December 13, 2009 in Business

Professionalism, acknowledgment go long way in job search process

Jan Quintrall
 

Interviewing is not something I do much anymore. But over the course of my career I’ve lost count of the number of individuals I’ve screened for jobs.

I’ve seen women come in dressed in sweatpants and T-shirts, men in shorts and those who arrive 20 minutes late and act like you’re the problem. But this is a new world.

Last month I wrote a column about companies not responding to job applicants. I talked about how tough it is to be out of work, that an applicant could be a future customer, and gave general thoughts on acknowledging the receipt of a resume. You can find it at: spokesman.com/tags/ jan-quintrall/.

Boy did I get an earful.

One reader questioned my grip on reality. Another said I was just silly. And while these particular e-mails were brutal, I heard similar comments in a gentler fashion from assorted overwhelmed human relations professionals. The general message was, in times like these we get so many responses to job postings that responding is just not possible.

OK, so maybe I’m not close enough to this process to know what I’m asking when I suggest a thank you or an e-mail to let the applicant know they reached the correct person. But, when the Better Business Bureau posted a job opening last week, I got to see firsthand.

We posted a non-entry-level position in a limited way and received about 50 responses in 36 hours. The only way to respond to our post was e-mail, so we were able to respond with a receipt confirmation quite easily, and we did. I offered to help screen, due to the sheer volume.

Now I have some thoughts for job seekers:

Proofread your cover letter and be sure to change the name of the company and position. I lost count of the number of messages that talked about a totally different position with another company.

Have someone read your resume. Some of the mistakes were comical. It was all I could do to not correct the mistakes and send the document back.

A little personality can be what sets your submission above the others; just keep it professional.

Take a good look at what message your e-mail address sends to a potential employer. Sexual connotations, racial slurs and simple stupidity are not going to get you anywhere.

Make sure your contact information is current and complete. And be sure you have your e-mail address listed. Like it or not, that is the preferred way to communicate in today’s business world.

So, to all you HR professionals out there, I understand a whole lot better the challenges you face.

However, I still think a simple e-mail response to applicants is not too much to ask. We did just that — a one-paragraph, quick response to those who submitted resumes. Because we had such a great pool to draw from, we pulled the posting after 48 hours and then responded to further applications that we were no longer reviewing resumes, but wished them well in their search.

That message was not universally well received. One job seeker took exception to us only leaving it open for 48 hours, thought the BBB should be better than that, and scolded us for not looking at the now additional 40 applications received after we closed the position. That was desperation speaking, and we took time to respond firmly but kindly.

Whether you are a job provider or a job seeker, timing is everything.

Jan Quintrall is president and CEO of the local Better Business Bureau. She can be reached at jquintrall@spokane.bbb.org.


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