By Erica Calka
Whats different about a career in self-storage today? The position of facility manager has become one in which sales, marketing and customer-service experience is essential to business success.
Self-storage operators are just like any other employertheyre looking for people who will not only perform the job functions but be a positive representative with a can-do attitude and team-oriented spirit. They realize their managers are the face of the organization to the public, and the stores performance is only as good as its employees.
Impressing the recruiter is the first step toward embarking on a great career in self-storage. Here are some tips to present you as a top contender in this exciting industry.
Target the Decision-Maker
Networking is the best way to get your foot in the door with an organization. Joining social-media outlets such as LinkedIn or Facebook can introduce you to people within your targeted company. By showcasing yourself to them privately instead of blindly submitting your résumé into the sea of candidates will give you an edge.
Find out who the human-resources manager is and submit your cover letter and resume to him directly. If you know an owner or higher-level manager, these people can be instrumental in recommending you as a great candidate. Many times, it can be who you know and how you present yourself creatively that gets you to the next step.
Clean Resume = Neat Candidate
Lets face it: Your résumé is what paints your picture in the recruiters mind. You have only 20 seconds tops for your resume to do the trick. Spelling errors, unintelligible run-on sentences and experiences you dont really haveis that your best representation?
Proofread your résumé to ensure sentences are to the point and make sense. Always highlight your experiences to what the job requires. If a job posting asks for sales and marketing experience, be specific on those accomplishments. Write what percentage increase in sales you achieved on average per year, how many contracts you generated on average per month, what networking organizations you belong to, and marketing plans you developed to increase your business.
Do not to stretch the truth. Above all else, be honest and accurate in your résumé, and be sure you can back it up when it comes to the interview.
If you submit a cover letter, dont just change out the company name, position, etc. Personalize it. The recruiter typically sees the cover letter first. It should explain why he should hire you, but without rehashing the content of your résumé. Use your background to demonstrate why youre the best candidate for the job. If the cover letter is redundant, you just wasted five seconds of your 20 to impress.
Some companies do phone screenings before the interviews to filter out candidates. A facility managers job is partly conducted on the phone, and you have to be able to impress new and existing customers with your voice. Generally, the interviewers questions will be about your prior work history, why you left positions, and your strengths and weaknesses. Basically, they want to know why they should hire you.
Practicing interview questions with a friend or family member will make you more comfortable and able to avoid hesitation. Be upbeat and put a smile on your face. The interviewer will be able to hear it, guaranteed. Being pleasant on the phone can play a big part in your progression to the next stepthe coveted in-person interview.
When it comes to the interview, all the old-fashioned advice still holds true:
- Be on time
- Dress professionally
- Research the company and its competition
- Be ready with questions
All of these show the interviewer youre prepared and serious about the job and will be a great representative of the company. To set yourself apart from the other candidates, research the company and competitors around the facility to which youre applying. Make it a priority to learn about the differences between facilities and prepare some ideas for what you would do to increase leases, merchandise sales, etc.
When it comes to interviewer questions, remember honesty is the best policy, and focusing on your sales, customer service and marketing abilities are essential. Explain what you would do in the job, how you take initiative and how you stay organized. Ultimately, the interviewer wants to know how you will drive the business.
Give your answers with confidence and assertiveness and avoid using the phrase I dont know to buy yourself time to think about your answer. If you have to pause, a better response would be, Hmmm, thats a great question, or repeat the question to make sure you understand it. This will allow you to gather your thoughts without looking like youve been caught off-guard.
Prepare a list of questions to show youre engaged and want to learn more about the company. For example, ask what career-growth opportunities are available or the companys goals for the next five years. Thank the interviewer for his time, tell him your interest in the position, and always ask when you will hear back from him on the next step in the interview process.
Write a Thank-You Note
Send a thank-you note via snail mail. The fact that you took time to handwrite a note in this day of e-mail, texting and tweeting shows you care. Make sure the note card is professional and subduedleave the loud colors and artwork for friends and family. Express your interest again, and reference one or two of your key experiences to drive home that you are the right candidate for the job.
Candidates with sales and marketing backgrounds will do well in the self-storage industry. By creatively marketing yourself, having an impressive cover letter and résumé, being prepared for the interview, and showing your gratitude for the opportunity to learn more about the position, you will boost yourself through the ranks.
Erica Calka, is the human-resources manager for LifeStorage Centers LLC. She has more than 11 years of HR experience, emphasizing recruitment, employee-policy development, employee benefits and employment law. LifeStorage has 18 facilities throughout the Chicagoland area. For more information, visit www.lifestorage.net.