SUMMARY: How do you respond to job ads?

Subject: SUMMARY: How do you respond to job ads?
Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1999 10:11:56 -0500

Hello all,

I was pleasantly surprised by the large number of responses my message
generated. You all gave me some excellent information that is helping
me modify my job ad approach.

I was also unpleasantly surprised by the strident responses some wrote.
I've been on this list since about 1993, so I know very well that this
group doesn't hold back. However, I've received blunt responses in the
past only when my posts have been inflammatory. (Well, except for one
acidic reply in about 1996 that told me I was a sexist pig because I
used "he" exclusively in a post.) My post yesterday was earnest, so I
expected nothing but earnest replies. (Waah.)

Some respondents drew some incorrect conclusions from my post:

* I _do not_ require submission of credentials via e-mail. I list both
our snail mail and e-mail addresses for submission. I make no
indication of which form I prefer.
* I _do not_ wastecan submissions that do not include samples or a cover
letter. I am disappointed when I don't get them, and do weigh their
omission in as a minor factor.
* I _do not_ reject candidates when their electronic submissions end up
poorly formatted on my end. It simply alerts me that the candidate may
not be sensitive to such issues.

Most respondents felt that candidates should do one of these three
things: follow the ad's directions, explain why they're not following
the directions, or don't apply. This echoes my thinking.

Many respondents gave helpful suggestions about how I can better set
expectations for electronic submissions. One good suggestion was to
mention the formats I can handle. I'll start doing that. Another good
suggestion was to simply chill out over formatting issues, because
despite an applicant's best efforts, you can't predict what happens on
the receiving end. I'll take that advice, as well.

I have decided to stop requesting samples in my ads. Roughly half of
respondents expressed concern and even indignation that I request
samples so early. Typical concerns were:

* How do I know what to send you? Should I send you three complete
manuals I wrote, or six pages drawn from various things I've done?
* How do I know you won't steal my ideas?
* I don't have extra copies of my work lying around to give you, and I
can't permanently part with the copies I do have. I'd have to pass on
* I prefer to explain my samples to you in person. That's the best way
for me to explain that I wrote sample A in five days under the tightest
deadline, but had the time to really perfect sample B, and here's how I
adjusted my process to accommodate both conditions.

So I will henceforth request samples when I first contact a candidate on
the telephone. I will say something like, "I'd like to review some
samples of your work. What's the best way for you to share them with
me?" This leaves it in the applicant's court to decide whether to mail
me samples, or to say that s/he would rather show me samples during an

Thanks again to everyone who replied.


jim grey \ Documentation Manager
Made2Manage Systems, Inc. \ jgrey -at- made2manage -dot- com

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