It’s short answer Saturday: six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…
Should I respond to application acknowledgement emails?
Occasionally, I will receive an email from the organization I apply to that says, “We have received your email, we’ll contact you if we like you…” Since this only happens every once in a while, I get this urge to respond to them because I am so excited they actually acknowledged that I applied for a position. Would this make me seem desperate? I would say something such as, “Thank you for your email. I am very interested in this opportunity and hope to hear from you soon…” Or if I don’t reply, would that make me seem uninterested?
No real impact either way. Well, I suppose there may sometimes be a slight positive impact from responding enthusiastically, but it’s very minimal. (On the other hand, though, even the chance of slight positive impact is something, which may make it worth doing.)
Is it better to email or fax applications?
When both an e-mail address and a fax number is given as an option to respond to a job ad, which method is more effective? I had done the e-mail method most of the time for the convenience of the hiring manager but when I started faxing the resumes, the employers e-mailed me to acknowledge that it was received. So, which is more effective in the long run?
There are always exceptions, but in general email is better. Lots of companies keep everything electronically, so getting something by fax (or postal mail) requires extra time to integrate it with their files. It’s also harder to forward a resume that arrives by fax (to colleagues for input, etc.). And frankly, fax feels a little old-school at this point. I would wonder why someone chose fax rather than email; it seems a bit out-of-touch with technology.
Is it better to respond to a job ad immediately or wait a few days?
Is it better to respond to an ad right away and run the chance of being lost in the shuffle or hold off a day or two in hopes of standing out? I’ve been told that waiting gives the impression you really aren’t that eager.
There’s no good answer to this because different employers handle applications differently: The good ones review every application they get and contact the best ones, and how early or late you applied has no bearing. But there are plenty of bad hirers out there too, and among those, some call the first five qualified applicants they receive, and ignore everyone who comes in after that. And some let applications pile up and then call the first five on the top of their stack. So there’s no way of knowing what will be best for any given employer, unless you have insider information about how they operate.
Two things I can say for sure, though: (1) Apply as soon as you know you’re interested, because if you wait, you may miss the window of opportunity entirely. (For all you know, they’re near the end of their hiring process.) That said … (2) Anyone who tells you that applying a few days after the ad goes up gives the impression that you aren’t very enthusiastic doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Most job-seekers aren’t looking at ads every single day, and any employer who assumes that they are or should be is delusional.
Including mailing address at top of emailed cover letter
Every example cover letter I’ve ever seen uses a business letter heading that includes both your and your prospective employer’s mailing address. I’m preparing to apply for positions in research labs at large universities, all of which require that you copy and paste your cover letter into a box on the HR web site. Using the first 8 or so lines for addresses seems like a ridiculous holdover from the days when people actually mailed things.
In the age of the Internet, when you don’t know the name of the person who will be reading your cover letter let alone their address, what’s the proper formatting for this kind of thing?
That’s the correct format for a letter you’re printing out and mailing. It is not the correct format for an email. With email, your first line is the salutation — “Dear ____.” You don’t need to start with the date, their address, or your address.
Employer calling references more than once
I am currently in a temporary position for a company that I have been trying to get back to for quite a while. I have progressed quite well in the interview process for an administrative position; three interviews and reference checks by the hiring manager (a director for whom I would be providing support). I received notice today that the Executive Director of the division (whom I would also support) wants to schedule phone calls with two of my references. They are within the company and I have good relationships with both, so in this instance it really isn’t a big deal. I’ve given them the heads up to expect the call to schedule the calls. I’m a little concerned, though, that if my references were not internal or if I wasn’t in regular contact with them, they could really get annoyed. Wouldn’t you expect everyone’s questions to be incorporated into one round of reference checks? Aside from the fact that this seems really inefficient, isn’t it just kind of weird?
It’s a little strange. There are three possibilities here:
1. They always do this, which would be pretty weird.
2. They’re unorganized and didn’t communicate well with each other about who would be handling reference checks. In fact, it’s possible that the executive director doesn’t even realize that the hiring manager already called your references. Or she knows but doesn’t care because she’s for some reason committed to doing them herself — because she doesn’t think the hiring manager does them effectively, or because she’s a control freak, or something else entirely. Who knows.
3. There’s a specific issue that the executive director is wondering about, which the hiring manager didn’t probe in her own reference calls, and they’re not comfortable moving forward until they hear your references speak about it.
I was rejected, offered feedback, and then ignored
I recently applied for a job and got two phone interviews. Unfortunately, I did not get the job. However, the manager emailed me saying that I was a “front runner” if there was a similar opening in the future. He also asked me if I wanted any feedback or had any questions. I emailed him back thanking him for the time and asked for feedback. The manager then proceeded to email me back asking if I would be available for a phone call on some future date. The day passed and he did not call me. Should I write a follow-up email asking why? Does this happen a lot?
It was generous for the hiring manager to offer feedback and even more so to schedule an actual phone call in which to give it, which implies that he’s willing to give you something substantive, which often isn’t the case. I wouldn’t write an email asking why he missed the call (that’s a little accusatory when he was offering you a favor), but I would send an email saying you figured that something must have come up but that you’d still appreciate any feedback he can give, at his convenience. Reiterate your appreciation for his willingness. Good luck!