Do you keep applying for jobs without any response? Do you keep reaching out to potential clients on Fiverr or Upwork and only hear crickets in return?
If so, you might be making the BIGGEST MISTAKE most job applicants make… but there is a clear (and easy) SOLUTION.
Follow the simple advice I lay out in this article, and on your next job application or client response, you will not only get a postivie reply but also a much greater chance of getting hired!
The #1 Mistake Job Applicants Make (& The 3-Step Solution)
The #1 MISTAKE people make when applying for a job is not reading the ENTIRE job posting.
What most people do is skim the job posting, and then copy & paste the same cover letter and resume to every job.
Not only is this lazy, but it's a HUGE turn-off for potential employers who are serious about finding the right person to hire.
You should only skim through job descriptions when you’re narrowing down your options. Once you find a job (or a gig) that appeals to you, you need to stop skimming and start reading.
That's the first step: READ. EVERY. WORD.
Whether it’s a 3-sentence gig description on Fiverr or a 3-page job description... you'll want to slow down and really take the time to read (multiple times if you have to).
You need to read every word so you can better understand what the employer is looking for. Then, you can mirror your response to best display how you’re a good fit for the position.
That's the second step: Mirror your response to match their posting.
When I say "mirror", I mean customize your cover letter, resume, and response for that specific employer and for that particular position. You should view your current cover letter and resume only as a template—not as one-size-fits-all documents.
When you have a cover letter and resume that is SPECIFIC to the job or gig you're applying for, the hiring manager will greatly appreciate your attention to detail and see that you are sincerely interested in the position.
If you do it the way I'm telling you, the funny thing is that even if you don’t meet all of their requirements, they will often still consider you because of your extra effort and attention to detail.
Lastly, you need to make it easy to contact you! Have your email, phone number and other contact information clearly visible on your email, cover letter, resume, and application!
I know. It sounds silly. But you'd be surprised at how many people don't do this.
So, let’s summarize:
1. Slow down and read the details carefully.
2. Make your application mirror their requests.
3. Make it easy to contact you.
What an employer wants more than anything out of a candidate is someone willing to put the time and brainpower required to do a job… and to do it well. By carefully reading, mirroring your application, and being well-organized, you are showing them how you work, not just telling them.
How to Get Employers to Respond to Your Job Application
The reason I know employers look for mirrored applications is because I am one such employer. And frankly, I am surprised by how few applicants even read my job descriptions before responding.
I recently posted a position for immediate hire, and I immediately dismissed 90% of the responses. It was clear that they had not read the description and were not genuinely interested in the position (just the paycheck). If they couldn’t take the time to read the description, why would I take the time to consider them?
To better understand what I'm talking about, let's do this...
I’m going to walk you through one of my ACTUAL job listings and some of the bad responses I received.
I’ll explain what they did wrong and how you can do better.
This way, you've got an actual case-study that you can use to understand exactly how to make yourself more appealing to the person doing the hiring.
What an Employer Looks For (Case Study)
Let's start by taking a look at one of my actual job postings from not too long ago...
In the above job description, you’ll note that I mentioned my name, provided my website address, and generally introduced myself.
I explained my goal and the broad view of what I’m looking for in an applicant. Then, I say that I’m going to list in more detail what I’m looking for.
Can you guess one of the first things I look for in a response?... My name!!!
If an applicant addresses me by name, I immediately know this isn’t a one-size-fits-all response. But the tailoring can’t end there.
Another plus is if the applicant mentions something they liked about my website or videos to prove that they looked more into my brand. Even better if they say something about my goal or timeline of 6 months.
But they can’t stop reading there…
In the next section of my job description, I list out what I am looking for. I even number the items because my hope is that the applicant will return numbered responses. I want them to address every single item because that is every single thing I am looking for.
Check this: I would rather have them respond that they don’t fit that description than not respond at all.
For instance, item #2 says I’m looking for a social media badass to manage and grow Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube accounts. If someone responded that they are total badasses in Facebook and IG but may need a little training in YouTube, I’d be ecstatic! Because not only did they respond, but they responded honestly.
In truth, I don’t expect an applicant to meet every single criterion. Of course, I hope they do, but I don’t expect it. What I’m really looking for is the best fit that shows interest in learning and improving as needed.
That’s what every employer looks for!
Is this making sense so far?
What Not to Do if You Want a Response From an Employer
Now, here are some of the actual responses I received to that job listing. These are far cries from what I was hoping for, but these represent the majority of replies from people.
(Note:I've blurred out anyone's personal information)
Believe it or not, the obvious lack of proper grammar and punctuation is not the main reason I dismissed this response.
The main reason I dismissed this response is that they just said “the job.” They probably had no idea what the “job” was other than the job title of the listing.
