About two weeks ago I posted on my Instagram a position for joining the Show it Better team. The post was very straightforward and clear. I was looking for someone based in Colombia that could speak English fluently and had very good knowledge of architecture software.
Since I knew I didn’t want my gmail inbox bombarded, I chose to have my Instagram DM’s bombarded. I asked that everyone send their curriculum, portfolio and cover letter through Instagram.
I received a ton of applications from very talented people! It was very exciting to see but it was also notorious that many of them had some repeating patterns that I would not recommend when applying for a job. So in this post I just want to maybe talk about what are the most important things you should keep in mind when sending an application for a job.
- Cover letter: Be formal but be yourself.
Throughout the applications I saw there were three types of people. The first one was the very informal one, which I found to be a bit disrespectful (?). There were messages that read:
“Hi, I want to work with you, I don´t have a portfolio but check my Instagram to see my work. I hope I get the job!”
This is NOT the right thing to do! First, it shows that you didn’t even bother in putting together a portfolio or cover letter for the job. Second, although you are messaging through Direct messages on social media, it doesn´t mean you should put less effort than what you put in an e-mail.
The second type of person was the too formal. Their messages were so formal that it almost seemed kind of generic and something they had sent before to other job positions. Their message read something like this:
“Dear Sir/ Madam, I am writing to show my interest in your latest job offer. I am an architect with extensive knowledge in (Insert software here) and I would be a great addition to the team. For years I have worked in….(etc.). I hope you take this into consideration….(Etc.).”
Although this may seem right from some perspective, when reading many of these messages consequently I found them to be very generic. Why? Well honestly I felt they were talking to any architecture company. There was no specific interest in Show It Better or in why they would be a good fit for Show It Better.
Finally the third type was the “just right” type. They were applicants that were sincere, honest and respectful. Since they were so original it is hard to quote any of them because they all had different stories and intentions. But for the sake of this story, their offer read a bit like this:
“Hi Steven, my name is (NAME) and for years I have been following what you do, since your Youtube Channel up to your daily posts. I am obsessed with architecture representation and I believe SIB is the proof that we can educate to many people around the world that passion. Maybe I am not an expert in (subject) but I am dying to learn and be a part of this project. Here is my portfolio, cv….etc”
Much better, right? Their approach was a very sincere and honest one. It wasn´t overly formal or informal. It was adequate to the language and context of the application. Now if you are applying to architecture firms with over thousands of employees and are certain you are going to be reviewed by an HR department, then you might have to incline to be a bit more formal. But still then I would recommend on being yourself.
2. Portfolio: Don´t make it complicated.
The reason I wanted to receive the applications through Instagram was that I could check it on my phone quickly and also expected for the applicants to send me a link of their ISSUU portfolio. But sadly that is not what happened. Although many did send me a link, many sent me a message explaining why they couldn’t upload their portfolio to the Direct Message platform. Others sent me a google drive link to download a PDF to see their portfolio. There were also many others that just said, my Instagram is my portfolio.
My opinion is that you should keep it as simple as possible and not create so much friction between the future employer and your portfolio. The best option is uploading your portfolio to a platform like ISSUU, this makes it easier to access and maintains a nice aesthetic. If you have a heavy file which needs to be downloaded through Google Drive and it takes ages to download then you have to learn to compress your files or make your portfolio much more concise and short.
3. CV: One image is enough
What I saw many people did right was with their CV. They sent me an image with their CV page and that was it, perfect! Now where many made many mistakes was in over saturating that one page. Although you might have a very interesting curriculum, it can be very easy to want to saturate it with information to show off. Because the more information, the better. Right? Wrong.
In your CV you have to be selective with your information. But minimum you should have the following:
- Basic Contact information
- Work experience
- Skills and meta skills
So in conclusion, you should think twice before copying and pasting your application to many companies at once. Be honest, be respectful and as an architect..show it better. Show your application in the best way possible.