The Feedback You've Always Wanted on Why You didn't Get the Job

With Love, From Hiring Managers Who Care ❤️

The Feedback You've Always Wanted on Why You didn't Get the Job

With Love, From Hiring Managers Who Care ❤️

Job searching can be brutal!

The rejection, the confusion, feeling ignored, feeling unseen, the lingering back pain from hunching over your laptop writing all the resumes, cover letters, applications...

The goal of this project is to provide what support candidates kept (understandably) asking for: insights into why they didn't move forward in the hiring process and what they can do better next time.

We want to help everyone who applies, but it's tough to give individualized feedback when we receive hundreds of applications. So this is our way of providing the feedback that you've been asking for.

Who's we?

Seven customer support hiring managers at remote companies who have worked hard to build great cultures and teams:

That means that we hire differently than a typical corporate behemoth that's looking to find the first person who matches the skills and salary that works best for the company. Keep that in mind as you read through the feedback below.

Here's what you'll discover here:
  • What we'd like to see more of and less of from candidates.
  • The qualities and skills that our best support folks are swimming in.
  • How much it matters (if at all) to have previous remote experience, get a referral, or work with a recruiter.

Now, let's get to it.

"...why would you like to work remotely for THIS company?"

Hiring During a Little Thing Called a Global Pandemic

With the coronavirus pandemic affecting the whole world, many people have, unfortunately, lost their jobs. So it feels important to point out upfront that many companies are still hiring, including the majority of the awesome remote companies who participated in this project.

Nothing has changed in the way they're hiring during this time, so all the feedback below is still very much applicable when applying to support roles right now.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Do More of This:
Bring On The Passion 🔥

If you feel like you're hearing crickets from companies because you don't think you're standing out, this is for you.

In the survey, hiring managers answered:
What do you wish candidates / applicants would do more of?

Here's a breakdown of what they shared:

Alignment & Passion

The clear winners for what hiring managers want to see more of is alignment and passion. They want to know why you think you're a good fit for THIS role at THIS company. And they want to hear about the work that you're passionate about.

Show them in your application how you "actually align with what [they] are looking for" and that you have "experience or interest in either a similar space ([ex.] B2B SaaS) or at least a space of [their] users ([ex.] Marketers/Product/etc.)."

Here are some more insights on alignment and passion:

I love to talking to applicants who are truly passionate about helping people. Applicants that have experienced our customer support and aren't afraid to suggest improvements. Honestly, I love it when applicants show any form of passion. I want to know what motivates someone, day in, day out.
Demonstrat[e] a clear care or focus on the customer (or phrased differently - helping others by solving problems), and that being a key driver for job satisfaction. CS roles demand this, and sometimes it's not expressly shown by the candidate.
Align [your] CV and cover letter around WHY [you] would be good in our remote work environment - not [just] that [you] have an interest.
A clear depiction of what [you] do well. Do [you] like writing? Are [you] interested in technical troubleshooting? Shooting videos? etc. I like to hire people with unique skills and being able to show that in terms of how they write their resume is helpful.  
If you have a statement on your resume, make sure it actually relates to the role you are applying for.  
That is no joke! Too many summary statements on resumes say something like "Experienced marketing specialist with 3 years of experience in Google and Facebook ads. Interested in opportunities to grow skills in product marketing in the tech space." It's not a good look when you're applying for a support role.

Show Your Deeper Interest

If you're not researching a company before you apply for a job with them, you are killing your chances of getting the job. If you are doing research, keep in mind that research doesn't stop after you get an interview.

The point of a hiring process isn't just for a company to see if you're the right fit for them. It's also about you seeing if the company is right for you.

When you consider that this about you validating if the company and job are right for you, what kinds of questions would you ask? What's important to you in finding a job that you'll truly enjoy and where you can make an impact?

