Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I get letters . . . and emails . . .

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 []
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?

Think you.


jan said...

A school principal once shared with me some of the letters he got from people seeking jobs as teachers. That might explain a lot about your email.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Jan, I hear you. But in defense of (some) teachers, I've got to add that my Carol taught high school English for 6 whole weeks one year before she quit in disgust. No discipline, the kids wanted to be somewhere else and paid no attention. When she left the kids couldn't figure out what her problem had been.
Still, we graduate kids with no skills. Then they are relatively unproductive, and they vote!


kenju said...

You'd be doing him a great favor to email him, John. That's really sad.