About a month ago I posted an ad on Craigslist, looking for someone who would come to my home and clean. Not that remarkable. But reading through the ads reminded me (again!) how some people self-sabotage when it comes to getting clients and other areas I see this happening.
When it helps, I’ll include some of the actual responses I received and one application for a different job that led to me hiring the sender.
When you’re the one hiring, it helps to be as clear as possible about what you are offering. Otherwise, you’re going to be giving a lot of information by email or phone and covering the basics up front allows people to self-select (when they’re okay with those terms) or opt-out and no one’s time is wasted.
Response #1 Can you tell me what the job entail.. Location.. I’m in between jobs so if this isn’t permanent I ask for cash
First problem is that the ad details what the job would entail so already I know you can’t read if I give you a list. This is problematic because I prefer to make up a list of tasks and then get back to my own work instead of babysitting.
As for location, the general location is in the ad, I’m certainly not going to email a stranger with my address.
But the big red flag is there at the end “if this isn’t permanent I ask for cash.” Huh? Being overly specific or demanding in the first communication is never a good sign. The ad did say I would be paying cash and wanted someone who could work weekly for a couple months. If you state you’re in between jobs that’s code for “I’ll drop this gig as soon as I can.”
Instead of conveying that you’re going to be looking for something better, I want to know that the person I hire is interested in this job, even if it’s not long term.
Response #2 My name is [redacted]. I can REALLY use that gig and the money. i would at LEAST like the opportunity to show that I have changed from my mistakes and then I am worth taking a leap of faith on.
Those who say honesty is the best policy were not talking about job applications. I appreciate when someone really needs income but translate that into work by saying how hard you’re going to work for ME, not how bad you have it.
Also, when you use terms like “changed from my mistakes” the mind goes crazy trying to understand what those mistakes could have been. Did you show up late to your shifts? Steal from your employer? Shank a customer in the bathroom?! Now you’re a risk because hiring you is the Schrodinger’s cat of mysteries. I’d rather not discover someone has a major drug habit or is violent against animals when I’ve let them into my home.
Instead of coming across as desperate and referencing your needs focus on your desire to help and show your passion for the work, not the money. And we all know it’s a little fake but all of work is a little pretending.
Response #3 Hi my name is [redacted], I have 10+ years of experience in residential vleanings/organizing wirk. I have been working part time for a professional cleaning company for the past 4 years and I’m always looking for work of my own to do on the side. I am trustwoethy, reliable and hard working. … The best way to reach me right now is email or text [redacted]. I will be paying my phone bill on Friday then you can reach me at [redacted]. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!!!
Okay this one is a little harder to parse and I’ve only removed the personal information when copying it over. You’ll see several misspellings which isn’t terrible, this job is cleaning not copy editing so it doesn’t bother me. It is a slight indication of poor attention to detail if we’re going to be picky but if this candidate was the only applicant not a big problem.
The real issue is at the end “I will be paying my phone bill on Friday then you can reach me” translates to “my phone got cut off.” Welp. I’m not going to say if you’ve ever been late on a bill then you can’t take this job but communication and being able to reach someone is key.
Once I planned to meet a personal assistant at Starbucks, messaged with the time and then again to say I was sitting outside and what I was wearing. She was 45 minutes late because she sat inside, without her phone/email available and didn’t see me (there were 3 people at this location so it wasn’t a crowd issue). I don’t tend to work with people who can’t be reached or who I need to keep track of how to contact them based on if they’ve paid a bill or not.
Response #4 Hey, how are you? My namea [redacted] contacting you regarding your cl post.
Yep, that’s the whole reply. Don’t overwhelm me with details here! At least try to make a connection and share why I should hire you instead of playing hard to get.
Honestly, I’ll get 7-8 of these responses every time I post and they all get deleted.
Now, let’s talk about a reply that actually got someone hired. This was for a different job posting when I wanted to hire 2 people to work in my yard for a day. I clearly stated the pay, the hours, the general location and the work that I would need done. Here’s the best response from the person I ended up hiring:
My name is [redacted] and my brother and I are both available on Saturday AND Sunday if needed. We are both construction workers, however our father owns a landscaping business in which we both grew up working for him. We worked for him all through college. We have a lot of experience in all sorts of gardening, landscaping, painting, concrete, brick, building overhangs, roofing, basic electrical, and pretty much anything you might need.
My phone number is: [redacted]
I hope to hear from you, thank you for your consideration.
Can you see a difference? This applicant solved my first problem by having 2 people in 1 reply which meant less coordinating on my end, they offered 2 days or both days if the work required it. He mentions specific experience and showed that they could do a lot more than I was asking for. And despite the fact I was hiring for hands in the dirt, hauling, messy work, the email was polite, free from spelling issues and easy contact information.
When you’re applying to work with a new client, sending a proposal or email, or even talking face-to-face, it’s important to consider the message you’re sending. Often a little thought and work goes a long way to help you stand out from the crowd.