I (Andrea) deal with a lot of job applications, both with my own business as well as for clients. Over the decades of my work life, I have been through every step of the hiring process, from posting a job, reviewing resumes, phone interviews, group interviews, face to face interviews - everything. And each time I have to go through the process I become more amazed at how many simple mistakes are made that dump people immediately from the candidate pool.
I want to offer up some tips - some reminders - for you when you’re applying for a job, a project - whatever it might be. These aren’t industry secrets. These are basics things that everyone should be doing, but few people actually do. Those few people move on in the interview process. I want to make sure you’re one of those people.
Understand the Job Posting
Read the job post. And then read it again. And then walk away, come back in 30 minutes, and read it again. Employers want to know that you’ve read their post, and didn’t just see the header and click the “send resume” button. Let me tell you, we know when you haven’t read something. As an example, I recently posted a job opening on Craiglist. The post is short - no complicated reading! It contains a link that says, if you’re interested, apply “here.” It’s pretty basic.
Two people ignored that totally and replied to the Craigslist post. Now, at this point you may think that it doesn’t matter much. They’ve sent their resumes. I should look them over. I did, knowing full well that I wasn’t going to move them on in the interview process. Why? They didn’t follow directions. It doesn’t matter how great your resume is. You’ve just shown an employer that you can’t follow basic directions. That’s not good, and your application goes into the digital circular folder.
Read and understand the job posting. If it’s in a Facebook group and someone says “I need 2 dozen cupcakes baked. Message me if this is something you do,” and you reply to the post - wrong. The client wants a private message. Not a reply. Read and understand the job posting.
Meet the Requirements
Read the job post. Do you fit the minimum requirements? Now, maybe they’re asking for someone with three years experience and you only have two. That’s okay. What I’m talking about is basic details that the poster has informed you about. In my example job posting, I said LOCAL Candidates only. One of the applicants is several states away. That’s going to make it pretty hard to get to the weekly, in-person meeting.
Don’t apply to jobs that aren’t for you. It wastes the time of the employer having to review your application, but quite frankly, it wastes your time. Why are you putting energy into applying for something that is not for you? If you’re interested in working for a company or client but they don’t have something that fits your background, it’s okay to send them a letter, your resume, and just say hey, I’m really interested in working with you. Please contact me if something becomes available.
Write a Cover Letter
Back in the old days, you’d send a cover letter and a resume. Now that everything is electronic, we just click buttons and get resumes in our email. That still doesn’t excuse you from sending a short note along. If you’re replying to a Craigslist post, don’t just attach a resume and click send. Say hello. Tell me why the job posting caught your eye. You don’t have to have multiple paragraphs. Just something that’s more welcoming than a blank email with a resume attached. Make a human connection here.
Proof Read, Proof Read, Proof Read
Proof EVERYTHING you write before you send it off. And have someone else proof it, too. I cannot tell you how many resumes I’ve seen that have terrible, glaring spelling errors. One person had a strong skillet. (Not skill set.) The formatting is skewed. Names are spelled incorrectly.
What does this say to the person doing the hiring? You don’t care. You don’t pay attention to details. It’s good enough. It’s good enough for them to toss it into the trash.
Answer all Questions
If someone says, please answer all questions, you answer all the questions. Again, it’s paying attention. The job poster wants to know the answers. That’s why he asked them. Every question is important. Even the ones you think are silly. There is a reason they are asking. Provide an answer. A good, honest answer.
I said in the beginning, these aren't secrets. I'm sure as you read through this you thought how obvious thus all was. Of course it's obvious. But so many of you aren't doing it yet. Go out there and apply properly to get yourself moved to the next phase of the interview process.
Frankie and Andrea take turns sharing stories. Just good talk over a cup of coffee.