More than just words

Our hiring process at Collegewise is a good reminder of what it must be like for admissions officers at many colleges to read applications.

We receive hundreds of applications for open positions at Collegewise. And every one of them is read by a human. But for an applicant to progress to the next round of evaluation, they have to give that human a reason to turn around and make that recommendation. One of the least effective offerings is banal language that reads like that of every other applicant.

Here’s an example, a version of which arrives several times a day in our Talent Team’s inboxes.

“I’m a hard-working, results-driven, team-oriented person with a drive to get things done.”

There is nothing inherently wrong with that. But what does it tell us, really?  That they are not a lazy, directionless, cantankerous person lacking the gumption to succeed? That’s not a powerful argument for a reader to make on an applicant’s behalf.

What if those job-seekers moved to more descriptive, specific examples to show us how they embody those traits?

I make at least 50 cold calls a day, but I don’t feel like I’ve done my job until at least a few of them transform into happy customers. I’ve been asked to join almost every team at work, including our party planning committee, our website overhaul team, and our group assigned to revamp our employee training. I’m willing to swear off the occasional weekend to work on a project that I really care about (my last involved researching accounting software for our company). For me to reflect on any day as a “good day,” I need to have something productive to show for it. I’ve learned to channel these instincts well, and I’m excited about the opportunity to get things done in this role for you.

See the difference? Now, my curiosity is piqued. I want to hear more about the calls, the teams, and the projects. I’m not necessarily ready to say “yes” yet, but I’ve got a lot more reasons to do so than I did in the example that preceded this.

Not everything a student has done will be an experience unique to them. But the details behind your experiences are what change you from a same-as-so-many-others applicant on paper to a real person a reader can better understand. So use your application, essay, and interview as an opportunity to show (with details) why you’re more than just words.