3 mistakes that get applicants rejected

I’ve hired hundreds of freelancers, VAs, and team members over the years.

And here are the 3 big mistakes that candidates continue to make.

Hey Dennis Yu here. And the reason you’re watching this video is that we want to improve your chances of getting a job with us. We’re hiring like crazy because we’re so fortunate to have so many clients and partners, but I want to tell you about some of the mistakes people make when they apply. So the first mistake is that they just straight up reach out to me or other folks in the team with zero preparation.

So if you just send a canned message. That says, dear, sir. And then it just has stuff that shows you clearly didn’t put any time to research what our company does. You’re not following us on social media. You haven’t clearly seen the kinds of projects that we have. Then you’re going to look like the thousands of other people that are just blasting their resume out.

So number one, make sure you put in a little bit of time, personalize your message to say something specific about what you’ve learned to show that you stand out and that will put you in. Of 95% of the other candidates. Number two is grammatical errors and other kinds of mistakes. So we’re looking at your ability to communicate.

If you have errors in there and capitalization and punctuation, that’s going to hurt your chances, even if English is not your first language. That’s totally okay. We have a lot of folks in the Philippines and Pakistan and Brazil and other places, but you have to show that you can communicate very clearly.

Doesn’t mean you have to be a writer or you have to be able to write books or things like that, but just avoid things that are sloppy or have grammatical mistakes. Number three is the follow-up. So when you want to know how you’re doing, then you want to make sure you’re paying close attention to the instructions.

So the instructions for any particular job are going to be something like send a note to Juan or make a one minute video and post it on LinkedIn. Or send something with a subject line that has like squirrel in it. These are all ways where we are testing your ability to follow directions. So that’s what knocks out most candidates because they can’t pay attention to detail.

And so when we’re working in a team where it’s not just you, but it’s a team of us that are working together in different groups, it’s absolutely critical that you can work closely with these other team members. If you come to me every single day, And that shows that you can’t work in a team, right? It doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from you, but if you can imagine, like the guy Jim, who started Costco, if everyone went to the CEO of Costco across all the different stores of Costco, like they would just never get anything done.

Cause it would just be chaos. You’ve got to learn to follow directions and know who to contact for who, so it could be other team members. They could be someone who’s in a particular group. There’s always some instructions. And you want to demonstrate that you can. Figure out who is the right person to contact or be able to solve problems for yourself or go through the training.

Certainly reach out when it’s a question that does deserve to where there’s a clarification that you need. But remember that if you’re applying the team is evaluating your ability to follow directions. And then by the questions you ask that tells us your comprehension and how well you understand.

So if you can follow those three. Yes, there’s a good likelihood that you’re going to be way ahead of everyone else. Who’s applying for a particular position, or maybe you want to be a project manager. Maybe you already have 20 years of experience running an agency and you want to work with us. That’s great too.

I can tell you if it’s working for me, first thing I’m going to do is see whether you’ve engaged with our content and whether you have the expertise, as opposed to wanting to get me on the phone right away, where I have to explain what our company does. Because I’m going to look you up before we meet in the same way, you should look me up and figure out how to make the best use of your time and the best use of my time.

So I hope that helps you. Good luck. There’s so much opportunity. I would love to find some way to be able to create a million jobs, which is our mission. And so glad to have friends like John Jonas of online jobs, not pH our friends at five. Josh Nelson, who’s got a bunch of seven figure agencies in his group.

So we’re helping agencies scale. If you’re an agency owner and you’re listening to this, watching this just for fun, by the way. Great. We would love to see you be able to hire more people. And the people that come through our program, it’s not just for us, it’s for all of us. So we want to create jobs together based on clear, fair instructions that anyone who can qualify, anyone who can get these things done, doesn’t matter where in the planet doesn’t matter if there’s something.

It doesn’t matter if they’re broke, if you can get the job done, then we want to hire you. So I hope that is encouraging for you. And I hope that you can step ahead and be ahead of most of the people that make mistakes when they’re applying for a job, whether it’s with us or somebody else. So looking forward to seeing your progress, and if for some chance you don’t hear from us or you were declined because maybe you’re not ready.

We can always try again. We believe that people can always improve. Best thing is don’t make those mistakes in the first place. You want to accelerate your learning and invoice, avoid the pain that comes from making the kinds of mistakes that we’ve seen over the last 20 plus years in hiring. So go check it out and I can’t wait to see your progress along the way.

My friend.

Here are our hiring process and deboarding process.

In 2020, you need systems and processes to get the work off of you. That means you need a simple, hassle-free way to hire and fire people.