I really appreciate when candidates have done a lot of due diligence... This involves the candidates asking specific questions about company values, the support organization as a whole, or about each interviewer's background. Along with the questions, playing in company values or specific things about the product into application answers are always worthy of bonus points.
Make it clear that you understand what we do and why.
Some candidates have no idea what they'd be supporting & representing - And not all products, services, and customers are the same

But Wait, There's More

Here are a handful of other things to do and show during the hiring process:

  • Write clearly and articulately. Writing is critical on a remote team and for support roles where you're helping customers through email or chat.
  • Show that you're teachable and humble. Don't be defensive or feel that you have to seem like you know it all.
  • Tell stories to highlight your soft skills, values, and alignment. Talk about challenges you overcame, the ones you couldn't overcome, and get into some details.
  • Give thoughtful and personalized answers on technical tests or projects. Don't give the fastest response; write the one that shows you know how to provide an excellent customer experience.
  • "Be creative!" Instead of the standard application responses, cover letter, or resume, send something different like a personalized video.

"Even if you get turned down once or twice, keep pushing forward. You're bound to land a spot at some point!"

Do Less None of This:
Fixate on the Role Being Remote 🤐

If you want to know what mistakes to avoid to put a comfortable gap between you and the chopping block, grab your favorite caffeinated beverage (chilled, of course) and take some notes.

In the survey, hiring managers answered:
What do you wish candidates / applicants would stop doing?

Here's a breakdown of what they shared:

What Besides Remote?

If you make it seem like the main reason you want to work at a company is that the company is remote, you're not going to get the job.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to work remotely. Anyone who works at a good remote company can fully understand how life-changing remote work can be for lots of people.

However, many people want to work remotely, and there are more remote companies every day. So consider all the ways that a company feels like a great fit for you. Then share that on your applications and throughout the hiring process. This all ties back to the alignment and passion mentioned in the last section. It. Truly. Matters.

Otherwise, this is how you make hiring managers and their other teammates feel when they see that you only seem to care about finding a remote job:

Stop telling me that you want to work remotely so you can be a nomad. That isn't something that we really care too much about and makes us think you really just want a remote job and don't care much about the role itself. So, in short: focus more on why you want to work for our company and not why you want to work for a remote company.
One thing that can upset interviewers at times is when someone talks specifically about applying for the role because it's remote. There are more and more remote positions being posted every day - what makes this one different than any of the other ones? Being remote is great, don't get me wrong... but why would you like to work remotely for THIS company?

One More on Alignment

Don't apply for a role where your background "doesn't fit with the requirements."

There is a lot of information on the interwebs about applying for jobs you're 60% or 70% qualified for, and that's not bad advice.

Just make sure that if the job post has a "Requirements" section, you're meeting those with your skills, experience, and interests. It's okay if you're meeting those requirements with transferrable skills as long as you make that clear in your application. Connect the dots.

Watch Your Follow Ups

More and more job posts are starting to specify how long they are accepting applications for and when you can expect a response. So please keep that info in mind before following up.

If you don't see that info:

Give us at least 1-2 weeks to review your application before you ping us about it.

Also, a quick note on reaching out through LinkedIn:

"Don't DM me on LinkedIn trying to get an interview unless you are bringing some sort of value to the conversation beyond simply trying to get an interview."

Consider Your Growth Expectations

While you may not be interested in a long-term career in support, expecting to move off of support in a year isn't typically a reasonable expectation. Consider that support teams at these kinds of remote companies are not your typical customer service teams where turnover is high, and expectations are low.

Customer support is valued, respected, and the expectations for excellence are high. So if your goal is to move onto another team in the future, that's okay. Growth is definitely important. Just make sure you understand up front that you're signing up to spend at least a couple of years in support before moving onto a team outside of the support/customer-facing teams.

Support can be a great way to gain a birds eye view understanding of internal company processes, product knowledge and the customers we work with. However, I think Support can often times be seen as a "way in" or a foot in the door. While I can understand that CS may not be a long term growth path for some, outright sharing in the hiring process really short timelines/expectations for lateral movements can be frustrating.

Resume Tips

  • "Stop writing so much in your cover letter/resume - short and sweet is better. If a resume is longer than a page, I'm probably not reading it."
(Side note: People are putting human eyes on your resume at these companies. There's no ATS system you need to get through, so packing your resume with keywords isn't going to help you here.)
  • "Stop putting your photo on your application resume - that makes it difficult for us to remove bias."

Most Important ;)

"Don't be late for your interview :D"

"...think about the product they offer and if it's something you're willing to represent..."

Qualities & Skills

A huge part of the hiring process is to help hiring managers to understand what you do well and how you can add value to their teams. Of course, you're great at a lot of things, so you need to focus on highlighting the experience and skills that will make you successful in a remote support role.

