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Fairy Tale for the Job Seeker

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Fairy Tale for the Job Seeker

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun Nov 14, 2004 8:14 pm

Once upon a time, there were two interesting resumes which both wanted to attract the attention of Nancy Smith, Assistant Hiring Manager at ABC Biotech. The first resume, a handsome two-pager in a gray envelope, said to the other, ?I?m going to puff myself up real big and strong, and make it impossible for Nancy to miss me in that large stack.? The second resume thought that this kind of behavior was inappropriate, but was too polite to say anything. She thought about her response, and then with a determined look, said ?I?m going to cover myself with a short, powerful letter to Nancy so that she gets interested before she picks me up.? The first resume laughed, and said in his most sarcastic tone, "What a silly little thing you are to think that a simple cover letter could make that kind of a difference. You're just a skinny, unattractive CV in a plain envelope. In fact, you won't even get a second look."

That morning, as the Assistant Hiring Manager worked her way through the daily mail she noticed that first resume which stuck out from the pile in its gray pinstripe envelope. She opened it and started to skim down the first page. ?Gee, this resume has a lot of style and format, but not much content,? she thought. The cover letter was of the mass-produced variety, sent "to whom it may concern," simply restating the obvious education and credentials. Nancy set it aside with the others for filing, after spending only a moment or two on it. She continued opening the mail and a few others were skimmed in the same brief manner, some without a cover letter entirely. She stopped, however, when she came to that little CV which included a letter personally addressed to her. ?What an interesting package. This one hit the nail on the head. The cover letter describes our problem exactly, and then points out some accomplishments to look for in the CV. I?m going to read further on this one,? she thought.

The little CV beamed, knowing that once an Assistant Hiring Manager gets hooked, the story would certainly end happily ever after . . .


Posted in Fun, by Dave
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Fairy Tale for the Job Seeker

Postby Val » Mon Nov 15, 2004 12:05 am

Dave,

Yeah, there are useful moments in your posting for me a potential future jobseeker. Let me share my doubts about some of your assumptions...

> ...she noticed that first resume which stuck out
> from the pile in its gray pinstripe envelope.

When I did a job search a year ago, I sent out 100% of my applications for scientific and engineering jobs in electronic form. No posted paper applications. This has became a standard nowdays.

> Assistant Hiring Manager ... stopped, however,
> when she came to that little CV which included
> a letter personally addressed to her...

Hm... I s'ppose everyone knows nowdays that the personally addressed letter gets the attention and the addressee feels obliged to do something about the letter. However... in most cases the HR people and hiring managers do not give their names in the job ads... and often there is no way to find it out.

In those scientific establishments where I applied, the role of HR people was to collect all of the applications as they arrived, and pass them on to the head of the selection board after the closing date. It is the job and the competency of the selection board to decide if the application satisfies the selection criteria.

> ... a letter personally addressed to her.
> "What an interesting package. This one hit the
> nail on the head. The cover letter describes
> our problem exactly

How does an Assistant Hiring Manager know that someone's letter addresses the company's scientific matter correctly ? If she knew it, she would be working in a scientist's position at the bench instead of doing filing at the HR desk.

Regards,
Val
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Fairy Tale for the Job Seeker

Postby John Fetzer » Mon Nov 15, 2004 10:48 am

Val, Dave is right on one point, at least. In many companies an HR person or administrative assistant will filter through the resumes looking for key words and phrase. Three piles result: None, Some, and maybe? Since the person is non-technical, she or he is told to set aside any one that are unclear. The Some and maybe? piles go to the hiring person to look over. The none pile does, too, but gets only a combing through just in case.

For one position I was filling, for a PhD-level gas chromatographer, there were over 800 resumes sent in. Another, at the same time, for an atomic spectroscopist, had over 600. I did not like using a person to filter, but with that volume it was necessary.

Do human biases come in to play in that filtering? I think that it certainly happened along the lines of Dave's story. Puffed up resumes get ignored and ones to the point get noticed.

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Fairy Tale for the Job Seeker

Postby Andy » Mon Nov 15, 2004 9:23 pm

From Val:

"in most cases the HR people and hiring managers do not give their names in the job ads... and often there is no way to find it out."

Sorry Val, you're dead wrong there. There are literally hundreds of ways to find out the hiring manager's name, and people who have the ability to do that are the people who will get job interviews more often than not.

