How does hiring really take place? I’ve hired several people over the years and it went something like this: Someone in my area announced his or her departure, usually for a valid reason. One of my employees was moving because her husband got a job in another area of the country. One decided to go back to school; another got a higher paying job.
Since I typically had under a month to fill the spot, I immediately wrote and placed a classified ad for the Sunday job section of my local newspaper or, more recently, for a listing on Monster.com. At the same time, I asked friends and colleagues if they knew of someone for the job opening. Once I used an executive recruiter. Most times, the companies I worked for didn’t want to pay a recruiter’s fee.
A few days after the ad appeared, I typically received a batch of responses from the newspaper (I usually ran blind ads). At first, the messiness of the responses – in good economic times and bad – shocked me. You would be surprised by the number of letters that looked as if they had been chewed by the family dog.
I also was surprised by the poor quality of what came in. Some responses, sadly, seemed to be from people with mental problems. Some seemed illiterate. Since most of the positions I’ve had to fill over the years involved writing, I always assumed that the material I received would be written competently. Believe me, I wasn’t asking for Shakespeare. I just didn’t think I’d see so many spelling errors, typographical errors and constructions so clumsy I couldn’t figure out what the respondent was trying to say.
Then there’s the common sense part. Unless I specifically asked for a cover letter (which I eventually learned to do), few respondents sent more than a resume. And many of the ones who did send cover letters used them to tell me what they wanted from the job – title, money, work duties. Few used the cover letter to give me a glimpse of their personality or to sell me on inviting them in for an interview.
When I was lucky and received good responses, I would set up interviews. Since I knew the background of the people I was interviewing from their resumes, the main point of the meeting was to see whether I liked a candidate and whether I thought he or she would be right for the job and the company. I know that most people are nervous during job interviews, but I wanted to see whether they could tune in to the work environment sufficiently to ask questions, or whether they were so self-absorbed they only wanted to talk about themselves.
Most times, since there was pressure to fill the job, it was a case of choosing among just two or three candidates, sometimes fewer. If you’re going after a job for which you are reasonably qualified, it may not be all that hard. Write a compelling cover letter, be neat on paper and in person, and stay pleasant. There’s a very good chance you’ll get the job – even in these tough times!
(C) Copyright 2002 Evan Cooper. Syndicated by Paradigm News, Inc.