ESA Competitive Edge

ESA Competitive Edge

No matter what "next step" you're trying to achieve, highlight your ESA skills on your resume' and during your interviews. 
Most people vastly undervalue the marketable skills they've developed through their volunteer activities. The knowledge and experience earned through your ESA activities in college are extremely sought-after.

Cover Letters -- It's about Passion, not interest

The team that reads cover letters sent to NPR hits the 5 most common cover letter mistakes that make them dismiss a candidate before reading the resume’. Check out the full article for great specific examples about how to write a letter that gets you noticed.


  • Tell a story – Ditch the “I’m writing to apply” and lead with a personal story that speaks to your interest in the field or a special skill -- ESA EXPERIENCE MAKES FOR GREAT STORIES
  • Put the good stuff up top – Don’t waste the intro on an intro, get right to your star qualities
  • Tell what YOU can do for THEM, not what you’ll get out of the position
  • Slip in a comment or two that shows you’ve read/listened to their content or checked out their blog
  • Use actual names when you address the letter (hint: Lose “to whom it may concern” --stat). PROOF READ, don’t just spell check. Get a friend to read it or at least LISTEN to yourself read it outloud, you'll pick up awkward writing, run on sentences etc... make sure it actually makes sense from a writing standpoint.

Resume' Building --Include your ESA experience on your resumé

Employers love volunteer work, especially when it allowed you to develop proven job-relevant skills. Keep in mind that the knowledge and experience you gain through your ESA positions are extremely valuable. Check out tips from U.S. News and World Report about how to include unpaid work on your resume' and let your ESA work get you noticed in a crowded applicant pool.

Things to keep in mind:
  • Do not list “volunteer” as the position or job title. List the specific role you played such as Fundraising Chair, Digital Media Manager, Campus Events Coordinator, Treasurer. Use the word “volunteer” only under the bullet points to let potential employers know that the position was unpaid.
  • Use specific numbers and results instead of making general statements. List amount of money raised and how it was raised under your guidance. "Chaired campuswide 'Pie a Professor' event benefitting Special Olympics involving over 200 participants, faculty and staff, that raised $4500 with responsibility for publicity, facilities, participant experience."
  • List detailed descriptions of tasks as they relate to the position for which you are applying. Emphasize the similarities between your experience and the prospective position.
  • Make sure to note if the volunteer position was full time or ongoing. Many people assume that volunteer work is part time or sporadic. List how many hours you worked on a project if it is a significant number.
  • List any honors, commendations, awards or certifications you have received that are based on vounteer performance.
  • Highlight specific training or education you received from the organization or program.
  • Emphasize special skills or qualifications that relate to the job position.

Interviews -- Before, During, and After

Dress for Success:
Balance Careers shares dress code definitions ("What is 'business casual' anyway?"), suggestions for piercings/tattoos/jewelry, and clothing suggestions for men, women, gender neural, start-upculture and more

In Person Interviews:
U.S. News/Money Desk has these pointers and many others:
  • Check in 10-15 minutes early, not more, not less. 
  • Dress professionally AND to the company culture (check their website and Facebook page for hints). Remember what you wear expresses your JUDGMENT about what's appropriate in addition to your personal style.
  • Bring: notepad, pen, printed resume', references, work samples, laptop to showcase your work if appropriate.
  • Use metrics where possible to describe your skills and experience, it's hard to assess "I did that well".
  • Steer clear of TMI... if you're wondering, it is. 
Online Interviews:
Harvard Business School Online includes pointers specifically for online interviews like:
  • Test your tech
  • Set a professional "scene"
  • Practice, don't memorize, your responses
  • Body language and how to push the right vibe virtually

Quick ESA Facts for your Resume'

  • Epsilon Sigma Alpha is an international service and leadership organization founded in 1929 dedicated making the world a better place through philanthropy and service while enhancing the lives of our members through the bonds of friendship and a common pursuit of life-long learning. ESA members the U.S., Canada, and Australia donate more than 650,000 volunteer hours annually. Our international projects include Easterseals, Hope for Heroes, Literacy, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, our largest philanthropic project, having donated more than $325 million in cash and pledges to the hospital since 1972.
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