paying to find a job, ambiguous questions on job applications, and more

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It’s tiny answer Tuesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Can you ask HR to clarify an ambiguous question on a job application?

I have a question about addressing ambiguous questions on job applications. In essence, the application I recently filled out has a question that could be interpreted in a number of different ways, so I emailed HR (once) to ask what they specifically meant. I did this because the ad states that applicants should direct job-related questions to HR (and provided HR’s email address). I should note that I was very concise and polite.

It’s been a few days and they haven’t responded, and I’m worried that if I’m left to my own devices, I may fill out the job application incorrectly. What do you think I should do?

Interpret it as best you can, finish the application, and submit it. Don’t wait for an answer from them.

Other candidates are presumably making do, and you don’t want to come across as someone who needs special hand-holding that others didn’t require. That’s not to say that plenty of applications don’t have poorly worded, ambiguous questions; they do. But you’ll rarely get clarification from busy HR departments, who tend to think their application questions work just fine as stated or that you should be able to find a way to make do. And following up a second time when you already tried once is likely to cement an impression that you’re potentially high maintenance, which you don’t want.

2. How to complain to another department about their temp’s terrible writing

We have an HR temp at our organization who has terrible writing skills. Her emails use incorrect tenses or include made-up words. Here are two of many examples:
“I have learn that the library was temporarily move into the conference room so I have schedule another room for this interview at rm 501. Also attach you will find (Name, no apostrophe) resume.”
and
“Can I have the password for (website) in order to login and post this job position and I apologized for the in-convinced this may have cause.”

She has used “in-convinced” in several emails, including emails to candidates. Our department is very worried these poorly written emails are going to drive away the best candidates, who will take one look at who we are hiring for our HR personnel and decide to go elsewhere. It is very embarrassing for us, especially since we are a college.

How can we correctly approach our HR manager about this? She has obviously seen some of these emails but doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it herself. Maybe a little push from another department will make her a little more proactive about fixing this issue?

Yes, someone should talk to her manager, ideally someone who’s roughly at the same level as her manager. That person should say: “I’ve noticed Jane has repeatedly sent out emails, including to candidates, with misspellings, made-up words, and generally poor writing. I’m concerned about how this is portraying us to candidates and others. What can we do to ensure that her emails are corrected before they’re sent out externally?”

If the problem continues after that, then you push back harder: “The problem is continuing, and we can’t have her unedited emails being sent out representing us.”

3. Should you pay to find a job?

What do you think of “pay for” job search websites such as The Ladders, Linkedin, or even a paid head hunter? Do they help? Sometimes I find it difficult to pay for these services. To me, Linkedin is an extortion site.

The Ladders is a scam, and in general, you shouldn’t pay someone to find you a job; reputable headhunters are paid by employers, not by job searchers. I’m not sure why you find LinkedIn to be “extortion” though; there are plenty of free ways to use that site to assist in job searching.

4. What to put on your resume if you don’t have any accomplishments

I read your article about why you might not be getting interviews. One of the points recommended listing specific accomplishments rather than job duties. What if I don’t have any accomplishments? I’m not saying I wasn’t a good employee, but I didn’t increase sales or save the company any money that I know of. This really has me stumped.

What made you a good employee? What about you should make an employer want to hire you over other candidates with similar job experience? That’s what your resume needs to convey. Figure out the answers to those questions (using objective facts, not subjective ones), and turn them into resume bullets.

People often think this needs to be quantitative (made $X in sales or saved $X in costs), but it doesn’t; for many, many jobs, it’s going to be primarily qualitative. But you do need to explain what made you great at previous jobs. If you can’t, how do you expect a hiring manager to figure out why they should hire you over roughly similar candidates? More on this here.

5. When can I express preference for a job location during an interview process?

I applied for a position at a company based in Washington, DC. My research indicated that the salary range for this position would make it a stretch for me to live in DC, but doable. When they called me for a phone interview, the recruiter said that the position I applied for usually started out at this other, more junior position and then typically transitions to the more senior position. I am totally fine with starting at a more junior level, but the salary is quite a bit lower, making it nearly impossible for me to make “ends meet” in DC (and I’m relocating from the Midwest). However, as I researched this more junior position, I noticed that they have an office in Charlottesville, VA, and that the job description on the website says “located in: Washington, DC or Charlottesville, VA”. Not only is that much more preferable in terms of living on the salary, but if I’m honest with myself, I’m not a big-city kind of person and I’d really prefer to live in Charlottesville. They’ve moved me on to the second round, which includes a research “homework assignment” that I have 7 days to complete. The email with the HW assignment said “…after we receive your homework assignment we will contact you within ten days about scheduling the interview in either our DC or Charlottesville office.”

At what point (if any) do I speak up about my serious preference for Charlottesville? Should I say something quickly when I submit my assignment or when I (hopefully) get an offer? I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I also don’t want to get far down the interview process and perhaps interview with coworkers in DC if I can swing the Charlottesville location. Is this something I should bring up sooner than later, or am I jumping the gun? Is it something I even get to voice a preference for?