If you've had lots of different types of roles in the past or you're not sure what skills to highlight during the hiring process, we've got you covered.

Quick note: Below are qualities and skills that would help anyone do a great job in a remote support role. However, there are other skills, not listed below, that could make you a wild success at a specific company. So be sure to research the company and role, and point out the value and qualities that would make you uniquely suited for that job at that company.

In the survey, hiring managers answered:
Think of the best folks on your support team. What makes you feel like they’re the best? How would you describe them?

Starting with the top three, below are the qualities and skills that hiring managers are ultimately looking for:

1
Great Communicator/Writer

"Can clearly articulate their proposed thoughts/ideas in writing."

2
Customer-Focused

"They're empathetic, team players, that value the customer over the self."

3
Self-Managed

"Has a high sense of ownership...and always striving for excellence (not perfection)."

Folks that are good communicators, written and verbally. You're not going to be in the company of other people throughout the day, so you have to learn how to write well.
Self starters, but humble enough to ask for help when needed. Dedicated to customers; they can't help but go above and beyond for a customer.
They're empathetic, team players, that value the customer over the self. We're all users of our products, so it's easy to say what you personally want to see improved or added, but these team members understand what's valuable for our users. They're true customer advocates.
They are rock stars, empathetic, they have a strong desire to teach others, they enjoy learning themselves, they know how to talk to different sets of customers (technical vs non tech).
Bias for action - They don't wait to be told what to do and/or how to do it. They take ownership of a challenge and see it through.
Folks that are driven and can effectively motivate themselves. There's no boss keeping a close eye as to what you're up to each day, and remote life offers a lot of freedom. Make sure you're hitting goals and have outcomes to point to at the end of a day.

Here's what else they appreciate about their star team members:

Folks that aren't afraid to go with the 80% sure rule - if you're 80% sure, trust your gut and move things forward. If you mess up, that's okay.
They see a problem and take ownership of finding a solution for it. They'll bring it up to the rest of the team, though ultimately they are the ones that feel responsible for finding/implementing a solution. And they don't stop until it's fixed.
Folks that aren't afraid to offer feedback to other people if they notice something that could be improved upon. On the same note, the same folks offering the feedback are willing and open to graciously receive feedback about themselves.
Radical candor - Willing to raise issues with people proactively.

How Helpful Is It To...

Have previous remote experience?

Many remote job seekers believe that remote companies only want to hire people who have previous remote work experience, and that's not at all the case. While some companies do explicitly mention that requirement in their job posts, it is not true for all companies.

Most of the companies surveyed for this project said, "Sure, remote experience is a bonus." But they are mainly looking for the qualities that make someone a good fit for remote work.

One hiring manager even responded that they don't assess for remote skills during the hiring process because they can always train for it later. So don't think that a lack of experience working remotely is holding you back.

Be referred or recommended by someone?

All but one of the hiring managers said that they had previously hired someone based on a recommendation. So it is worth connecting with people at the companies you want to work for (and there are plenty of ways to do it without the awkward networking).

That's not to say that everyone hired is recommended. Lots of people get hired without a recommendation or referral.

Work with a recruiter?

If you're looking for a support job at a larger remote company or one that's growing fast, then they might have recruiters on their team that help with support hiring. In that case, it could be worth connecting with those recruiters. (You can search for the company and "recruiter" in LinkedIn to find them.)

For the most part, the hiring managers surveyed don't use recruiters when hiring for their support teams. So don't invest too much time working with recruiters, specifically if they don't work internally for the company you're interested in.

"I love talking to applicants who are truly passionate about helping people."

We hope that all of the insights we shared here will help you to better understand what we're looking for and how you can increase your chances of landing a support job at remote companies that care.

We don't want to miss out on great candidates like you.

So show us your passion for helping people, why you're a great fit specifically for this role at this company, and (cliché, though everlastingly true) be yourself. Tell us about your interests, unique skills, and values. Those details help us to better get to know you and see how you can add value to our teams and culture.

"Ultimately, every company is always looking for people that are passionate about the success of their users. If you want to work for a company, think about the product they offer and if it's something you're willing to represent as well. Make sure it's a win for both you and the company."

Create your ✨🏆 stand-out 🏆✨ application for a remote support role at a worthy remote company.

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