to research the company and are serious about the opportunity. The objective statement typically appears on your resume, but you can work the same message into your cover letter, too.

(You can learn more about tailoring your cover letter and resume in a previous blog post I wrote.)


Demonstrate That You’re Serious

If you’re serious about the role you’re applying for, make sure the company knows that. When you connect with the recruiter by phone or email, have thoughtful questions prepared. Consider asking powerful questions that show you’re focused on immediate achievement:

“What are the top three goals and priorities for this role in the first three months?”

“How will filling this role with the right candidate have an immediate benefit for the company?”

“What traits or characteristics will the ideal candidate need to be successful in this role?”

 You can also stand out in the interview and hiring process by offering references. Most job seekers don’t do this up front, but references (or even recommendation letters) are a great way to demonstrate you have a track record of success.


Standing out as a jobseeker requires time and energy, but it can be done. These five practices will help you get noticed and set you apart as a serious job candidate.

Want to learn more about joining the environmental services industry? Check out our Careers hub to learn about the kinds of roles we offer and our current job openings.

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Jessica Alexander, Director of Talent Acquisition

Jessica Alexander, SHRM-SCP

[email protected]

Jessica Alexander is the Director of Talent Acquisition for Cascade Environmental. She holds a B.S. in Human Resource Management, B.S. in Business Administration, MBA, and Doctorate of Philosophy (ABD) in Human Resource Management. After completing ten years of military service in the United States Air Force in the Logistics and Transportation Management field, Jessica launched a distinguished career specializing in recruiting and talent development. She is passionate about the development of people and their ability to drive companies forward.

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