Saturday, October 16, 2010

Work related

As a general rule, I try to avoid talking too much about work on my blog. No matter what job I'm currently working, I'm always very aware that anything I put online is forever, and visible to everyone; I have no expectation of privacy, even on allegedly private sites (which this is of course not). This is also my personal blog, on which I discuss personal issues, so it doesn't feel appropriate.

Nevertheless, I have been writing this article in my head all morning as I worked, and it needs to come out somewhere - and isn't that the point of a personal blog? My boss and I have discussed the possibility of starting a separate site or blog to deal with these sorts of issues, but nothing has come of it yet, so I'm writing about it here. Needless to say, these are my opinions and observations only, and are not necessarily those of anyone I work with.

I spend some part of nearly every day reviewing applications for various jobs with the company. Sometimes I'm even considering if the applicant might fit for a different job that we haven't advertised. On a light day, I might read 10 or 15 applications; more often, I'm reading at least 30 or more. On a busy day, I could have over 100 to get through. At the moment, we have two job ads out, so my days are tending toward the busy end.

Reading so many applications so regularly, there are a few points that pop out at me over and over. I think these points are a little more obvious now, since I'm looking at two different types of applications. These are the main things that I always wish that I could tell applicants:

1. Read the instructions. I cannot emphasize this enough. You may be a good fit for the job, but if you don't follow the instructions, it tells me that either you do not pay attention to the details, or you don't think those rules apply to you. I'm probably not interested in working with either type of person.

As an example, I currently have a mailbox full of resumes for one particular job. Of those, nearly 30% have attachments. The ad for this job specifically states "Attachments will not be opened." I do choose to open these attachments because I feel like it's not worth the possibility of missing a great applicant for only this reason, but it's already a strike against everyone who does it.

2. If you are applying by email (rather than, for example, and online form), put your full name and email address clearly in the body of your message, preferably near the top. You want both of these pieces of information to be clear and easy for the reviewer to find. I've read applications with only a first name included. I've gotten applications with no email address, and thus no way to respond to the writer even if I wanted to (I get applications by several methods, some of which don't include a real "from" address).

3. Know who you are applying to.
  • It's always a good idea to tailor your application to the company. Emphasize those elements of your experience that are relevant to the job.
  • Make sure you use the correct company name in your cover letter and resume. I've gotten more than one resume that has as its objective how much the applicant wants to work for some company other than ours.
  • If you do include an objective on your resume, make sure it's relevant to the job you are applying to.
  • Know who the parent company is, if the business you are applying with has one. It is entirely possible that the same person will be looking at applications for jobs in various parts or subsidies of the company, so if you don't follow through on one job application, chances are you won't be a strong contender for a different job.
4. Be polite. Sending an angry response to a rejection might make you feel better in the moment, but it can only hurt you in the long term. Everybody gets rejected, and chances are you'll never know the details of why you were not picked. If another job opens up, your response will guarantee you aren't considered again.

I know that there are probably dozens of other points I can - and maybe will - make, but that's what's on my mind today.


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