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Asking questions

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Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward
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Asking questions

Postby F.E. » Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:14 pm

Hello everyone,

I would like to contact the person listed on a job advertisement to introduce myself and ask some questions about the position. After taking a couple of days to write the e-mail, I wondered if contacting this person was good idea or not. What do you think? If you think it is acceptable to send a message to this person, what types of questions or information about myself would I avoid? I want to make sure that the e-mail does not contain things that are considered to be unprofessional (e.g., is it unprofessional to include a brief description of my experience relative to the requested experience in the job advertisement.

Thank you,
F.E.
F.E.
 
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Re: Asking questions

Postby PG » Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:37 pm

As long as the questions are real I think that it is a good idea. I am on the receiving end of this type of questions and dont like when it is obvious that people have invented questions as an excuse to make contact and introduce themselves (with the hope that this will increase their chances of being selected for an interview).

On the other hand if they have real questions about something ie either the position or the company we are always happy to answer them. If possible I would recomend a telephone cantact rather than an e-mail. You can give some detail about yourself but keep it short and dont give your entire CV. Remember to keep it relevant for the questions you have.
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Re: Asking questions

Postby Ana » Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:54 pm

Hi F.E.,

I recommend you not to include a description of yourself and a list of questions in that e-mail. Instead, use the e-mail to say you are interested in the position and would like to ask some questions, and then ask who would be the best person to contact for this.

That might get you to the hiring manager, as opposed to the HR/adminsitrator that is handling the advertising, and it will give the other person the opportunity to tell you if s/he prefers a call. Even better than that, it will allow you to refer to that conversation when you apply to the position (Dear X, it was a pleasure talking to you last week. As discussed....")
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Re: Asking questions

Postby Rich Lemert » Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:35 pm

I'm with PG on this - call! Make sure your questions are sincere, though. As he says, questions designed just to get you noticed are more likely to annoy the hiring manager than they are to impress them.

If you decide you still want to apply after getting your questions answered, you can always mention your call in your cover letter. If you decide you don't want to apply, you can mention that during the call. ("I see. Unfortunately at this time I see my career going in a different direction. I appreciate your time, though.")

As far as telling the hiring manager about yourself, I'd have my "elevator speach" ready to go, but I'd wait for him to ask for it. Keep your focus on your questions until you're invited to do otherwise. ("My name is ____, and I'm considering applying for the position you have advertised in xxxxx. My I ask you some questions about that position?")
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Re: Asking questions

Postby F.E. » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:57 am

Thank you for the advice Rich, Ana, and PG. Based on what you have written, I am slightly concerned that one of my original three questions might be a problem. I had planned to ask the contact person whether my experience was applicable to the position. They are looking for experience with X, but I have experience with Y. However, Y is closely related to X. Should I not ask this type of question? Thank you again for your helpful advice.

Regards,
F.E.
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Re: Asking questions

Postby Rich Lemert » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:41 am

I don't think this question is a problem. I wouldn't phrase as "I have a background in Y - is that going to be acceptable?", though. I'd say something like "do you see any problems in this position for someone with a background in Y?" Sure, it's transparent, but "we must keep up appearances" [said in a proper British accent ;-} ].
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