Written by Karen D. Swim
As children our parents taught us to do the little things like saying please, thank you or covering our mouth when coughing. In the big scheme of things these expressions of etiquette were not going to save the world but they sure would make it a nicer place to live.
As adults we are sometimes so focused on the complex, or the bigger picture that we fail to take note of the small details. We build a whiz bang website but forget to have a call to action. We deliver a stand out proposal but forget to ask for the business. So often it is the small detail that will set us apart from the crowd. Allow me to share a few recent examples.
For two weeks, I received resumes from prospective candidates. The problem? I am not hiring any new employees! However, since I am a Career Marketing Professional, I read each submission. I was horrified by most of these attempts at securing a job. Although, I counsel my own clients on the big and small details, I still assumed that the majority of job seekers got the easy stuff right. Wrong!
- Only one applicant indicated the position sought and addressed me by name.
- Many applicants simply copied and pasted a resume into the body of the email. Of course, with email formatting, it came across as a sloppy, unprofessional mess.
- Not one single person indicated why they were applying.
I responded to every applicant thanking them and even offered leads to a few of the better candidates. I even called one applicant (Tip: When in job seekng mode, always be prepared to speak to a potential employer).
Two people told me they were responding to “my ad.” Neither could tell me where they had seen the ad! I found out later via Google Alerts that someone had placed an ad on Craig’s List. The real employer did not include the URL of his/her company and used the Craig’s List email. Applicants attempted to learn more by searching “Words For Hire” and making direct contact.
Any one of these applicants would have stood out by doing the basics well such as:
- Indicating the reason for applying and where they saw the ad. (The employer may have placed multiple ads!)
- Using the supplied email address (this may have been done for tracking purposes).
- Taking time to do a text friendly resume (takes two minutes, I do this for clients all the time).
Another recent example comes courtesy of marketing emails. These days when you connect with people on LinkedIn or social forums, you are automatically added to their mailing list. (I will discuss this subject in detail in upcoming posts on social media.) I receive lots of ezines, marketing messages and invites in my email box.
With many of the messages, I am not sure how I got on a list or how to get off. These emails often come from an admin address to which you cannot reply. So, when I got an email that took note of these two basic things I noticed! Right at the top it said:
“Dear Friends, Just to jog your memory, we were connected through Linkedin and have become part of one another’s network. I know you will find great value in the article below, and I appreciate your forwarding it to those that you think it might help as well.
Feel free to unsubscribe from my monthly newsletter (and unoccasional notices) by hitting the button below. (But I would definitely miss you!) Stick around for a couple of months and give it a try; I always make the message inspiring and valuable!”
I don’t mind sharing that the note was sent by Laura Fenamore. Not only did she tell me why I was receiving it, but gave me a nice way to opt out (without opting out of being linked to her) with a great soft sell marketing message to boot!
These days, “average” has become “below average.” It is not that hard to rise above the crowd of mediocrity. While fancy graphics and technological wizardry are wonderful, your efforts are diluted if you don’t do the basics well. Yes, I know the basics are not the hot new trend of the day. They are, however, the proven workhorse that the cool kids often overlook. If you want to rise above in today’s competitive marketplace, pay attention to the little things.
How do you make sure you don’t overlook the basics? Are these little things important to you and your customers? Grab a cup of coffee, tea, or beverage of your choice and let’s chat!