The self-storage job market has never been more competitive and those seeking positions need to be prepared. Whether you’re new to the industry or looking to change roles or companies, follow the below advice to ensure you’re an employer’s top candidate.
Every month I review dozens of résumés from people seeking self-storage management positions. Some are impressive at first glance, while others look as if a child wrote them. Not everyone knows how to prepare a professional-looking résumé. For those who don’t, an Internet search will yield numerous templates. There are also third-party companies that can prepare a quality résumé for a small fee. Keep in mind, you only have 15 to 20 seconds to make that first impression, so give it your best shot!
First you need to choose a style for your résumé: chronological or functional. Chronological is the most common. It lists your job titles and places of employment, along with dates, beginning with the current position first. These are usually listed on the left side of the page, with the job duties on the right. When listing duties, you don’t need to specify each one. Rather, include bullet points of your achievements such as “increased annual income by X amount,” “reduced delinquency by X amount,” “increased occupancy levels by X amount” and so on. Just keep it simple.
The functional style is used when a person has either an abundance of similar experience or a lack of it. It can better the chance of a candidate whose experience may look weaker on a chronological résumé. It can also be useful for those amid a career change, such as when applying for a district-manager position from facility-manager spot. Again, list your achievements so the company sees your skills and mindset.
Whichever style you choose, include your name, address, phone number (including area code) and e-mail address centered at the top of the first page. These should be in a 14- or 16-point, easy-to-read font. Don’t use script, fancy lettering or borders. You’re trying to be professional. Here are a few other tips:
- Make sure the margins are correct, bullet points are in the right place and everything looks professional.
- If you’re sending a hard copy, use quality paper, but nothing with marble or a heavy texture.
- It’s important to know your audience. Use the language of the self-storage industry.
- Use active words: achieved, expedited, managed, ability, capacity, leader, actively, substantially and effectively. Keep it positive.
- Finally, read your résumé several times and even have someone else proof it. While you should definitely use your spell-checker, be aware of homophones. There’s a difference between there, they’re and their. Your spell-checker won’t tell you if these words are being used incorrectly.
The Cover Letter
Your cover letter is your introduction. It should highlight information about you that isn’t in the résumé. For example, you might include a sentence or two explaining why you’re looking for a change.
Be honest about why you’re seeking new employment, especially if you were at a position for less than six months. If you left a position because of a clash in personalities, say it was due to “personal reasons.” Always be prepared to explain why you left a job or desire a new position; just don’t dwell on the negative. Be positive. For example, you might say it was better that you left and found a position better suited to you.
When submitting your résumé, include a current list of reference. Ask anyone you might consider for this list in advance if it’s OK to include them. When possible, obtain letters of reference from employers before leaving a position.
Your references should be business acquaintances such as former employers or supervisors. No one wants to speak past tenants who’ll say how great it was to store their belongings with you. Family, friends and other storage managers don’t count as references, either. Potential employers need to know what kind of employee you are!
A potential employer liked what he saw in your submitted package and reached out for an interview. Great! Make sure you’re ready. Just as with a résumé, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Whether you communicate with the company on the phone, via e-mail or in person, if you come off as disinterested, distracted or unprofessional, you’ll never advance to the next step in the process.
On interview day, show up early, dress professionally and have a copy of your cover letter, résumé, references, etc. Be prepared to discuss your work experience and skills. Explain your achievements and your objective in seeking a change in employment. Put your best foot forward and be positive!
Also, consider what questions you might ask your interviewer. You want to get to know the company as much as he wants to learn about you. Here are a few questions you might as a self-storage employer.
- What are the work hours?
- Is this a resident position? If so, what’s the housing situation?
- What’s the compensation?
- Is there a bonus program?
- Does the facility have relief staff?
- Why did the last manager leave and how long was he with the company?
- How many facilities does the company operate?
- What’s the facility’s occupancy level?
- What’s the company culture like?
- What software and technology does the company use?
- Are there any opportunities for advancement within the company?
At the end of the interview, if you’re still interested in the position, say so! Ask what comes next. Then, follow up with a phone call or e-mail at a minimum. A handwritten thank-you note makes a great impression and could set you apart from other applicants. If you aren’t ultimately chosen for the position, ask the employer to keep your résumé on file for the next opportunity.
Persistence Is Key
Finding a suitable position in the self-storage industry won’t always come easy. It takes research and preparation. Have a professional résumé. Include a cover letter and valid references. Include any certificates you’ve earned by attending seminars or training. If you get to the interview stage, be professional, honest, courteous and positive. Express your interest and ask questions.
After all this, you might not always get the job, even if you thought the interview went well. Don’t be discouraged. Keep trying. When the right job comes along, you’ll get hired!
Pamela Alton is the owner of Mini-Management Services, which has been placing self-storage managers in positions all over the United States since 1991. She also offers staff training, operational consulting, facility audits, due diligence inspections and joint ventures. For more information, call 844-646-4648; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.mini-management.com.