I can actually overlook some minor grammar and punctuation mistakes (note I did say minor) because people make mistakes. In fact, I recently hired someone for a content writing gig even though they misused “your” and “you’re”… and that was for a writing project!
I overlooked their typo because they thoroughly responded to my job description and showed sincere interest in the position.
Plus, as soon as they realized their writing error, they admitted their mistake and assured me they use grammar-checking tools for their delivered content. What they showed me was just as important (if not more) than what they wrote.
Did you catch that? The effort you show is as important as what you write.
Now check out one of the other responses I got...
This example might look okay at first glance, but there are some obvious signs this is simply a copy-and-paste application.
First, he addressed me as “Sir/Madam.” He didn’t even narrow it down to Sir!
Then, he listed a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t even mention. So, while this may seem like a detailed response, it does not address any of the details I specified.
Where did I say I wanted/need anything having to do with Joomla, Droople, software integration, XHTML, Apache, and the half-dozen other things he listed?
I mean, it might have been OK if he listed this stuff AFTER addressing my core needs, but the stuff I said I needed wasn't even on his radar.
He put in more effort than the previous applicant, but it was only an upfront effort to create a standard response. That extra time spent only captured one additional second of my attention than the short response with terrible grammar.
If he took the time to respond to each employer individually (as opposed to just pasting his "let me just list a bunch of stuff" cover letter) , he would have to apply to far fewer employers.
When it comes to job applications, quality beats quantity every time! Take the time to apply to each job properly and you won't have to apply to as many jobs.
What to Do to Get a Response From an Employer
Read EVERYTHING so you can show your potential employer that you pay attention to detail and put in the extra effort compared to your competition.
Customize your cover letter and resume using keywords and critical information from the job description.
For instance, any of these keywords from my job posting would have caught and kept my attention in an application:
- 6 months
- Tech savvy
- Social Media Badass,
- EXTREMELY comfortable
- Instagram, Twitter, YouTube
- Editing skills
- Hungry & a hard worker
Thoughtfully pull words and info directly from the job listing to show that you’re really invested in this application.
By simply reading and thoroughly responding SPECIFICALLY to each item listed, I can almost guarantee that you will get a response. That means you can at least start the conversation.
Even if you’re not quite right for the job, they will likely respond to show you the same respect you showed them. Then, you can respectfully and professionally respond, addressing their concerns and further highlight why you’d be a good employee.
The Same is True for Responding to Potential Clients
The same concepts apply to freelancers and other businesses that must attract clients. The only difference is you’re responding to potential clients rather than potential employers. And in reality, those are the same thing—you are going to be working for your clients on Fiverr, Upwork, etc., as you would an employer.
So, the only real difference is your time commitment to the “employer/client.” It might only be for one project or a limited time, but it’s still a job. As a job, you still need to show that you read everything and respond thoroughly.
Granted, your response does not have to be as thorough as when applying for a formal, long-term position. But you still want to hit all the key details.
Tell you what...
Let me give you an example.
Check out this posting I made on Fiverr for the same position....
The first thing you may notice is that even on this “less formal” platform, I wanted to ensure that responders had read the entire request.
I even went as far as inserting a math problem for them to answer in their response—this is actually a common tactic among employers! It’s a quick and sure-fire way to see if they read your job description. Anyone who doesn't answer the math problem gets their application instantly deleted.
And guess what? Even though I warned them in the very beginning that I was going to test whether they ACTUALLY read it, I STILL got a bunch of generic responses.
But then, I got this response…
The responder mentioned me by name, numbered his responses, answered my math problem, and went the extra mile by relating to my struggle in finding a quality Social Media manager.
He did all of that in less than 30 words!
He caught my attention, kept my attention, and started a conversation. So, I reached out to him and scheduled a time for us to chat.
And while I didn't hire this guy (because I found someone who was more suited for the position), I kept his information on file and if the opportunity ever comes up, I'll hire him for another project or refer him to one of my friends!
Your Job is to Solve the Problem the Potential Employer Has
Think of it this way...
Every potential employer has a problem.
They need help with X, Y, and Z.
And they HATE having to sift through endless resumes and applications just to find one person who seems like they might be a good fit.
That means that you have an opportunity!
You have an opportunity to be THE SOLUTION to their problem.
And all you have to do to prove that you're the solution is respond to EXACTLY what they're looking for.
Stop copying and pasting the same resume to everyone. Employers hate that shit.
If they tell you they're looking for help with X, Y, and Z...
Then make sure your cover letter & resume specifically mention X, Y, and Z.
Don’t make the #1 mistake people make when applying for a job. Read the job description in its entirety and provide a thorough response.
If you do this, you can expect to get far more responses and a far greater chance of landing the job.
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