Recently, WAM created its marketing discipline and brought me on board to lead it. Marketing agrees with WAM entirely, with an almost instant positive spike in key metrics. Not 60 days into the job, I knew I needed someone to help me tell the best stories of We Are Mammoth, Kin and DoneDone.
We posted our content marketing associate position about three weeks ago and it received more than 450 job applications since. It was overwhelming to say the least, but also really refreshing to see how many people wanted to work for the companies I hold near and dear to my heart already.
Currently, we’re down to interviewing people with some of the most impressive resumes and background I’ve ever seen with the hope to make a decision by the end of this week. That being said, sifting through the initial applications led me to having to write a blog post about it from an employer perspective. Not just a generic “here’s things you shouldn’t do” post, but a post on the job application mistakes I saw over and over again that could easily be avoided.
Without further ado, let’s get right to it:
Never, ever use Dear Sir/Madam
In our job description, we made it clear the person would be reporting directly to the marketing director. Now, I understand many companies have others check out the applications prior to them hitting the hiring manager (which again, isn’t always the same person the employee will report to). However, if the person or title is referenced in the job description, Google that title plus the company and try to find a name to address your cover letter to. Any bit of personalization really stands out.
A majority of folks who used “Lisa & Team” or a variation of that as the opening line in their cover letter at least had a quick phone interview. If they didn’t get an interview, they were at least looked at a bit closer than the generic openers.
Write the cover letter
Speaking of cover letters, even if it says it’s an optional piece of the application, it’s really the only way to stand out among the hundreds of others applying. Believe me, there’s a good chance you’re getting passed on if you don’t write one regardless of how qualified you are – especially if you’re applying for a position so heavily focused on writing.
With the amount of applicants we had, those who didn’t take the time to send in a cover letter or quick hello with their application were not even considered. It was an easy way to filter out applications on top of our pre-screen questions.
Proof-read (again and again and again)
This position will truly be feeding our content beast. They will be our key staff writer, and should take serious pride in their craft. That being said, the amount of typos I saw in applications was difficult to stomach. We even had folks with headlines on their application profiles (shout out to our ATS, Workable, for allowing people to have headlines, which was neat) that had the incorrect forms of their/there/they’re or your/you’re.
Nothing hurt my grammatically-correct heart more than seeing that right off the bat on an application.
Provide samples when they’re asked for
One of our pre-screening questions on the application was to provide at least two to three writing samples so we could make sure the candidate had the hard skills required for the position before moving forward. The question was required in order to submit the application.
It was unbelievable the amount of folks who said they would either get them to us at a later date or upon request. No, this is the request. Responding like this did not make me, or anyone on my hiring team, intrigued or wanting to move these individuals forward in the process.
There were also a handful of applicants who said they did not have any online writing samples, yet clearly stated they had experience as digital copywriters for at least a few years. Even if you don’t have any samples in that moment, take time to put something together for the request if you’re truly interested in the position.
Answer the open-ended questions
We value the time of the applicants who apply for our open positions. When we put together a job description and application, we make sure to only ask questions that are relevant to our decision of whether or not we will interview them.
When I’m looking through applications, it usually goes in this order: I read the cover letter, check out the last one or two jobs on the resume and any results the candidate has written about there. Then, I check out the answers to the questions that matter to us the most. If you decided to pull a “asdfjkl;” in the answer boxes over and over, even the most impressive resume will not save you.
Working at We Are Mammoth is all about being passionate about what you do – even with the smallest of tasks. These open-ended questions allowed some folks to just exude passion about their craft, and that was absolutely awesome to read. It also was a stark contrast compared to those who did not answer except for providing some filler characters.
Provide results you’ve achieved
Some of the most impressive applications not only told me what they did day-to-day at their current and former jobs, but also related their tasks to what they achieved during that time.
For example, we had candidates who told us not only that they managed large social media communities, but also provided the engagement or growth rates of the communities under their management. Another few candidates provided the results of their writing, such as how many conversions their e-mail lead nurturing campaign produced and what that meant compared to the company’s average conversion rate.
As marketing rapidly becomes a hugely data-driven discipline, the more metrics you can provide within your application, the better.