Your High School Guidance Counsellor was Wrong

Let me preface this post with “this is my personal blog and doesn’t reflect the opinions of my employer”.  I’d be really damn surprised if a single one of them disagreed with me on this though.

Hey, we’re hiring at Harvest!  Go ahead, click the link and check out the job ad.  It’ll give you some context which will come in handy for what I’m about to write.  I can wait.

Okay, back now?  Good.  Does that sound like the type of job ad written by a hiring manager or an HR manager?  If you answered yes, please don’t apply!  That job ad was written by me and my fellow supporters at Harvest.  We’re the ones who are going to work with you and so you have to meet OUR standards.  Not some buzzword-laden checklist from an HR department.  Basically, if you’re considering writing to us using words like synergy, team player, or my personal favorite, pitching yourself as a “work at home professional”, don’t.  You’re not going to get a response.

Here’s Jon’s tips for applying to Harvest, and I think a lot of this is applicable to a number of tech companies:

1. Find out about the company, and tailor your application

This is the one point I’ll agree with from those career development seminars.  Take 10 minutes and read through the “About” section of our web site.  When was Harvest founded.  What does Harvest do?  How many people work at Harvest? Where are we located? What does the culture sound like? (this is really important)  Referring to Harvest as a “tech startup” isn’t going to get you AUTOMATICALLY disqualified, but it’s not going to reflect favourably on you either.  Harvest has been around and profitable since 2006.  7 years of profitability with no outside investors isn’t exactly synonymous with a startup.  Even if you want to broaden the definition, we aren’t a startup anymore, after surviving the first 3 to 5 years, we graduated to just being a company.  We’re a tech company.

Your generic cover letter/resume attached as Word documents to a blank email are going to find their way into my trash can.

2. Those questions that we ask in the ad? They’re a filter.  That’s all.

There’s no right or wrong answer to “what’s better, Android or iOS?”.  But avoiding taking a stand and being able to argue your point shows a distinct lack of critical thinking skills.  Similarly, taking a stand but not putting effort into your argument is a waste of time.

Above all else, answer the questions, do it in a friendly but professional manner and show some personality.  I’m not going to hire you to talk like a robot to our customers, they deserve better than that. You need to impress us with your writing/communication abilities.

3. Some shady job boards scraped our job ad and reposted it

If you saw our ad on “Work at home peepz” or some other 3rd party site, I’m sorry.  You’re missing a pile of context because this site has reposted our ad (we haven’t paid them to advertise it).  Harvest wouldn’t post  an ad on RatRaceRebellion (don’t bother clicking that link, the site is dreadful) – we’re looking for high quality candidates.  So if you open by saying that you found out about us on one of these sites, and that you have years of work at home experience and that it’s clear that you didn’t bother to even look at our web site, don’t bother applying.

4. Don’t follow up

This a personal request.  Put everything you’ve got into your initial application.  If you’re awesome, we’ll contact you.  If you don’t hear back from us, I’m sorry and good luck in your job search.  Yes, I received your application along with 400 others.  Yours did not make the cut.  You following up with additional messages aren’t going to move you to the top of the pile, they’re just going to irritate me because I have to hit delete again. 

5. Be creative/show personality

Customer support is a job where you help people.  People like personality, they like to talk to a human being.  We could shut down our phones, and reply to all email with a robo-message if we wanted to treat our customers like that.  We don’t.

One of the support people at Harvest got a job by making a video about why he wanted to work at Harvest and why he’d be a good fit.  I built a web site.  I think the other Harvestar did the same.  Point being, something like that shows originality, it stands out.  I’ve seen a pile of resumes and answers to the same 3 questions.  A few applications have stood out because they went a step or two further.  Increase your chances.  If your application makes me smile, I guarantee that you’ll at least get a phone call.

That’s about it.  I can’t guarantee that will get you a job, but that will get your foot in the door and keep your message out of my trash can.