Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Literary References & Recommendations from the President: The New Job-Seeking Don'ts

While I do not intend to post regularly again until January, this post is the inevitable outcome of processing 150 multi-document job applications in 1 day and goes out to perhaps my #1 fan- the one who taught me to pronounce Oregon like the instrument.

There are many great sources of advice for job-seekers and as such, for the most part, I see individuals taking this must-do advice in stride. Show up on time. Dress professionally. Give a good handshake. Be prepared with questions. And so forth…

Certainly, there are the applicants who “don’t get it”. But they are fodder for a novel rather than a blog post and it wouldn’t be appropriate to blog about them while in an HR position. That said, there are a handful of general trends, I am seeing recurring in job-seekers who otherwise ‘get it’ and I think its fair to expound upon them in this blog.

Tonight, I’m going to discuss two trends I have seen recently, that I would suggest anyone on the job search steer clear of, complete with examples.

1.   Unique Sign-Offs and Signatures

Professional Sign-Offs Include: Best, Sincerely and Thank You. A professional signature includes contact information and the funkiest you should get is including your LinkedIn URL. A job application is not the place for the following:

  • -     Signing off “Peace”: I know some Seminary students who sign their emails “peace” meaning ‘peace and blessings’; I can’t help but hear ‘peace out, biatch!’ when I read the email to myself.
  • -     Signing off ‘Ciao’- We’re not in Italy and so it just feels very ‘intellectual-elitist-bohemian-this-is-how-I-talk-to-my-other-friends-from-study-abroad’
  • -     Using your signature for a quote rather than contact information. I am guessing that these applicants trying to come off as literary and passionate. At best, I pay no attention to a signature quote. At worst I wonder why at the bottom of an email asking if I received your resume, you’re quoting an obscure theorist about the importance of war.

2.    Choosing the Wrong Recommender

There are two keys things you need in a recommender: they need to know you and they need to care about you. The worst recommendations come from recommenders with only one or neither of these qualities. Here is an example:

I am writing to support the application of Sara McCord. As the president of the United States, I am responsible for running the free world and extremely impressive for all additional reasons one, two and three.

I hear that Sara McCord, like you and I, also loves America and indisputably was born in this country. As such, I recommend her to your program.

It may surprise you to learn that the executive director who writes that an applicant ‘is most impressive young professional she’s worked with in 10 years and here is specific project the applicant achieved and here are other specific wonderful qualifications’ is about 100 times more impressive.

So, in summation, I'm off to grab a latte. Peace, love and country music. Au revoir. “Wherever you are it is your friends who make your world”


p.s. Who says you need a major newspaper to support your desire to share your thoughts with the world?