Quit Wasting My Time and Get a Job!
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 30.2 million small businesses in the United States. Collectively, we employ 58.9 million people, or 47.5 percent of the private workforce. So why can’t you find your dream job? The same reason we can’t find our dream employees.
Whether you’re a recent college graduate looking for your first “real” job, or have been in the workforce for years, the reason you’re not getting the job of your dreams is you’re being a nightmare to potential employers.
Algorithms and artificial intelligence help large businesses sort through the massive quantity of online applications they receive, but small business employers still screen candidates the old-fashioned way…we actually read what you submit.
You Don’t Have Much Time
Let’s make this personal. Your response to my ad is being forwarded to my email inbox. When reviewing responses to a job posting, I use the 1-5-10 rule. One second to decide if I want to open your email, five seconds to decide if I want to open your resume, and 10 seconds to decide if I want to read your resume and consider responding to you.
If you just send a blank email with a resume attached, and are not interested enough in the job to include a note or cover letter that explains why you’re interested in the position or how you will help our company, I’m not interested enough in you as a candidate to even open your email.
Your six-paragraph note explaining why you’ve always been the best at anything you’ve ever done, will never get read. A link to an online resume (think Google Docs) will never get clicked. That typo in the first sentence? Forgit about it! I recently received an email that started (this is a direct cut-and-paste quote) “Goodmorning , Im intrested in this add , I have experienc…if u have some time pls let me know if its still available” It is still available. No, I will not take the time to let you know.
Now the good news: because of the sorry state of job applicants, it is actually quite easy to standout and put yourself in the top 5% of all applicants.
What’s Your Name?
When we receive your emailed job application, the first thing we see is your name. No, not your real name, your email address or the name you use to sign the email. We see the name you assigned to your email account when you first setup your email program. “Gangsta,” “Tequila Luvr,” and “High Times” (actual examples I’ve received) may accurately describe your lifestyle, but unless you’re applying to a criminal enterprise, bar, or marijuana dispensary, it might not be the first impression you want a future employer to receive.
Presentation is Key
I know your resume looks pretty on your computer, but do you know what it will look like on my phone, tablet or laptop? You might be surprised – or horrified! Send it as a PDF so I’m seeing it the way you want me to. I might want to save your resume to my computer - do you have any idea how many files I’ve received that are named “Resume.docx”? And how am I supposed to contact you if you haven’t updated the phone number or email on your resume.
When it comes to resumes, if you think it’s trendy to emphasize life lessons and skills and not your actual experience, I’m wondering what you’re trying to hide. It doesn’t take long to update the objective, so it sounds like you’re looking for the job we have available. It might be total BS, but it’s better than showing your objective as completely irrelevant.
If we have any interest in interviewing you, we’re going to check, so clean up your act. At a minimum, you might want to mark private all those pictures of you passed out on the bar in Cabo during Spring Break. And your online work-history profile should match what you put on your resume.
What Do You Know About the Company You Claim to Want to Work For?
Sometimes ads are blind and don’t mention the company, but usually the name of the company is in the ad, and it will be listed if I contact you by email. Were you resourceful enough to visit our website, find us on social media, or conduct a basic Google search? At a minimum, you should do this before your first call or interview. If not, how do you know “you’ve always wanted to work here”? Demonstrate your interest and show some resourcefulness by letting things about our business “slip” in your cover letter or first interview.
If you make it past the 1-5-10 screen and actually get invited for a phone or in-person interview, be prepared. Show up at the appointed time and know why I’m calling when your phone rings at our scheduled time.
There are hundreds of books on how to interview, and I’m not going to begin to address the issues here but read one – or a few of them. You will be asked if you have any questions – have some. You’ll be asked about strengths and weaknesses - what are you going to say? You’ll probably be asked something quirky to see if you can think on your feet – can you?
What’s In It For Me?
In order for you to get your dream job, you have to demonstrate there’s a chance you’ll be a dream employee. In other words, how are you going to contribute to our team, add value to our company and serve our clients? You can decide if you want to accept a job offer because of what’s in it for you, but to get that offer, you must address what’s in it for the potential employer. I like to end my interviews with “why should we hire you?” I recently had somebody respond, “Because I want to work closer to home.” I’ll bet she’s still wondering why she didn’t get her dream job.
If you want to stand out from the pack and be considered for the job, let me know. Fewer than 5% of people I’ve interviewed make the minimum effort to follow up-at all. And while following up isn’t a litmus test for me, people who do so definitely get my attention. Send a short email. Write a short note.
It Really Is That Simple
You now know what it takes to stand out from the other applicants and make a good impression on your possible future boss. As our nation struggles to reform the way that government and society function, we need to add a focus on more basic skills training so people can get jobs, and employers can get the workforce they need. So quite wasting my time and get a job!