Zen and the art of job applications

It’s not often we recruit at Quantum Web Cafe, but it does seem we are recruiting for aaaagggeeesss sometimes. We do take our time, that’s for sure. And for good reason. First, most people struggle to follow the application process and rule themselves out at the first hurdle, and second, well, to be frank, we’re a bit fussy about who we let loose on our customers.

We’ve been around now for twenty years and, at our peak, with several high street locations, we had 23 employees. If you do the maths, we’ve hired over two hundred people over those two decades. I still find that fact amazing, especially when you consider that I’ve personally interviewed almost every single one. And then, of course, there’s usually three or four interviews of people who we don’t end up hiring, or, for one reason or another, change their minds and decide they don’t want to work for us. It is, after all, a two way street and both employee and employer have got to enter the arrangement happily or it won’t work out at all well. I know this from experience!

There are hundreds of stories I could regale you with about employees, CVs and interviews. Some are bizarre, some are incredible, some defy belief, but they are all true.

There’s the lady who fought off stiff competition for a full time role, invested hours of trial shifts and training and then simply disappeared never to be heard of again. There’s the ‘I’ll be there for interview at x o’clock’ crew who simply don’t turn up and then turn their phones off, usually after I’ve had to drive in from far off place at great inconvenience to myself. There’s the ones who bombard you with CVs and letters stating that they’ll do ANYTHING to work in the cafe. Except return a phone call, that is. There’s the guy who got through all the checks and started working for us, only for us to discover within a few days he was an expert con man wanted by the police for pulling long, complex scams on unsuspecting pub landlords around the country, a crime he later went down for for some considerable time. And the guy who came in assuring me that he was to work there because he had been ‘sent by God’ to do so. And many, many more.

But you know what? Despite all the frustration and lost time and wasted effort that comes with the territory of recruiting, it’s worth it when you find your great guys. When you find your Zsolts, Alexs, Trevas, Tims, Pacos, Pedros or Ewelinas, Gregs, Jamies, Megans or Alanas. The ones who make a difference, the ones you bend over backwards to look after. The ones we hold out for. And, to this day, despite all those same things I mention above, I still – genuinely – believe that most people have the ability to do really, REALLY well in our employ given half a chance, either by us, or more usually, by themselves.

So, if you’re reading this because you’re thinking of working with us, here’s a few pointers, a few ‘inside track’ gems of information, if you will. If you take them on board, it’ll make all the difference …

First, follow the application process. It may sound simple, but you’d be astonished to learn that around 90% of all applicants don’t bother! That’s an incredible 9 out of 10 applicants don’t read the instructions or can’t be bothered to follow them. It doesn’t matter if you have the best CV in the world and you’re the best employee you previous employer has ever seen because we’ll never know that if you don’t follow the process to the letter. Why? Because they are all, without exception, deleted immediately and lost forever. Yup, we really do that. Even just following the application process, therefore, gives you an advantage over 90% of your fellow applicants.

Second, if you are one of the 10% who makes the effort and includes the obligatory cover letter, make it interesting, make it personal, make it relevant. I promise you, we read them all. In great detail. We know which letters have taken time (and which ones are standard and sent out en masse!), we appreciate effort made and it’s always rewarded, usually with an invite to interview.

Third, check your CV. I am amazed how many CVs I am sent in ‘text speak’ using terms such as ‘Went travelling cuz had year out, LOL’ or ‘U SHD get my CV soon’. A CV is a formal application document, text speak is not appropriate. Nor is bad language, some will be surprised to learn. These are always deleted too. Check your spelling, punctuation and get someone else to proof read it. One of my all time favourite CVs to date has to be the guy who was selling himself on his ‘attention to detail’, although he had apparently failed to notice that he’d spelt his own name wrong on the CV, accidentally copied the same line of the CV twice and put the name of another employer he was sending it to at the top. Also deleted.

Fourth, answer the phone! If you’re job hunting and your phone rings with a local number you don’t know, chances are it’s a potential employer wanting to have a chat. I understand that for some, possibly even most, people, screening calls is common these days, but if you’re going to do that make sure you have credit to call back! I’ve lost count of the number of times that it’s taken someone a couple of days to call me back because they screened the call and then realized they had no credit. By then we’ve often moved on and the chance is lost.

Finally, if you change your mind about working for us (and you are absolutely entitled to), let us know before the interview. Drop us a line, leave us a message, don’t just not turn up for an interview and turn your phone off, it’s not the done thing. Especially if you then re-apply a few months later thinking we may have forgotten. We don’t forget. (yes, that has happened too!)

The funny thing is, we’re really laid back as a team and as a company. We are, after all, in hospitality and we’re passionate about giving great service and helping people out. It’s what our reputation is built on, and we love our team members to get on, become friends, have some banter between them, and so on. There’s no question the people who do well with us stay a long time, have a great experience and are well rewarded.

All of which explains why we’re so strict on the application process, even if we’re very laid back about actually working there. For us, it’s like finding a new family member. It’s about making sure you’re going to get what you need from us while you work for us. It’s about making sure you’re looking after our customers and fellow team members. And above all, it’s about having fun while you work – the best possible combination there is. And yes, it can be done!

If you’re interested in working with us, click here to see if there are any vacancies currently available at Quantum Web Cafe.



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