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How ArcGIS StoryMaps can help you hire—or get hired

My job allows me the privilege to hire talented GIS professionals to join what I consider to be the best GIS team in the country. Finding the right candidate to join our team is often time-consuming and always begins with reading traditional cover letters and résumés. Find out how we’ve been using ArcGIS StoryMaps to help us find the perfect candidates to join our team or, if you’re a job seeker yourself, how to use ArcGIS StoryMaps stories to make your application stand out.

ArcGIS StoryMaps is Esri’s digital storytelling platform. It allows users at all skill levels to create engaging multimedia stories that inform and inspire. Stories made with StoryMaps combine maps, videos, text and photos, allowing GIS professionals and non-specialists alike to connect to new audiences through interactivity.

Here’s an example of a story that I love:


For hiring managers: One simple way to differentiate job applicants

Hiring managers face two main challenges with traditional job application systems:

1. Time-consuming processes: Finding the right candidates to interview is an important part of the recruiting process. Interviews are time consuming for both the hiring manager and the applicant. While résumés and cover letters do an adequate job at communicating a candidate’s skills and experience, they often don’t give hiring managers any meaningful insight about the person who wrote them.

2. Differentiation of candidates: Job postings often receive several applications from candidates with similar educational backgrounds and experience. Traditional résumés and cover letters make it challenging to differentiate these candidates.

To address these challenges, I started encouraging applicants to supplement their resumés and cover letters with personalized StoryMaps stories. The result has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s provided us with an engaging tool to get to know some of our candidates beyond traditional methods. It’s also given us an insightful glimpse into each candidate as a person.


For job seekers: Four benefits of using ArcGIS StoryMaps stories to supplement your job application

1. They communicate that you fit with the company culture

Often, skills and experience are not enough to convince someone that you’re the right person for the job. If you’ve done research on your prospective employer and have a reasonable understanding of the company culture and its core values, stories can be an excellent tool to communicate that you share those same characteristics.

2. Using GIS to apply for a GIS role is a boss move

StoryMaps may not be the most complicated product in the Esri suite, but pairing a story with your job application can help convey that you are passionate about GIS, that you can use it in creative ways and that you have a basic level of proficiency with ArcGIS Online.

3. They grab hiring managers’ attention, helping you to outshine other candidates

Today’s job market is often competitive. Hiring managers spend an average of seven seconds reviewing your résumé and you may be competing against dozens or hundreds of other applicants for that dream job. A story can help you stand out compared to other candidates. At a minimum, it will encourage your prospective employer to spend more time getting to know you.

4. You can use them to highlight your personal brand

StoryMaps stories are also an opportunity to highlight your personal brand by sharing about your background, your values, your ethics and your passions.


What can you include in your story?

A screenshot from an ArcGIS StoryMaps Express story. The image shows a map of Seychelles overlaid with a personal anecdote from an applicant to Esri Canada. The anecdote reads: “In 2017, Véro moved to Praslin, Seychelles, working with the Seychelles Island Foundation. Her work was within the luscious forest of Vallee de Mai, where she was assisting as a Project Officer on the black parrot project and invasive species management.”

The beauty of StoryMaps is that you can use your creativity and include anything you think will give you a competitive edge. Below are seven examples of things I have seen included in our applicants’ stories:

  • Brief personal anecdotes
  • Maps stepping through their educational and professional experiences
  • Examples of previous GIS work
  • Testimonials / references
  • Video greetings
  • Links to résumés, LinkedIn, other personal sites
  • Hobbies and interests

A screenshot of part of an ArcGIS StoryMaps story. The section title is “Passionate GIS Professional with expertise with all aspects of ArcGIS Online”. The screenshot shows a map of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, along with biographical details about a job candidate.


For hiring managers and job seekers alike: How to get started with ArcGIS StoryMaps

The beauty of StoryMaps is that it’s designed to be easy to use. Below are two free resources to help you get started:

If you don’t have access to an ArcGIS Online account, visit StoryMaps Express and join the beta before April 5, 2022 to secure a free one-year subscription to StoryMaps.

Whether you’re hiring for a new position or looking for your next job in GIS, I encourage you to use StoryMaps to help you find that perfect candidate or stand out from the crowd.

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.

About the Author

Jonathan Nowlan is manager of Support Enablement at Esri Canada. His team provides proactive support content to customers and helps Esri Canada’s Support Services team keep up with Esri’s evolving technology. Jonathan also manages the Associate GIS Professional Program, which provides opportunities for recent GIS graduates in Canada to jumpstart their careers with Esri Canada.

Profile Photo of Jonathan Nowlan