I’m an HR manager. People want jobs. It’s logical that they’ll contact me, right?
Well, of course! Part of my job when we have openings is to fill those vacancies with qualified applicants. I do that through a process called screening.
This screening is predicated on the assumption that there are more applicants than positions. And in my long career I’ve NEVER had fewer applicants than openings. Thus I have to assess each applicant to determine the best, most qualified one(s) for the job(s) I have.
Screening begins at first contact, which most often is in writing. A letter. An application form. Or today, maybe an email.
If you’re looking for a job and contact me in writing, wouldn’t you try to make a positive first impression? Of course you would! But then, maybe you’re different from a lot of people.
Here’s an email that came to my address yesterday. I’ve changed nothing except the name and email address. I didn’t even have to change the phone number (you’ll see why).
From: Mark Smith [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 10:10 AM
To: Earle, John
hello my name is mark smith i was looking to see if there was anyway that i can get a chance to be able to work at the plant, i just turned 18 and i really do need a job. if you need any info message me or call my number is 956-209865 think you and have a nice day.
Now, each year I go to our local high school and present to seniors something I call “Getting the Job.” I talk about the screening process, how it all really works, what hiring companies are really looking for, and what they do and DON’T care about.
I explain why we HR meanies screen OUT applicants before we even see them or know whether or not they’re qualified. (Because we don’t have TIME to interview 30-50 applicants to fill one job!) Is that FAIR? Probably not! But it’s how the system works.
Knowing we only want to actually interview about 5 people out of the 30-50 applicants, we screen out based on spelling, grammar, and content in the person’s writing. Is that a valid predictor of future job performance? Again, probably not! But it’s all we’ve got, initially.
No, I won’t be calling poor Mr. Smith above. I can’t—he left a digit out of his phone number. I could (and I might) reply to his email. If I do, I’ll try to gently suggest that in future contacts with ANY prospective employer he be a little less . . . uh . . . casual. In fact, I’ll give him an example of a properly written and formatted employment query.
Heck, I do it for the local high school seniors! Why not him, too?