How to Get Hired at Rocket Media (or Pretty Much Anywhere Awesome)

Ben Kalkman posted this in
Inside Rocket Media
on May 21st, 2014

There are many other blogs out there telling you the “best practices” for resumes, cover letters and getting hired. This isn’t one of them.

In fact, I feel pretty unqualified to write this. I’m 26. I’ve only been at Rocket Media a little over 2 years. I’m not an HR manager.

Yet, I find myself in the position of reviewing dozens of applications and I’m starting to get a little depressed. Where are the good applicants?! So rather than roll my eyes and do nothing, I decided to write this quick blog on a few things you could do on your resume and cover letter that might actually get you a call from me.

KISS (keep it short, stupid)

One of the tenants of Content Strategy (and good UX as a whole) is empathy. That is, putting yourself in the shoes of your audience/user. This alone could solve many of the problems on application – think about who’s going to be reading them!

I just looked at 58 applications today. You can bet I didn’t read many of them top to bottom. So it’s important that you write succinctly and clearly, especially in the cover letter. Long, rambling cover letters are even more frustrating when you’re applying for a social media and content job (140 characters, anyone?).

Tell me why I should pay attention to your resume and do it quickly or your resume goes to the bottom of the pile.

How about telling me why you want the job

This problem is equally frustrating. Especially if you’re out of state. Are you moving here anyway? Are you willing to relocate or hoping this is a remote job? Did you even realize that this job took place in the beautiful (but occasionally hot) Arizona desert?

Also, if you have a job now, why are you looking for a new one? This is especially relevant if the job you have now sounds exactly like the one we’re offering.

You don’t have to give me the dirty details of a bad boss. But at least tell me that you like what you are doing and are just looking for a new environment. Otherwise, I might assume you’re sick of what you’re doing at your current job and so would tire quickly of another job with the same tasks/requirements.

Format your resume. Please.

The whole “apply via LinkedIn” thing sounds awesome, right? You can apply for a bunch of jobs easily and quickly. Well guess what, many of those applications come through as giant, unreadable blobs of text.

I’d recommend formatting your resume yourself. We’re not looking for a masterpiece (unless you’re applying for a design position, in which case you better step up that resume even more), we just want to be able to read it.

Tread carefully with irrelevant information

There’s a fine line between fun factoids about yourself that add personality and those that make me think, “why would anyone put that information on their resume?”

Here are two good examples:

“Equally as talented in the content I create as I am in Mariokart.” This one is relevant to Rocket Media because it shows he did his research. (We talk about Mariokart on our careers page.)

“I could single-handedly double the cans of soda consumed monthly at Rocket Media, and I’d love to prove it to you.” This made me laugh out loud (and become concerned for the applicant’s health). Again, this shows he did some research (careers page, again) and is actually interested in our company.

Things like this can help you stand out from other qualified applicants, but they can also hurt your chances if you reveal a little too much.

For example, a couple of applicants noted they also had experience with graphic design. That could be an asset. Except the portfolios were awful or outdated (often both). That doesn’t help you get a job at a design agency, even if you’re not applying for a design job. You might be better off simply omitting that info.

Stop droning on about past jobs

Don’t give me a list of responsibilities you had at past jobs if the responsibilities are irrelevant. I don’t care if you “Successfully dealt with an extensive list of over 200 menu items and meal combinations” while at the Cheesecake Factory. Tell me how that applies to the job you want with us.

You don’t have much time to capture my attention, so don’t waste space in an effort to fill out the page.

Don’t be boring

I can’t tell you how many applicants I passed on because their cover letter sounded like boilerplate garbage. This is your first impression (and you know what they say about those).

Don’t use big words to try to impress me, either. Writing is a form of communication and, as such, should be clear. Here are some things to avoid because everyone else says them.

  • “I am enclosing my resume for you to review.” Really? I thought you maybe just sent me a cover letter.
  • “Please consider this letter as my formal application presenting my background, education and experience.” Oh good. I thought this might be an informal application…
  • “I am the perfect candidate for this position considering my experience.” You and everyone else. Show me, don’t tell me.

I could go on and on… You have precious few seconds in front of people making the hiring decision – Don’t waste it. Here’s an example that stopped me in my tracks and made me read more.

“I don’t know everything.

Many people think they do know everything. Those people are pains and no one wants to work with them. I, however, am not a pain. Easygoing and malleable, I yearn to receive all of your advertising wisdom.”

She might have gone a little toward the patronizing side at the end, but that first sentence sure caught my attention.

*Steps off of soapbox*

I’m genuinely grateful so many people want to work at Rocket Media with me. And it’s really difficult for me to read resumes and cover letters of people who sound awesome and know that I’ll only get to choose one. But it’s even harder to get through the ones that are awful. So hopefully this will help you land an awesome job (even if it wasn’t with Rocket Media this time.)

Warning: Take this all with a grain of salt. This is my opinion. And I’m only one dude. Different people have been known to have different opinions from time to time. But I’d be surprised if too many people involved in the hiring process would disagree with me on many of these.

Ben Kalkman


Ben Kalkman is the CEO, founder and owner of Rocket Media. When he has down time from running a successful company, being the father to 6 kids, running half marathons and purchasing every new Apple product that comes to market… eh who are we kidding, Ben has no down time.