If you’re one of the many job hunters scouring Craigslist, I know who you are.
No, not because I’m affiliated with them in any way, but because I’ve run several ads on the board in order to hire new employees—and in doing so, I’ve probably seen your name. In addtion, I've learned plenty about the actions that hold job hunters back.
From missing cover letters
to typos and other gaffes, many professionals aren’t taking the time to analyze how their responses will be perceived by employers, and it shows
in their responses to job postings.
To boost your chances of success on Craigslist and other online venues, you’ll need to avoid these critical, yet common mistakes when applying to a job posting:
1 - Forgetting to include a cover letter in the body of the email.
I hate to tell you this, but there’s no way that an employer will read your resume if you do this. Why?
Well, most job postings include requirements on communications skills, and when you send a blank email with an attachment, you’ve lost a valuable chance to prove your capabilities.
2 - Neglecting to tell the employer how your experience fits the job.
While including a generic message in the body of your email trumps simply pushing “Send,” it is truly obvious when you haven’t taken the time to include a description of your skills that is tailored to the position.
As an example, “I’m very excited about this opportunity. I’ve attached a cover letter and resume for the hiring manager. My past jobs and experience make me a great candidate for this position” can be written by anyone that is targeting any job—at any company!
3 - Sending a resume that in no way resembles the job requirements.
Many times, I’ve opened up a reply only to find that while the applicant stated his or her experience with a particular technology or tool in the cover letter, the attached resume contained NO mention of the same skill.
While you may want to sell your unique ability to learn, if you’ve made a key point in the cover letter, be sure to include it in the resume as well. This backs up your claim and lets employers see how you’ve gained experience applicable to their needs.
4 - Responding to a blind ad with receipt required in your email.
If an employer wants to disclose their identity, they will find a way to do so. Sending an email that is receipt-required is considered taboo in most business settings, but even more so when the recipient is interested in protecting their identity.
Therefore, you’ll find that most employers consider this a quick turn-off and will simply delete your application.
5 - Sending a note that asks if the opportunity is “real” before you’ll issue a resume.
In today’s cutthroat business world, employers rarely have time to respond to requests like these.
If you’re truly unsure about sending your application, then drop out of consideration instead of issuing a demand for identification.
6 – Ignoring employer instructions.
Most employers that include the phrase “No phone calls please” are simply telling you that they cannot respond to every inquiry.
While finding out the name of a company insider is an admirable move, it’s nearly impossible on a blind ad, and doing so will irritate a prospective employer. Therefore, I advise against Googling “national software operations company in Denver” to uncover a name that is hidden (for a reason).
7 – Committing the faux pas of inserting another company name or position type in your response.
Yes, most employers realize that you’re applying to other job postings, and that you possess sufficient qualifications to do so.
Just don’t remind them by leaving in the sentence fragment that details your interest in ABC’s manufacturing operation, especially when you’re applying to another employer’s human resources administration position.
In summary, while these types of mistakes may seem rare, they’re actually commonplace to employers that post job ads on Craigslist (I’ve seen every one, multiple times, and all examples cited are REAL).
You can shorten your job search significantly by remembering to apply the rules of business communications etiquette—even if you’re responding to a blind ad—to each communications opportunity with a prospective employer.
Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CIC is a Denver-based resume expert, job search authority, and former recruiter whose work opens doors to top corporate opportunities for executives and senior-level professionals. A triple-certified writer and career coach, she is also the National Resumes Examiner and a frequent blogger on resume writing and job hunting practices.