If you want more freedom, you need to DELEGATE the work– not HUSTLE harder.

And have repeatable processes that govern the work that your people are doing.

Want to know my secret weapon and a sneak peek into my focus with next year?

Watch closely what KeapFiverr, and Onlinejobs.ph are doing with us.

I posted two jobs for hiring 3 VA’s and got 285 applications in the last 24 hours.

Want to know the super-effective process for how we quickly and accurately narrowed the list down to just 15 and then down to the final group?

In short, we put a ton of detail in our postings, especially with article links and a codeword for them to use in the subject line of their initial response.

RABBIT is the one for our VA and SQUIRREL is for the designer.

Gmail sorts by threads and by subject lines, so they automatically group responses.
50% get knocked out instantly, but sometimes I’ll make exception (see canned note #1).

Of the initial cut, we look to see if they have personalized their response.
Another 50% of that gets knocked out.

Of the most promising remainder, we look at:
# Did they include a one minute video?
# How good is their English?
# How strong is their portfolio and profile?
# Do they have a cheerful, positive personality?

Maybe means no– so if not HECK YES, then NO, since there are so many amazing ones.

Then we provide one sentence of personalization, not just to show we care, but to ask them follow-up clarification questions. And then we paste in canned note #2, for more content to consume and another video to make.

Of the 5% that pass this filter (which is still 15 people out of 300), we are reasonably certain they would be great employees.

However, we want our internal people to screen them and pick 3-4 of the remainder to hire.

Of course, we don’t have to hire 3-4 people– we could do more or less based on the pool and our needs. Our needs have been growing for this type of support.

But generally, we should be able to get:
# one designer– to help out on guides, infographics, client proposals, skinned documents, personalized dollar bills, website tweaks, video effects, and technical stuff.
# 2 general VAs– to help with basic operational tasks: creating basecamp projects, assembling documents, transcribing videos, editing content, Excel work, and project management.

When we get strong, full-time folks that want to do this as a career, we don’t get the flakiness that we have designed for in the specialist program, since these internal folks must be stable and here for the long-run.

They’re also paid less– most are making $4-6/hour, which is good money, even for a college grad in the Philippines.

We’re basically doubling this, since we want the best– folks who don’t need micro-managing and can cover multiple positions.

Hiring VAs through Onlinejobs.ph

Logan Young, and John Jonas talk about why we use Onlinejobs.ph to hire VAs and new prospects, and why you should too.

John: Hey! This is John and Logan again. Up here on the roof of my house.


Logan: Beautiful scenery of Utah.


John: It’s wonderful.


Logan: Yeah. It’s, I mean I live in Arizona, it’s a desert, so a place all these mountains with cactuses and..


<< both laughing>>


John: So, I know that you have hired a bunch of VAs in the Philippines. I know you’ve hired some of them from onlinejobs.ph, which is my website, obviously. Tell me about your experience in using it. Is it positive? How many people are you finding? Are you getting a lot of applicants? What, How has it been?


Logan: It’s been great! Very positive. We’ve been super happy with the success we’ve had. And, you know, obviously, everything’s super organized, by like the tasks they’re able to do and what vertical they fit in to. 


So, for us, we’ve run them all through our process and we did a research and we have a full team of VA’s now working with us, all sourced from your site that we visit with them in person. They’re great, fantastic people, hard workers, loyal, everything you hope for. Right? So, for us, it’s been a good experience like beginning to end.


John: Sweet! So, when you guys use it, so there’s a couple of different ways like I will search resumes and contact people, how do you guys, do you guys post a job? What do you do?  What’s your job process?


Logan: We post jobs. We have 6 different roles we’re trying to fill such as we do a ton of videos, as you guys can see, so we’re looking for video editors; we’re looking for people who can manage — do operations; people who can do design because we have different guides and stuff. So, again we have 6 major roles that we are trying to fill. So, based off of those, we post, and then, from there we send them through our qualifying process and we’ve had pry over a thousand applicants but.


John: Through individual job posts?


Logan: Overall. Yeah. Because I mean, it’s like a funnel in marketing. Right? You cast them wide into the top and when you get to the bottom you know, like the cream of the crop, right,  the, let’s see another Latin phrase, the diamond in the rough.


John: Yeah yeah.


Logan: Yeah!


John: Yeah. So, you’ve had a thousand applicants and you guys have a filtering process that just brings in few and outcome the really good ones at the bottom.


Logan: Yeah. Yeah. So, along the way, you know we’re checking for things, we are preempting all the problems that we’ve seen. So, we’re pre-empting people that aren’t going to be strong in communicating, that aren’t as qualified maybe as the resume says for their skills, these different things. 


