Editor's note: This story is part of a new community-oriented, weekly article series in which Community Manager Caira Conner discusses how to get the most out of PolicyMic.
Of the questions I receive on a regular basis as PolicyMic's community manager — Who are you guys? What's a mic? How did I get here? — I think this is one of the most important: How can I use PolicyMic to get ahead?
PolicyMic prides itself on being the most accessible digital news platform created by millennials, for millennials. Because of this, our community will never stop being our top priority in our mission to engage passionate, smart users in discussion about news and current events — if we didn't have you, we wouldn't be here.
We encourage millennials to use our platform in addition to all the work, school, and life commitments they have going on. Your time is important, and to help make the most of it, we're launching a weekly interactive column that explores different ideas + perspectives on the ways PolicyMic can be your professional springboard. You want to know how to use PolicyMic to get ahead, and we want to support you.
Each Wednesday, I'll host a Twitter chat to answer questions and offer input on how to make the most out of your PolicyMic experience. I'll publish an article in advance of each week's discussion to guide the chat's theme, but am open to topic input.
Without further adieu, here are five thoughts to prompt Wednesday's chat on the things millennials can do to increase their chances of getting an interview during their job hunt.
Show your future employer you know who they are and what they're about before making your case as to why you're the best candidate for an open role. I'm not talking about memorizing the "About Us" section for each place you apply to — I'm talking about having a general understanding of the ins and outs of what the organization actually is up to on a regular basis.
When possible, create an account with your targeted organization, engage with their social media platforms and subscribe to their updates before (again — always before) putting together a cover letter that details why you're the best candidate for the job. Many employers ask for feedback on the company website during the first round of interviews, and having a thoughtful answer lined up (beyond "It's great!") will show off your preparedness.
You really want to work at a particular organization. You really, really do. You figure the best way to increase your chances of this happening is to apply to a couple of the job opportunities at once. To save yourself time, you submit the same materials to each of the roles. Unfortunately for you, those twin (or triplet!) applications may all end up in one hiring manager's inbox.
If you are the perfect candidate for one specific role at the company of your dreams, then you are likely not the perfect person for a different role at that very same place. There's a reason those jobs are separate. Any organization would be lucky to hear from enthusiastic millennials who want to be involved with them in any way possible, but be selective when it comes to actually applying. Read the job descriptions and show you're self-aware by picking the role suited to your strengths and interests.
Being polite is one thing. Being sorry is another. When you apply to a job, don't use an apology as a substitute for clarification.
What do I mean by this?
For example, if the job application instructions ask you to submit a writing sample that's between 400-600 words, and you send in a piece that's 752 words, do not launch into an explanation of how you know it's not what was asked for, and how sorry you are that you don't have anything else, but how you may have something else if it's not good enough.
Let whoever's reading your application be in charge of deciding what to do with it. That's their job. If you're honestly unsure whether part of your application isn't quite right, spend some extra time deciding whether that place would be a good fit for you as an employer.
No one is going to discredit a stellar applicant because a writing sample was a few words over the suggested length. Don't undermine your hard work by offering a disclaimer in your introductory email. If you need to point something out or clarify part of your application, be clear and concise, but never sorry. Apologize if you step on someone's foot.
Remember that YouTube compilation of "phrases you will often never hear"? Of course you do, it got over nine million hits. Those jokers were on to something when they suggested no one would (or should) ever use a cutesy font as their default in email. Neither should you. It looks unprofessional, and can make the email difficult to read. Keep in mind you're corresponding with someone who likely receives hundreds of messages per day. The more straightforward and easy on the eyes your message is, the higher the likelihood that someone will take the time to read it — and better yet, respond.
Job hunting is stressful. Job hunting is difficult. Sometimes job hunting can make you sound stressful and difficult.
Alright, maybe not you personally, but your schedule, your emails, your specific asks, if presented in an untimely fashion, may make you appear complicated — and not in an appealing, romantic comedy sort of way.
Think of it this way: The more you indicate how much easier someone's professional life will be by hiring you, the more they'll be inclined to think what a great idea hiring you could be. Show how uncomplicated you are by keeping musings on future vacations, final exams, and payment inquiries out of initial job correspondence. It may be important for an employer to be aware of all this at some point — say, after you've signed a contract — but not in the same email where you attach a résumé for consideration.