Best,

Andy
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Fairy Tale for the Job Seeker

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Nov 15, 2004 9:30 pm

I wrote this in fun, and it really isn't fair to "pick it apart." I don't appreciate that at all.

My point was this . . . Too many people think they can "fool" someone by pumping up the paperwork with fancy words and pinstripe paper. It doesn't work. My "Assist Hiring Manager" is a person who knows what the company is looking for. The clues to this are expressed in their ads, and the person writing simply needs to reference these needs in the letter, and provide examples of what it is that he/she has done in similar circumstances. And, using a person's name is golden. I can get anyone's name, any time. Yes, that is because of 20 yrs of phone experience, but also because I am not afraid to ask. If you can't get it from the receptionist, you get it from the Investor Relations dept or the Business Development secretary, etc.

Dave Jensen
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Fairy Tale for the Job Seeker

Postby Val » Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:06 pm


Dave Jensen wrote:

> I wrote this in fun, and it really isn't fair to "pick it apart." I don't appreciate that at all.

When you are posting your stuff to the Internet, you realize that there are thousands of "weirdos" out there who can pick up at your stuff. What's good for you, you are the moderator of this forum, and you can deal with the "uncomfortable" posting.

> Too many people think they can "fool" someone by pumping up the paperwork

OK. I'd like to note that the hiring practice may differ in the USA to that in Australia. In the latter, every scientist's job ad attracts 20-30 applications (five years ago it was about 40). Thus, it is no big deal for a selection board head to go through all of the applications by himself. Besides, there are not many specialists in the economy, and virtually none on the jobs market, so that the selection board is careful not to overlook a really competent applicant. BTW, hiring managers here prefer a 4-5 page resume rather than a 1-2 page resume as in the US -- they want to know as much as possible about the applicant.

When the job of the HR person is only to pass the application over to the selection board, it is not precious to address the HR person by the name; I'd rather open my cover letter by salutation to the selection board head. However, it may be counter-effective -- the job ad states that the applications should be sent to the HR person (and not to someone else); and the other (two) members of the selection board might take offence that the cover letter addresses their colleague, and thus sets the seniority for no valid reason.

However, it was useful for me to hear about hiring practices in the US. It is useful to keep one's horizon open.

Regards,
Val
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Fairy Tale for the Job Seeker

Postby Matt » Tue Nov 16, 2004 8:07 am

Dave,

I appreciated your fairy tail, and I think it contained some good advice (particularly in your message of focusing on a strong cover letter). Others on this forum appear to have missed the point, which is odd considering your sign off: ??posted in fun??.

I liked it,


Matt
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Fairy Tale for the Job Seeker

Postby Mark » Tue Nov 16, 2004 11:23 pm

let me throw my 2cents into this... While I respect Dave's perspective about crafting a specific resume to a specific job. Nowaday, with 90% of the companies required applicants to submit their resumes using text file format only into their database. It is almost impossible to craft a specific letter to the right hiring manager, even you know who to ask. I agree with with what Val said. A few days ago, I went to an entertainment interview workshop and the recruiter there told the audience that most companies don't even have the time or the personnel to screen paper resumes. And as far as going to different departments to ask for the hiring manager name as some suggested it, good luck...

Mark
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Fairy Tale for the Job Seeker

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Nov 17, 2004 12:10 am

Wow, there's some negativity, Mark. Why wouldn't you direct materials to someone by name? What power that has in it. I don't know if this is because you don't want to spend the money on the call to the company, or if you just give up when the receptionist tells you she can't give out names.

Sure, sending resumes or text through internet pipeline feeds into the H/R office is now standard practice. But hiring managers still get mail all the time, both their own emails as well as letters. Do you think that just because companies have developed one way for resumes to arrive into their computer, that we should all stop working on other ways to get in the door?

My feeling that now is the PERFECT time to get your foot in the door via other means. As soon as people start talking like Val and Mark, that means that the bulk of job seekers will be doing things "the ways that company H/R people suggest." That's really great, because then the other 10% of the job seekers can aggressively work AROUND that system and get the jobs.

The company wants a text file? Great, give them one. And then find out who the manager is and write that person directly! What THE HECK is wrong with that?

Dave

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Fairy Tale for the Job Seeker

Postby Gregg » Wed Nov 17, 2004 12:32 pm

Send the hard copy cv in a good quality white envelope addressed by hand using your best penmanship. That way it looks like a personal letter rather than junk mail.
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