————— Forwarded message —————
From: Shea Gunther
Date: Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Subject: You applied for a position at my clean tech news site
If you're reading this, it means that you applied for one of the positions open at my new clean tech news site (this ad-> http://louisville.craigslist.org/wri/2894902027.html
). I'm Shea and it's been my job to do the first read-through of the 900+ applications that have poured in as a result of our ad.
I have gone through each of the applications as they have come in and picked out the best 50 or so to be passed into the second round of consideration. Some of you are amazing candidates that I am really excited to learn more about. Those of you who are passed into the second round of consideration will be hearing from us soon, if you haven't been contacted by us already.
Others applications have come in from strong writers who just aren't a great fit for what we are trying to do. When you have a pool of 900+ applications, you can be picky, and we passed over many worthy people simply because they don't have enough experience in clean technology and green media. I would advise anyone without enough of the right experience who wants to break into environmental writing to start a personal blog and write about the things you want to get paid to cover. You are welcome to get back in touch with us in the future after you've built a more focused portfolio.
Beyond those two groups, there were applications that were skipped over after just a quick read—the brutal truth is that the very worst applications got less than a few seconds of consideration. Often I could tell from the first few words of an application that it would be passed over. I was helped by the fact that we are hiring writers; if a person can't craft a good email applying for a writing job, she's unlikely to be the kind of writer we are looking to hire.
As I went through your applications, I couldn't help but jot down ideas on how some of you could improve your job hunting email skills. As evidenced by the response to our ad, there are a lot of people out there looking for work right now and you need every advantage that you can get if you want to beat them to a good job. If your application email sucks, you are going to be left looking for work for a long time because you will get flushed out with the first filter every time you apply for a job. Some of your applications are that bad.
I have broken my suggestions down into a list of 42 writing job application dos and don'ts.
• Do be a badass.
I actually hired one of the 900+ applicants within minutes of reading his application. He writes for a popular site that I'm a huge fan of and is a terrifically talented writer. After I first read his email, I looked up his writing and found a lot of articles that I have enjoyed over the years. I replied back asking if he'd like to work for us. Later that day, his friend and colleague applied and was similarly insta-hired. These two guys are dream hires for us (don't tell them that though, don't want them to get cocky around the virtual office) and it was easy to pull the trigger and bring them on board quickly.
A lot of those applicants who passed into the second round have experience writing for outlets like the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, CNN, MNN, and Mashable. When I saw a portfolio link from sites like that, I quickly added the writer to the second round list and moved on to the next new application. A prominent portfolio link won't get you hired by us, but it will earn you a closer consideration.
• Do read the ad and do exactly what it asks.
Here's the section of our ad that describes how to apply:
If you would like to apply for any of the positions detailed above, please send an email with "Clean Tech Application" in the subject and the following information included or attached:
- Your resume
- 2-3 social media links (your public Facebook account, Twitter, StumbleUpon, that kind of stuff)
- One paragraph on why we should hire you
- 3-5 links to great things you have written
Please note: We're sticklers for details.
All initial hiring decisions will be made by April 1st.
I made it very clear that anyone interested in the jobs described in the ad should send an email with "Clean Tech Application" in the subject with a resume, 2-3 social media links, 3-5 links of great portfolio pieces, and a paragraph on why the applicant was worthy of a hire. Right below that I even included a strong hint that we're sticklers for details. I meant it.
The ideal application was a correctly subjected email with a paragraph of text, 2-3 social media links, and 3-5 portfolio links. It was a test for how much attention to detail you actually pay and it was a valuable tool to have in the filtering process. I didn't adhere to a strict policy of passing over applicants because they didn't exactly fit into the ideal, but when I was faced with a borderline applicant who shared eleven stories he had written, I was more inclined to pass him over.
• Don't talk yourself into being filtered out.
An application email is not the place for over-zealous humble self-awareness. Some of you lead your email saying that while that you may not be the greatest writer or have any experience in clean technology or an English degree or even ever blogged before, that you are ready to prove yourself with your hard work and perseverance. While I appreciate the admission of not being the perfect candidate, you don't want that to be the first thing you tell me if you want me to hire you. It shouldn't be the third or ninth either. Talk about your strengths, not your weaknesses. Let your work speak for you.
• Don't tell me how great this job would be for you.
One of the best things about starting up a new site like this is being able to give good work to great writers. I am happy and excited to help someone further their career goals and pay their bills, but that is not the first thing I want to read about in your application email. Focus on telling me how you can help out our organization.
• Don't boast about how many articles or posts you have written.....