A Note to Job Applicants

This month I’ve been put in charge of hiring for a few positions at my company, and I’ve learned a lot about the hiring process in the meantime. That is, there are a lot of people who are “paper smart” that don’t know the first thing about how to apply for a job.

Firstly, when writing a cover letter, instead of listing out your accomplishments (unless they are actually applicable to the role you are applying to), explain how you can help my company. Few people even mention why they want to work for my company specifically in their cover letters — generic cover letters that discuss the industry very vaguely are not impressive, even if you have an impressive GPA from a top school.

Secondly, if you schedule an interview, do not pick up the phone informally, and sound like you are on drugs and/or half asleep. Be enthusiastic and please remember that you scheduled an interview at that time.

Finally, if you really want a job, it’s ok to follow up — these days postings on Craigslist for employees generate hundreds of applications, and most of them are garbage. It’s difficult to scan them all appropriately, and sometimes good applicants get missed. I was very impressed yesterday when I received a phone call from an applicant who I had not responded to yet, and it so happens he was one of the few applicants for the internship who had written a very good cover letter and who I had intended to reach out to — this has moved him even higher up the pile.

Not every company who is hiring will want you to do these things, but from my perspective the few people that have done all three stick out from the pack, and are much more likely to receive a job offer. It’s a little bit of education I’ll use for my own purposes next time I’m out seeking a job!

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One thought on “A Note to Job Applicants”

  1. I recently did some recruitment too. Like you, I found it really enlightening to be sitting on that side of the table. It's amazing how blissfully unaware some people are. When an employer has 20 CVs, they will ditch yours if it has the slightest mistake. This is especially true if the position requires precision and good communication. Get a few of your nerdiest friends to check over your CV and covering letters!

    It's odd how quickly you can sum up someone's character when you're forced to do so. You can tell within minutes if someone is unlikely to play well with others or lacks self-confidence, if their skills aren't strong enough or they're just not very creative.

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