Occasionally I’ll reach out to friends who run their own businesses, or who are responsible for hiring staff in their professional roles.
I want to hear about their experiences with people applying for roles, what common trends they are seeing, and how they are dealing with some of the challenges that come up in the hiring process.
Every now and then, someone will let me know if they’ve had an awful experience – or in this case, if they’ve had an exceptional one.
Recently an enterprising friend started Massage World, an e-commerce business that sells massage tables and supplies. He was looking for a customer service person, and as so often happens, had been inundated with applications.
After sifting through the obvious misfits, he got down to the long task of assessing the good candidates. About halfway through the list, he opened an application that really surprised him.
The applicant had made not one, but two purchases from the site – once online, and once over the phone, to test out their existing customer service.
They included their order numbers in the cover letter to show they were legitimate, and then went on to outline a couple of friction points they’d noticed, along with suggestions as to how these could be overcome for future customers.
That is some exceptional lateral thinking, and is absolutely going to get you noticed. And sure – it might not be practical for you to always buy something from the company you want to work for, but it gives you a sense of the kind of effort that’s going to make you blitz your competition in the application process.
Needless to say, my friend hired this customer service gun. The rest of his cover letter had been solid, and his resume backed up his claims to have done great work in the past. It’s working out really well, with the new hire bringing enthusiasm, creativity and consistently good work to the role.