When you have a job opening at your self-storage facility, you might have interest from dozens of applicants. Learning to expertly screen their cover letters and résumés can help you zero in on the most qualified candidates efficiently. Find out how to make this time-consuming process more productive and, ultimately, successful.

Mohala Johnson, Director of Web Technology

February 28, 2024

5 Min Read

When it comes to making the right hires for your self-storage operation, you need a plan. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming to juggle all the communication involved. There will be letters, emails, phone calls, interviews, missed appointments and some frustration.

One of the first steps in your process is to set the requirements for your job applicants. While every candidate should complete an application, you should also request a cover letter and résumé. You may be asking, do I really need both? Yes, and here’s why.

A résumé provides a brief overview of a candidate’s skills and experience, while the cover letter allows them to go into more detail about their qualifications and how they may be best suited to the position. Requiring a cover letter is also a great way to reduce the number of irrelevant applications you receive, as individuals who aren’t serious about a job won’t go through the added work of creating one.

When you request a cover letter, you’re essentially telling candidates that you’re looking for a long-term hire, not simply someone to fill a gap until something better comes along. When paired with a résumé, the letter creates a fuller image of the applicant and helps you determine if they have the qualifications to suit your company’s needs.

Combined, these two critical documents give you a better understanding of an applicant’s skillset, experience and professionalism. They’re a way for candidates to sell themselves and their expertise as well as showcase their writing and communication skills. That said, how to you effectively sort through them all to narrow the field to the best ones? Following are some guidelines to make the process more productive and, ultimately, successful.

Know What You Want

Depending on your location and the position available, you might get dozens or even hundreds of responses to your self-storage job post. It’s a lot of paperwork, and wading through it all can be tedious. This is why it’s beneficial to know how to screen it quickly.

With résumés and cover letters, you’re primarily looking to see whether the candidate is qualified for the position. You want to successfully narrow the pool of applicants. But before you can do that, you need to make sure you (or the person responsible for hiring) is clear about the job requirements. Understand all the duties of the position you’re filling as well as the desired skillset and experience candidates must possess. This’ll help you develop effective screening criteria, so you can quickly identify the applicants that should move to the next phase.

For example, if a candidate is seeking remote work but you’re looking for an employee who’ll be at the property 40 hours a week, you can quickly rule them out. If you’re looking for potential hires with specific experience, and they don’t have it, you can easily eliminate them.

More Screening Tips

Evaluate their competence. Cover letters and résumés should be professional. Typos, grammatical errors, poor word choice or sentence structure, and missing dates indicate the person didn’t invest much time or effort in their work. Even the font they choose and how they organize the information is worth noting! If they can’t be bothered to put forth their best effort here, they likely won’t do it as an employee of your company.

Look for keywords. This is a good way to quickly identify applicants who have the skills and experience you seek. You might watch for phrases such as “self-storage management experience,” “customer-service skills” and “industry training.” Also, look at their previous employers. Have they worked in the industry before? Perhaps they’ve been employed in another service occupation from which the skills will be transferable.

Consider the whole picture. Take the time to read the entire résumé and get a sense of the candidate's skills, experience and fit for the position. Also, look at their work history. Do they have a habit of moving from one company to another every six months? Are there gaps in employment? Do they have any training, education or special skills that could make them an asset to your storage company?

Don't be too rigid. It’s important to be flexible when screening these documents. Not all candidates will have the exact abilities and experience to fill your position; however, they could still have expertise that would be relevant to the job. For example, they might not be proficient in the management software your facility uses but could have solid sales skills.

Check references. This is a critical step. Nearly everyone can look great on paper, but you need to verify the facts. Keep in mind there are legal guidelines on what former and current employers can tell you about an applicant, but talking to professional references can help you get a better picture of their work ethic, strengths and weaknesses.

By following these tips, you can improve your candidate-screening process and avoid wasting time on applicants who aren’t a good fit for your self-storage operation. Spending sufficient time and being smart about cover letters and résumés will ultimately help you identify your next great employee.

Mohala Johnson is the director of Web technology for Tellus Development Ltd., a real estate and development firm that operates more than 30 self-storage facilities in the Southeast. With more than 10 years of management and customer-service experience, she handles the company’s digital and print marketing. Writing has always been a passion of hers, and she’s excited to share her knowledge with the self-storage industry. Connect with her @MohalaJohnson on X or www.linkedin.com/in/mohalajohnson.

About the Author(s)

Mohala Johnson

Director of Web Technology, Tellus Development LTD

Mohala Johnson is the director of Web technology for Tellus Development LTD, a real estate and development firm that operates more than 30 facilities in the Southeast United States. With more than 10 years management and customer-service experience, she handles the company’s digital and print marketing. Writing has always been a passion of hers and she is excited to share her knowledge with the self-storage industry. Connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mohalajohnson. For more information, visit www.tellusltd.com.

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