With so many people out of work these days, many would happily try their hand at managing a self-storage facility, even though they may know nothing the job. But it can be daunting for employers to sift through all the inquiries, interviews, background checks and paperwork involved in hiring.
Although staffing is the most important aspect of the job for a management company or facility owner, finding the right person to fit the team can be overwhelming.
If you are looking for employment in self-storage, here are some tips to get you noticed and start off on the right foot with a potential employer.
It’s not unusual for employers to get hundreds of résumés and inquires for one job opening. Your résumé needs to catch their attention immediately. Write your cover letter or e-mail so that, as screeners wade through the applications, yours gets pulled and examined closer.
On the initial pass, employers are looking for a reason to eliminate each candidate rather than keep him. They want to narrow the number of people who are qualified, serious and meet the job criteria. In most cases, it takes the computer longer to open the résumé document than it does the employer to scan it and decide whether to look closer. Your résumé needs to catch his attention quickly.
If the employment ad reads “Please send résumé,” then attach one. Employers are not going to respond to a request for more information about the job. An inquiry without a résumé is the first indication that an individual doesn’t take direction well. Why should a busy employer waste his time? If you’re truly interested in more information, send a résumé that tells an employer why you should get a call.
In self-storage, the goal of answering the phone is to get the prospect to visit the facility. When sending a résumé, the goal is toget the potential employer to call you! Your résumé will do that for you. In one brief look, an employer will determine how well you present yourself.
Are you meticulous or sloppy? A hand-written résumé will not fly in a computer-run world. This says you’re not technically efficient. Do your writing skills appear to be at the level needed for the job? Spelling, grammar and punctuation all count.
While employers appreciate the brevity, if you send a résumé that looks like a text message, you won’t get a call. Are you detail-oriented? Specific dates of employment for your previous positions are important.
If you’re too lazy to do a good job on your résumé, you won’t make the cut. Your résumé is your first chance to make a good impression.
Is Your Objective Their Objective?
If the opening of your résumé states you want a rewarding career in healthcare, computer-software design or interior decorating, you probably will not get a call. Unless your objective matches the job offered, don’t bother to respond. Blasting out résumés to every ad posted might get you a job somewhere in the short term, but not in self-storage.
If you’re serious about getting a job, take the time to get the right job. Customize your résumé for it. Make an effort to get noticed. Target your search to jobs in which you’re interested, where your skills can be used to their fullest. Maybe your background isn’t a perfect match, but if you can explain how these skills are just what a self-storage operator needs, that might get you into the short pile.
Is There Stuff to Your Fluff?
If you’ve let someone else write your résumé, it will be very apparent to the employer soon enough. Your résumé should reflect who you are, not the impressions of your best friend, spouse or anyone else. If you don’t live up to what you’ve represented on your résumé, you might get the job, but you won’t keep it.
Expect that you will get a call or interview and prepare for the questions that could be asked. If you have self-storage experience, be prepared to talk about occupancies, delinquencies, insurance and merchandise sales. Know your numbers. “How many units did your property have?” is not a trick question. Show the employer how your experience will be translated to this particular position.
Be prepared to provide examples of how your input brought value to your former employer. Also be prepared to explain why you left a job and what you’ve been doing with your time since. “Just looking for a job” is not a good answer. If you have time in between jobs, make sure you’re using it wisely. Learn a skill or hobby, take a class, volunteer, etc. Do something that shows you’ve filled the gap in a way that is meaningful to you personally or professionally.
Differentiate Yourself With Specifics
Maybe you’re a “people person.” So is everyone else. And they’re quick learners, too. You need to bring more to the table. What are the skills and responsibilities you’ve learned from being trained on someone else’s dime? Be clear about your specific job duties at past positions. Show how these skills and training led to results.
General candidate traits don’t vary much from résumé to résumé. Characteristics such as “highly self-motivated,” “team player” and the usual buzz words regularly appear and don’t really tell the employer anything about you. “Interfaced with clients” also doesn’t say much. Tell the employer specifics, such as you “increased sales 18 percent by greeting, building rapport and fulfilling needs.” That will get you into the short pile!
Sweetie, I Just Need a Job!
An employer is looking to fill a position quickly, with the least amount of time and expense. As a candidate, you’ll have more success when you disclose what you can do for him and not the other way around. Times are tough and you may have a family to feed, but the best way to get a job is to get the right job. Otherwise, you’ll be looking again in three months.
The fact that you need a job doesn’t fill any of the employer’s needs. He is wasting his time and effort unless you want the job that’s open. “Why do you want a job in self-storage?” is one of the first questions an industry employer will ask. If you don’t know, he doesn’t either. Don’t apply for a job in which you have no genuine interest.
Also beware the question, “What questions do you have for me?” This is a trick. If, given the opportunity to speak freely, your first question is about pay, benefits, bonuses or the onsite apartment, you’ve just blown it. How you respond to this question tells an employer much more about you than you think. This alone can determine if you move on to the final round—the really short pile.
It’s All Sales
If you’re looking for employment, use your résumé as a tool to get in front of the prospective employer.Don’t take it lightly. Take the time now to present yourself well so you can answer the question, “Why should I hire you?”
Linnea Appleby is the president of PDQ Management Solutions Inc., a Sarasota, Fla.-based company specializing in the management of self-storage properties and offering complimentary services such as operational consulting, new facility startup, property audits and the “Income Finder Service.” Ms. Appleby is a regular contributor to industry trade publications and a frequent speaker at tradeshows and events. For more information, call 941.377.3451; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.pdqmanagementsolutions.com.