Tips for small business: Dear applicant, please show me what I need to see

Last week I wrote about the pain many small businesses experience when hiring new employees: the effort involved, the cost, the time and the risk. I suggested 10 things employers can do to ease the load and make the process smoother, less risky, and (hopefully) more successful.

Today I want to speak to the job applicants out there. There are many things that you, too, can do to ease the process for the employer, and at the same time increase your own odds for getting the job and make yourself more valuable as a potential employee. Here is my letter to you:

Dear Job Applicant,

First off, thanks so much for applying – we really do appreciate your interest in our company and in the position we are trying to fill. We hope that you are the right person for the job, and are looking forward to learning more about you and why you are a great fit for us. Apologies in advance for not getting back to you sooner, but please understand that we have been swamped with applications and it does take time to slog through all of them.

We are looking for certain specific experience in the person who gets this job and you may well have that experience. But a big part of helping us to understand that you are qualified comes in how you present those qualifications to us. Sure, the resume you attached to your application is helpful, but if you’re smart, you will find a better way to show us what you got. Here’s a few ideas that will help:

1.Do your homework.
Did you take the time to do some basic research about the job and our company? No? Well LMGTFY. “What?” you ask? Let Me Google That For You. It’s easy – just take 10 minutes and have a look around the old internets about the company you’re applying to, the market they compete in, and the team you want to join. Really, we can tell if someone has done a bit of homework or not and, all else being equal, we will always err towards the one that has.

2. Don’t send us that stupid boilerplate cover letter.
If there’s anything that shows less about an applicant, it is a cover letter that starts off with “Dear Hiring Manager” and contains some generic content about how you really want this particular job. Major turnoff. What we want is a cover letter that was written just for us; we want to know that you get what we are as a company, what we are looking for in this job, and, most of all, we want a sense of who you are and what you’re about. Be sure to include some info about your experience and qualifications in there and show us that you know how to handle written language. Please?

3. Do NOT send us your resume in a bulk email.
If there is anything that tells us an applicant doesn’t really care about this specific job it is when they send us their resume and we see that we were CC’d along with 10 other companies. Seriously? WTF?

4. Be original, be entertaining.
Remember we have received 22,347 resumes so far and this is an incredibly time-consuming, mind-numbing, imagination-killing process so we would appreciate you providing a bit of relief when you apply. Be original, be funny, be clever, be something other than generic in your approach and you will have a better chance of making it past the first-round cuts. Over here at crowdSPRING we’ve been pretty fortunate in attracting some great applicants for jobs and they have found really cool ways to stand out. Have a look here to see what I mean.

5. Be patient.
Did I mention that we have received 22,347 resumes so far? Please don’t bug us if you don’t hear back right away. We do try to respond to every single application we receive (even the really lame ones) but we might not get around to it for a few days. So hang in there, don’t watch the pot while you wait for it to boil, and please don’t keep sending follow-ups asking if we’re gonna call. OK?

So, dear applicant, I hope this letter will help you to do a great job applying for your next job. I do know how difficult it is; how few great jobs are out there, how serious the competition, and how frustrating the entire process. So hang in there, keep up the great search, and please use these tips to help yourself and to help us!

Photo: bindermichi