Three simple things could get you to first base – if that’s really where you want to be. Sometimes, I’m not so sure.

At my company Talking Brand, we’re recruiting for a Digital Marketing Manager (so if you know of someone great, do let them know).

And, as anyone who’s done it can attest, recruiting can be a joyless, time consuming task…and it can also have you shaking your head in wonder. Before I comment on three things applicants routinely overlook, let me just say this: we’re recruiting for a marketer for goodness’ sake. A marketer involves a special set of skills.

Among other things, they need to know how to find out about a target market (research, reasoning); about how to position an offer to deliver what that target wants (deductive reasoning, communication); and use the right channels to get the offer and product to the market.

Given that it’s a digital marketing role, they also need to know a whole lot of other things as well of course, but those three marketing basics are, well, basic. Which is why I wonder of people are really serious, when they do things like this:

1.     Send a resume without a cover letter

What signals ‘I don’t care’ faster than a resume without a cover letter? In my book, nothing.

Here’s the thing: No cover letter, no reading of the resume. No cover letter, no opportunity to set yourself apart in terms of why you want the job or why you should be interviewed.

Not sending a cover letter also suggests two other things, aside from indifference. (Or stupidity.) That you think your experience is so shit-hot that it speaks ‘volumes’ and, that as a person, you’re only as much as what you’ve done. Neither of those can ever be true.

That’s because we don’t just employ people for their functional competencies; we also employ them for their motivational fit – and that’s all about who they are as people. In addition – and this is important – how can you actually even be a good marketer for me, when in a situation where you have to market yourself, you can’t even do something as basic as use the right channels to get your offer to the market?

2. Address a cover letter with a generic name

Great. You actually wrote a cover letter. You get 10 points. Oops, it says: To whom it may concern, or something else equally generic. When there’s a name on the job ad, use it. Nothing signals ‘generic’ and ‘I don’t read’ faster

than a cover letter with a generic address.

Ok, so you suckered me into reading it and giving you 10 points; but sorry, I now just took them away again because you couldn’t be arsed writing to me. Personally. No effort, no reward.

And in case you think that I think a job is something bestowed on a grateful recipient; think again. I know it’s a two-way exchange. But it must begin with some effort on both sides. As an employer I go to the effort of crafting a job that I think explains what it would be like and the kind of person we think would thrive. Your job, is to respond in kind.

3. Fron up to an interview without having been on your website

You must have done a couple of things well, because now you’re here at an interview. I did a few this week and here’s what I noticed. There were two applicants who had downloaded at least two reports each. One seemed like they’d read them. Another had downloaded something else that didn’t need an email address and with all three I could tell that they’d looked at other pages on the site.

But not for long. (I can see from our dashboard exactly what pages each of those three people went to and for how long. Not a helluva lot for people contemplating moving to a new workplace.)

As for the others interviewed – if they visited the site they certainly only did so anonymously and given that we have at least three special reports on our site, I thought it interesting that they didn’t look at one.

But here’s the other reason I know that they didn’t do that much research. They had bugger-all questions. Now I know that as a marketer, asking questions is one of the things I need to do best in life. It goes hand in hand with the marketer’s curious-gene.

In contrast, I wonder if they know how much research I do on them? If they’ve got a decent cover letter and resume, they may end up in my short pile. The recruiter will typically phone screen these and while she does that, I google all of them to see what social media/web profile they may have. I go to their LinkedIN page. I check if they’re on Twitter and if so what kind of posts they’re doing. Later, if we’re getting serious I may check up and see if I can find them on Facebook – purely to see of they sound like the kind of person we want to have around 5 days a week.

Then, for the interview, I have a list of generic questions, but I also have some that are related to their specific experience. I have a couple of members of my team take them for coffee to get a better sense of them and so the candidate can also get a feel for us. Finally, if we’re happy with them and wish to proceed, I may set them an exam. When it comes to referee checking, I make a series of other specific questions I want drilled into by the recruiter.

That’s my research as an employer. How good’s yours as a prospective employee?

By the way: this is NOT a blog post that should encourage agencies to contact me.

AuthorAmanda Falconer