Dear prospective job hunters.
Thank you for taking the time to look at our site, and thank you for being interested in working with us.
Most applications I receive go straight to the deleted-items folder because of a few simple mistakes. I’m beginning to feel bad, so if you are going to make the effort to apply for a job here, or anywhere else, I’d like to offer you some advice.
To successfully interest me in hiring you, you need understand what we as business owners face on the other side of the fence. Hiring is the most important task I face, but it is also 76th on my list of a hundred other things to do today. When we put a posting on Craigslist, we usually get around 100 responses within 48 hours. They flood into my inbox, and I have to push them aside until I have time to give them the attention they deserve. In the meantime, I have phones ringing, deadlines to meet, problems with our systems, employees with questions, and much more to compete for the limited capacity of my brain.
But, don’t let this put you off. It doesn’t take much to distinguish yourself. Here’s how :
1. Your Cover Letter Must Answer Our Needs.
When I do get round to your email, I do not have time to look at every detail. I make quick and rapid decisions about whether I will call you or not. I don’t even get to most resumes because the cover letter is so drab. If you want to stand a chance at getting a response, you ABSOLUTLY MUST spend some time on this.
So, how should you write a cover letter? – Simple, read our post, and tell me quickly how you can meet the needs we have listed. Use examples wherever possible. Take a look at these two letters I received….
An excellent cover letter (5% are like this)
The run of the mill cover letter (95% of applicants must be copying from the same book!)
Which one would you call back? – The second doesn’t even come close to responding to what we’re looking for. If you just regurgitate a form cover letter from some book you read, or the email you sent to the last company, I’m going to yawn and hit the delete key before I ever get to your resume. I feel bad doing it, but I just don’t have time for blah blah blah.
2. Don’t Blah Blah Blah.
Be super clear and concise. Use the same language to describe your your achievements to me, as you would to your grandmother.
“My work history coupled with my education in business administration has provided me with an invaluable sense of communication and negotiation, as well as quantitative analytical skills”
*yawn* – This means nothing to me. Compare it to this…
“I have only really had one job. It was at Larry’s Video Store near my college. We were losing customers to Netflix so I helped convince my boss to offer a subscription service to our customers. I made up a business model of our projected sales, and showed how this would improve our bottom line. My boss agreed, and tasked me with spreading the word. I designed flyers and put up posters around campus to promote our new service. Our subscription model was a success, and I’m sure my boss Larry would sing my praises for my business and marketing initiative.
Be clear, concise, and factual. Don’t use fluffy words. Describe yourself, who you are, and how exactly you can help. – If you can’t make a selling proposition for yourself, how on earth will you do it for me?
3. Don’t make the mistake of attaching your cover letter as a word document.
You’re writing me an email…. imagine me sitting at my desk with my inbox dinging every minute. Do you think I really want to fire up Word to see a formatted cover letter. No… just write your cover letter as you would any other email. That’s what email is for.
4. Respond with the title of the job advertisement in the subject heading.
Yes, it’s good to use some initiative in the subject line to grab my attention, but I sort my email based on subject, and if you’re not in the right subject, you’re going to get lost.
- Bad : I love skydiving and work really hard
- Good : Product Manager job
- Best : Product Manager job (I love skydiving and work really hard)
5. Win me over by being open and honest.
I respect failure, and I look for potential. Yet, it seems to be common practice to BS on resumes nowadays. It’s ok to be proud of your accomplishments, but a little modesty makes you look human. I’d much rather meet with someone who admits they’ve failed, than someone who pretends they’ve always been successful.
“I successfully led a ten person team to generate sales of $200,000″
Yeah, ok… but I’d respect that person even more if they had the balls to write this :
In my last job, I had ten people working for me. It was stressful, and I didn’t have a clue about how to manage at the time. Two of my team resigned in the first month, and I found it difficult to motivate the other eight who were all older than me. We still met our quota, but I was let go. To be fair, I was in over my head at the time. I have since been to two leadership training seminars, and I can see now where I went wrong.
Which one would you rather talk to?
Must get back to work now, but I hope this has helped you out.