Operation Find A Job Pt. 3–How To Apply

3) You Don’t Know How To Apply. A lot of people seem to think Craigslist is a scam. But in my experience, it’s the best place to apply for jobs. There are definitely scam listings on Craigslist, but you have to learn how to spot them before you submit a resume. I always try to look for an email address that seems valid that is posted in the ad, i.e. it has a company name in the address, and look for a company name or site address that looks professional (i.e. not salesbiz.com) in the listing. I also look at how much the advertised salary is, and if it seems too high for the job description I don’t apply.

I pay attention to how often I see the same ad listed, spelling and grammar, and how the job itself is described. There are job ads that seem to be posted on Craigslist several times a month for several months, and that just seems odd to me–seems that if it’s a real position it ought to be filled within a month, and even if they’re having to re-hire that tells you something, too. I’ve mentioned a few times on my blog about a previous job I had where I repaired laptops, and I see that company advertising all the time on Craigslist. It’s a legitimate job, but there’s a reason they’re always hiring–the best employees get tired of the bullschitt and leave at some point, and they “lay off” people who can’t meet their unrealistic standards all the time but they lie to them about why they’ve been laid off, i.e. that they don’t have enough work.

Also, I’ve found that legitimate Craigslist ads tend to be fairly well-written, though this is not 100%. More on this in a second, but the general rule is ignore ads in all caps, poor spelling, and poor grammar–especially if they don’t have any information such as a company name or an email address that seems legitimate or professional, not a Hotmail or Yahoo! one. And be wary of jobs that seem too good to be true or like they will hire anyone, or jobs that sound like sales or multi-level marketing jobs that don’t pay a steady salary.

Another good use of Craigslist can be posting your own “seeking work” ad, but it depends on how you write it. No matter what, you will get a bunch of fake emails. But if you’re creative enough and write the ad with your mind towards what employers look for, you will also get actual employers responding to you. I actually got a job this way once, and the woman who responded to me sent a poorly-written email. If she hadn’t put the company’s phone number in the email for me to look up online and verify it was a legitimate business, I might have ignored it. But it turned into a job interview, and I was hired.

The first thing you’ll have to do is write a subject line that stands out from the hundreds of other “seeking” ads on Craigslist. Second, in the ad make yourself sound like an employer’s dream–no excuses, always on time, can-do attitude, pleasant demeanor. Make yourself sound like an ass kisser who is always happy and willing. Third, let them know what skills you have and what you’re interested in. I’ve been contacted for legitimate positions almost every single time I’ve posted this kind of ad (just not always with the kind of position I wanted), but it really starts with having the right subject line in order to get employers to click–something creative and something that lets employers know you’re different from other employees. Make it sound like it’s all about them, not about how you need a job right this instant.

So, I’ve gotten several jobs through Craigslist, but anyone who reads the blog enough will also see that I’ve gotten jobs through employment agencies, as well. In my opinion, employment agencies are hit-or-miss, especially depending on where you live, and you also have to be looking for certain kinds of jobs in order for them to be of real use. Employment agencies weren’t worth schitt for me when I was in Chicago, but they’ve been the primary way I’ve found work since being back in my hometown. In Chicago, it just could have been the kinds of jobs I was looking for, as I had no IT experience back then and wasn’t really looking for IT jobs when I first got there. But in my hometown, it almost feels as if IT jobs primarily hire through employment agencies. Pretty much everyone I’ve worked with at my current and previous jobs came through an employment agency, even if they are now full-time employees directly of the company for which we work.

I’ve also found jobs through job listings on college career services sites, and this was despite not technically being a student at that particular college.

I think these are the best ways to find jobs–Craigslist, employment agencies and career services sites. I have never heard a peep through sites like Indeed or SimplyHired, and the one time I heard anything from sites like Monster is when an employment agency posted an ad there (the one through which I’m currently employed).

I think filling out applications in any way, shape or form is a waste of time. You always want to apply for jobs to which you submit just your resume and cover letter. If they want an app after that, that’s fine. But you need someone to actually look at your resume, and you’re probably not going to get that when you apply via app, especially if you apply online. Most, if not all, sites use a filtering key word system that will wipe out even qualified applicants, but the thing is their applications are extensive and time-consuming. It’s not worth it to spend an hour filling out an application when you have a better shot at a job where you just email your resume after writing a 10-minute tailored cover letter.

And I’m surprised that people still physically go out and submit resumes or apps. This, too, is largely a waste, in my opinion. What’s worse is some people still advise people to do this. I’ve seen people say that it helps your chances for the employer to see you.

Look, I’ve worked places where people would come in and ask for applications or submit apps they filled out already. Greater than 9 times out of 10, you’re handing in your application to someone who has absolutely nothing to do with hiring you. That person takes your app and puts it in a stack that no one touches or in a mail thingy on the manager’s office door. That manager might go through those apps if someone quits or is fired and he needs someone right away, but more often than not your app is merely one in a million that just sits somewhere. The manager will hire someone via recommendation from a current employee, family member or from an employment agency before he hires someone who submits a handwritten app. And even if you get the opportunity to hand your resume or app directly to a hiring manager, it usually makes no difference at all. He/she will encourage you to your face, but your app is still going in the stack of infinity.

You don’t need to go anywhere. And the thing about going out asking for apps is these places usually aren’t looking to hire, kind of as I suggested above. Just stay home, hop on the computer, make sure your resume is alright, pound out a good cover letter for each job ad you like and submit resumes via email. Focus on places that actually say they are hiring and are asking for submissions–this gets more results than physically pounding the pavement and submitting apps to random businesses.

And one more thing before I move on–passing your resume on to someone else to pass on. I haven’t seen where this works, either. Usually, the person to whom you give your resume has no real influence, so it’s as good as your emailing your resume to wherever this person is sending it.

You’ll notice that I don’t mention networking, although that’s not to say that networking doesn’t work. But I recognize that most of us don’t have that networking sort of personality, including myself, and aren’t going to do it no matter what. Many job advice articles you read will continue to tell you that you need to network, but I’m telling you whatever I think is more important, works more often or is something that any of us can or simply must do. You don’t have to network. Still, in a sense, I did get my last job through networking. The best part was I hadn’t purposely set out to network my way into a job when it happened, which is so awkward. Whenever I’ve tried to network, it didn’t get me anywhere. So I say don’t force networking. Focus on the other tips I’m giving you, and if you see a natural opportunity to network with which you feel comfortable take it.

Next Time: Pt. 4–The Truth About Job Interviews

Pt. 1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

Pt. 2–Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

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