Tracey Travis: 4 Ways to Make Your Job Application Stand Out

May 7 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Man, This Sucks

Are you on the hunt for a new job? It seems a lot easier to apply for positions now, but really, it’s harder in plenty of ways, too. Sure, you could show up with a resume and a tie for an office job back in the 50s. In the 80s, you could fax over your work history, and in the early 21st century, you could post your info on an online job board. Now, it’s virtually all, well, virtual. Because it’s often easy to apply, recruiters and employers get approximately a bazillion applications.

How do you stand out? Get active on public social media accounts. Start a career-focused blog or create a YouTube resume instead. Highlight your past projects and think about ways in which you can demonstrate continued education.


Since so many employers rely on applicants to have an online presence, it can be super easy to figure out what an applicant looks like. The problem with that is the B word: bias. Effective heuristic is a bias that describes making judgments and decisions based on how the person appears versus who they are. It means that surface-level features trump actual qualifications, a perfect process for racism and sexism to manifest. It doesn’t always happen during hiring, either. One study found that for every 100 men who are promoted to manager, a mere 60 black women are promoted to manager.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Tracey Travis, Chief Financial Officer at Estée Lauder

Tracey Travis started her professional life as an engineer at General Motors, and now, she’s the chief financial officer at Estée Lauder. How’d she make the transition from one industry to another, from one role to another?

There are some personal characteristics that are universal and can span a variety of industries and positions. Tracey has a few of them, particularly when it comes to observing and acting on the fine details of a company. She’s formally educated in both business finance and operations management, as well as industrial engineering. From GM, Tracey leapt at the chance to join Ralph Lauren’s finance team, and then L Brands.

Estée Lauder has been a go-to part of women’s days over the last several decades. But, what does lipstick and oil control for my T-zone have to do with technology? While we think it costs zero bucks to make one’s claim to fame online, for companies, it takes a lot of cash to create an online retail destination. If my promo code isn’t working, I’m leaving my virtual shopping cart and scooting to someone else’s site.

It can be very challenging to be a job seeker or, heck, even in a position, as employees are often expected to serve a variety of roles and have a diverse set of skills: Are you good with money? Great, now can you also set up our Shopify? As someone who’s responsible for hiring finance employees in an uber-competitive job market, Tracey shares some advice on how to be the perfect candidate, particularly as a woman of color.

First, seek out career development opportunities. These are the things that don’t look shiny at first but help bulk up your skillset for much shinier opportunities. For instance, Tracey enrolled in courses given by the National Association of Corporate Directors to develop expertise in a few key niches as a way to join the Jo-Ann Stores Board. Now, she’s been a board member for plenty of companies. Second, take some time to look at your professional life and connect the dots, building on your skills to add to your next experience.

When you do assume a position of power, Tracey reminds you to look for ways you can pass the torch and diversify the hiring practices. You have more influence than you think.


The wealthiest black businesswoman in the early 20th century, Madame C. J. Walker, said:

"There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it, for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard."

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