Re: Acknowledge Resumes?

Subject: Re: Acknowledge Resumes?
From: Barb Philbrick <caslonsvcs -at- IBM -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 15:13:50 GMT

Summary of Responses to Acknowledging Resumes

Thanks to all of your responses. I heard an overwhelming "Yes, tell
them you received the resume," but "No, don't tell them why they were
rejected." Generally, people on the hiring end said don't volunteer
critiques because of legal issues and time issues. People on the
looking-for-job end would like to know.

Several people mentioned that form letters are better than post cards.
(Two people considered postcards tacky.) I was looking at it as the
quickest way to send out an acknowledgement. It takes more time to
stuff an envelope than to fill out a postcard.

BTW, some people mentioned that the cover letter looked like someone
was having a bad cut-and-paste and typo day. I agree - the resume
itself wasn't full of those kind of errors. However, as a two-person
shop, I need people with better attention to detail, especially at the
first impression stage of a project. I know we've had this debate ad
nauseum lately, so I will state simply that I'm on the side that
believes cover letters should be flawless. (My own, too. I was
mortified once when I reread a cover letter that I'd written. I said I
was looking for a "copyrighting" job instead of "copywriting." Gosh,
wonder why I didn't get the job?)

Some of the specific arguments for and against:


- In sue-prone society, don't subject yourself to possible unforeseen
response to message. (Many respondents.)

- "People are sending you their resumes for consideration for a job,
not for your critique. . . . Besides, do you really have that much
time to respond to every resume with a typo or misplaced comma? If
so, maybe you don't really need to hire someone." John Russell

- I would NOT give out any information as to why you've rejected
an applicant. It's the applicant's responsibility to figure that
stuff out on his/her own (one reason we don't like looking for
work, I suppose!). (Name withheld by request)

- I have gotten both postcard and e-mail "rejections". None stated
why, other than my skillset did not match their needs. (In some cases
I was overqualified for the position, in some I just wasn't right.) .
. . I would hesitate to point out the errors in a resume. If you are
presenting yourself as a writer, your work should be able to stand up
under scrutiny. (Joanne Grey)

- As a hiring manager, I make sure all resumes receive a response. We
send a standard "thanks for applying" letter. I would not give
specific reasons; I receive far too many to be able to do that.

- If you attempt to tell each person why s/he failed, you'll only
embarrass them, and that causes bad feelings. These folks may one day
be in the position of hiring YOUR COMPANY for work. . . . If a
person calls, and specifically asks why s/he didn't get the job,
then give him/her the truth. The ones who call are either 1) drones
who have been told to call "because its the right thing to do" and
they have no idea how to benefit from calling, or 2) serious
candidates who are interested in how they failed because they want to
do better. These are the folks who will benefit from an honest
assessment. John Bell

- Personally, if I want to know exactly why I didn't make the cut, I'd
ask. If I don't ask, it's because it's not that important to me.
Besides, isn't the main reason one applicant doesn't get the job
usually that there was another "better" applicant? How "better" is
determined may vary - did this person not get the job simply because
of those errors even though he was possibly better-qualified that
other comers, or because there was another equally-qualified applicant
who didn't make those same errors? Matt

- It's not a tricky question, really -- you're a hiring manager, not a
social worker! :-) You're not there to help them improve their
interview/presentation skills, you're trying to hire a good employee.
Stay focused on YOUR goal, and resist the temptation to befriend or
help your applicants. Christine Fedruk

- If I were Barb, I would send a form
letter to the non-interviewables that says "your qualifications do not
meet our needs for this position," because they obviously don't.
(Tracy Boyington)

- A form rejection letter is perfectly appropriate. Unless you're
handling hundreds of applicants or your company is really strapped for
funds, the rejection letter should be a letter, in an envelope, on
company letterhead. People who interview deserve a phone call and a
personal letter, whether they get the job or not. . . . . I don't want
to revive the perfect resume thread, so I'll just advise
you not to say anything to the applicant. People don't expect it--at
least, they shoudn't--and justifying yourself to everybody you reject
can turn into a huge time sink. If somebody doesn't make the cut often
enough, they'll take another look at their resume and then fix it, get
someone to help, or find another line of work. Jim Purcell

- Someone else suggested a "not hired" form letter, and that idea
seems sound. Lets applicants know their exact status in the process,
otherwise they might call for their status and waste your time and
theirs in the process. If you want to include a letter telling why
your company didn't hire the person, do so. But be careful. Aside
from the time investment involved, comments you consider helpful may
be taken the wrong way and could lead to problems. (Oops - deleted
another name.)

- Anyway, I, personally, would WANT to know about errors found in my
resume, so that I don't make the same mistake again. If the recipients
would rather not know of the errors, you can feel justified in having
not hired them (I wouldn't want to have someone working for me who
couldn't take friendly constructive criticism, would you?). David

- As a person who frequently looks for employment, I would love this.
I think one of the major problems is a lack of feedback on one's
letter/resume. . . . I would appreciate the feedback, but I would be
amazed if a single typo was considered more important that all my
years of experience and samples. Janet Valade

- My personal feeling is that I would LOVE to have this sort of
feedback on my resume. Of course, I'm sure there are people who would
be very offended by it, but personally I would see it as a service.
Jeanette Feldhousen

- I think that honest feedback is a rare gift. Go for it! (sorry,
deleted author)

OTHER INTERESTING RESPONSES (hey, it's my summary, I get to pick what
I think is interesting)

My personal favorite:
- Say: "TS, dude/babe. You didn't make it! Signed, your friend Barb"
Look at all the ink you would save. Buck Buchanan

- If you want to help these people, a proactive approach would
be a handwritten note that says something like, "Your
qualifications are admirable, but typographical/grammatical
errors on your resume detracted from your message/gave me the
impression that your writing skills are not adequately
developed...blah, blah, blah." (Jennifer Geaslen)

- (response to Jennifer's) For the record, I disagree - what happens
with the ''proactive'' approach? The person cleans up the resume but
the person's work habits stay the same. SOMEONE (not the
proactive responder) gets to employ a person who lacks pride
even in his/her own work. A typo-filled resume goes from my desk to
the trash can. John Glenn

Barbara Philbrick, Caslon Services Inc.

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