So, we’ll ask them to do these things in part of qualifying process. So, along the way people are just, you know, they’re not the right fit, and then, you get to the bottom. Then those people are the ones.

Yes, our agency hires young adults

Yes, our agency hires young adults.

People constantly question my reasoning behind this. Are these young people truly certified and mature enough to be doing this type of work for big clients and personal brands?

The way we ensure accountability and quality performance in our work is through the use of checklists and processes.

Our mission for years has been to bridge the gap between formal education and work experience.

We intentionally don’t define age limits, not because it would be illegal, but because “young” is a mindset for people able and willing to learn- to become certified digital marketers.

Though easily broad-brushed, – there is spectrum between teach-ability and maturity.   You’ll want to have a mix of folks to get the best of both worlds.

How many 50 year olds are pros at marketing on Snapchat and TikTok?

Yet, how many 22 year olds understand how to run operations in a 100+ person agency?

We have a mix not because we abide by the law, but because it’s good for business. That’s why we build teams that rely upon training and processes, so we all can keep learning.

It would be short-sighted and disrespectful to call task-based learning “cookie-cutter”- any more than you’d say a surgeon or airline pilot was mindlessly following cookie-cutter processes.

If you’re undergoing an operation at the hospital, perhaps you opt for the most creative surgeon- but I want the result, not the flair.

Our goal at BlitzMetrics is to arm these young adults with both the right knowledge and years of real world experience so that they too can lead effectively and deliver repeatable excellence in their work.

What legacy do you want to have on the next generation?

How to tell if they’re serious or not

Want a pro tip on how to tell if someone is going to be a go-getter, whether a student qualifying to be a specialist or a business qualifying to be a client?

Response time is key.

When there’s something simple to do– to forward a thread, perform a task that actually does only take a minute, or reply to a basic question, do they put it off?

Even though they may take a couple days to reply (doesn’t seem like much time, does it?), across many messages, this can add up to months.

Watching their ability to iterate also gives a chance to evaluate their understanding and organization.

Do they skip direct questions we ask them or specific tasks?

Are they able to pull out answers from the training we provide or Google simple things (what is CTR)?

What we’re not saying here is that people should be working nights and weekends.

Nor are we advocating that people reply to emails immediately, which creates noise from switching costs.

We want to know if they have a bias for action– which is rare.

Most people are comfortable and used to letting time pass on the clock because it’s not due yet, there’s no emergency, or any variety of reasons.

Our buddy, Michael Stelzner, founded Social Media Examiner and owns Social Media Marketing World.

He is the dominant player in social media publications and conferences– and told me nobody knows how he did this or even cares to ask him how he did it.

The answer is his screening process.

For example, people who apply to his company have a series of exercises to complete (as you’d imagine) that are due in one week. Anyone who waits to submit their materials in one week is immediately disqualified.

He is looking for folks who start right away, which means they get back something in the next day or so.

See how this is intentional and why we must learn to filter for the same reasons?

FancyHands and Uber do the same thing.

Remember: response time is key—  FH expects a task to done within 4 hours of accepting it, unless it’s more than 20 minutes work.

And Uber is even more strict, as you’d imagine.

Both networks require people to work on one task at a time to overcome switching costs, as we do.

But we’re more lenient, as we don’t monitor tasks and we allow up to 24 hours TAT (turn around time) to reply.

Managing and scaling operations is something few people understand or have experience with, but think they can give advice on. In the same way, I’ve flown over 4 million miles on airplanes, but I’m not qualified to pilot one.

If someone is slow at responding or can’t follow directions, you can expect them to consistently behave this way.

One of my favorite ways to screen candidates when I was at Yahoo! and American Airlines was to ask them about qualities they admired in friends and co-workers.  I was looking for examples of getting things done and being resourceful.

Asking about their friends is the cleanest read into what the candidate values.

Their ability to solve problems is important.

Being able to follow a script of rules is good but Jeremy Miller, Founder of Inspired Blue Media, talks about something more important than just being able to follow a script. He hires employees who have the ability to solve problems; not just follow a script.

“When working with clients, rarely do things always go the same. The majority of client work is problem-solving and diagnosing.

To determine a candidate’s ability to problem solve, you can start by asking them creative questions that have no absolute right or wrong answer. For example, you can ask “What are all the possible uses of a brick for our business?” and see how many different uses people can come up with.”

Are the people you’re working with being serious? What tips do you have to promote a positive bias for action? Let me know in the comments!