Shai Aharony, the CEO of Reboot Online Marketing ltd, offers first hand advice and tips for getting an interview with a busy employer.
I’m going to try to make this post as short and to the point as possible. To be honest, and without trying to sound like my dad, it seems that a short attention span is a growing issue in today’s applicants. I’m going to explain how to use this fact and turn it into an advantage to make your application for a job really stand out from the crowd.
As a growing company, we have found out the hard way that a business is made of people while a good business is made of good people. Reboot Online grew from a 1-person company in 2015 to a total of 16 in less than 2 years and continues to expand to this day. In my honest opinion, the greatest challenge our company has faced in that period of time is finding good staff. And you guys don’t make it easy on us!
You would tend to assume that most people fail during the interview stage, when they are nervous and feel under pressure. You would be wrong. In fact, 99.9% of failed applications happen in the first few seconds when I receive the email containing your CV. It’s really that quick. I look at the email and in the vast majority of cases, I close the email after 5 or 6 seconds.
It’s in your interest, if you are serious about finding a career inducing job, to read this and take note. In my honest opinion, if you do what I suggest below, you will increase your chances of reaching an interview stage one hundred fold.
Some of the things I’m going to say you no doubt have heard already. What I’m hoping to achieve here is for you to actually understand why they're important. So here we go.
1. Read the job spec
I always ask in my job listing to include a cover letter (more on that later). How many people do you think bother? Around 2-3%. Yes, that’s right, if you apply for a job with Reboot Online and include a well written cover letter, you would improve your chances by 98% of actually being read. Why would I bother reading your CV if you could not be bothered to read my job advert? This is true with every other company out there. Guaranteed.
2. Write a good cover letter
Yes, even if not requested. Again, trust me when I say this, the vast majority of your competitors for the job, will not bother. By just following this simple step, you will ensure a head start. Additionally, put some effort into it. As the MD (or HR) of the company, I want to see that you are applying to MY job. Throw away your mass produced “I have good communication skills and am motivated…” cover letter and write directly to me. If it looks like a mass produced cover letter that you send to every single application, even with a slight change, I will pick up on that. Why do you think you are good fit for this particular job? Demonstrate that you have actually spent time looking at the job spec. Mention a requirement on there and explain how that fits you perfectly in relation to this job. What is it that you liked about the company? Did you think the people whose picture you saw on the company website looked like a friendly close knit bunch? If so, say so. Make me believe that you actually want to work for us and you have won half the battle. I reiterate, sending out a generic cover letter, even if you make slight alterations, is just as bad as not sending one at all. Don’t do it. We are not stupid. We will spot one a mile off and it always leaves a bad taste. It’s exactly why a freshly written, specific cover letter is such a breath of fresh air. Use this fact and you have again improved your chances immeasurably.
3. Trim your CV
This is my personal opinion. If I’m looking for a web developer, I don’t really care about your shelf stacking or paper round experience from 10 years ago. I know the common wisdom of it showing that you are hardworking etc. but to me it does the opposite. I would edit your CV and make it as suitable and pointed to the job you are applying for. If you don’t have much work experience in web development then explain your abilities better in the cover letter. As a rule, the first thing I do when I open a CV is to scan it for keywords or mentions of the skills I am looking for in that person. If I’m looking for a HTML web developer, I will be looking for HTML and other related keywords in there like CSS and PHP etc. You can use that fact to make those items pop out more on your CV before sending it out to me. Highlight the skills that make you perfect for the job and make it easy on my to spot them in the 10 seconds I take to skim over your CV. Once I spot these, I start reading the CV in more detail.
4. Expect a call
I am very impatient. If you include a phone number in your CV and I see something that may interest me but I'm not sure about calling you in for an interview, I may just pick the phone up and call you directly on the number provided. Make sure that you keep track of who you applied for and what they do. Maybe keep a sheet with some details of each company. Last thing I want to hear is “what job is this for?” when I call. As soon as I say I’m calling from Reboot Online, I’m intuitively looking for recognition in your voice. If I sense an awkward silence of someone trying to remember who Reboot Online is, then that’s not a good vibe to give out. It’s another great chance to give a good impression and all it takes is some organisation on your part.
5. Follow up with a call
This is another great tip which I have experienced working first hand. I will be at my desk and I receive a call from someone saying they sent a CV over last week and just wanted to see if we received it. I will then search through my emails and locate the CV and reassure the person it’s been received. What I will also do is have a quick look at the CV while you are on the line to see if I have any questions to ask right there and then. Regardless, I can tell you that it does and will always increase the chances of you receiving an interview. It is not unheard of that I even invited people for interviews during the same conversation. Not only does it show initiative, it also shows you really want the job. It will also most definitely make me look harder at your CV.
I also think you should remember that when you deal with many growing companies, it’s personal. I built this business with my wife and it was a very difficult journey and still is. We put our heart and soul into this business so consider that when you write to us. It goes without saying that I’m very protective of it and you need to consider this when dealing with any business owner. Showing confidence is great, even a little cheekiness in the right circumstances, but no one likes cockiness. Remaining respectful at all times does not exclude you from being confident. Pointing out grammatical errors on our website for instance could be construed as rude and snobbery if done in the wrong tone. If however it is done so with a cheeky yet friendly comment it could go a long way to showing you really did have a close look at the company.
I can guarantee that if you really follow the above, you will dramatically improve your chances of being called for an interview. Good luck!