Absolutely. It’s fine to email the recruiter and say something like, “By the way, I realized that we hadn’t discussed location of the position and it’s advertised as being in either D.C. or Charlottesville. I have a strong preference for Charlottesville, if it’s possible for that to be taken into account.”

It’s useful for them to know that at this stage, particularly if “strong preference” really means “the only one I’d accept.”

6. How should I have corrected this HR rep who misheard my salary numbers?

An HR rep asked for my earnings history, which I broke down into salary and sales commissions (I listed the commissions one by one so I gave her a total of four numbers). She misheard one of the numbers and when she gave me the total, I said that it was wrong because it was much too high. She shrugged it off and said she rounded a bit and quoted me a lower number, which was still wrong — but I was too embarrassed to correct her again (since I didn’t know why it was so off) and just said “yeah…” and moved on to my most recent job where I gave her numbers that I’m 100% sure are correct.

When I went home and did the math, I realized what had happened (she’d taken a “teen” for a “-ty”) and immediately emailed her to correct the error, but now I’m concerned that she’ll think I was lying about my commissions the first time and withdraw the offer. For future reference, what would have been the correct way to handle this situation? Should I not have pointed out the mistake?

I wouldn’t worry that she’ll think you’re lying. Just be straightforward: “I think you you heard Xty rather than Xteen.”

If something like this happens in the future, just point it out at the time. And don’t be thwarted if she gets it wrong the second time — just say, “No, it’s X,” just like you would with a friend or colleague. (In fact, how you’d handle it with a colleague is a good guide for lots of hiring-related situations where you’re not sure whether to speak up or how to word something.)

7. Are auto-replies to job applications rude?

I’m curious what your opinon is on auto-replies for applications/resume submissions. On more than one occasion, I have received something similar to this: “Thank you for submitting your information. If you are chosen to advance in the hiring process, you will be contacted…”

Isn’t that just as frustrating as not hearing back at all? It’s good that I know they received my application, but that still leaves me with no notice of rejection, so is it really any more considerate?

Well, it at leasts confirms that your application was received, so you’re not sitting around wondering if it’s lost somewhere. Honestly, you should be mentally moving on after you submit an application anyway — statistically speaking, your chances of being selected for an interview are low enough that it doesn’t make sense to do anything else. And really, what would you do differently if you got a real rejection notice? It’s just mental closure, and you can give that to yourself by moving on right after applying.

What I find far more rude is when a company interviews a candidate and then doesn’t get back to them. At that point, the person has invested time and energy in speaking with them, there’s been personal contact, and it’s incredibly rude to never bother to respond.

{ 182 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. LearnedALot

    Really interesting link to the story about The Ladders. I had no idea it was a scam, but I am not surprised. I remember seeing their commercials and thinking “wow, really, all 100k jobs???”

    Reply
    1. nyxalinth

      I’m not in that bracket and never will be, but it didn’t strike me as anything odd. I just figured they had very few available and charged a hefty fee to weed out the people who don’t have that experience. But I’m not surprised that it’s a scam, after all.

      Reply
    2. Jane Doe

      I just assumed it was a scam (or at the very least, bs) because I figured that most $100K+ jobs are the kinds of things you network your way into.

      Reply
      1. VintageLydia

        Depends on your area. In bigger cities with higher cost of living, you could get $100K by mid career.

        Reply
      2. Jamie

        Not necessarily. I know plenty of people in middle management – engineering and IT mostly – who are in that range and using job boards.

        Reply
        1. AB

          Just to complement what Jamie said, plenty of business analysts and project managers in my area (Austin, TX) earn more than 100K.

          Reply
          1. Jamie

            I remember when six figures was a lot of money – it’s more and more common place for mid-career jobs now.

            One of my favorite things ever is references to salaries in old sitcoms. Jerry Robinson in Bob Newhart did great one year because he cleared 50K – he was an orthodontist. Ted Baxter as anchorman on WJM made 35K and that was such a huge amount of money Murray wanted to quit over it.

            Carl Reiner in an interview said they took great care to furnish the Petrie house on the Dick Van Dyke show for someone of his income level…and a head writer on a network tv show back in the early 60′s was clearing about 28 K per year…so the house had to reflect that.

            I would die happy if I knew the incomes of Darrin Stephens and Larry Tate.

            I really need a better hobby.

            Reply
            1. AB

              “I would die happy if I knew the incomes of Darrin Stephens and Larry Tate.”

              LOL! You are too funny, Jamie.

              Reply
    3. Greg

      I wouldn’t say so much that it’s a scam in the mustache-twirling, tossing dollar-sign bags in the back of a Fiji-bound plane sense. It’s more that they’re essentially charging for a product (job listings) that has been thoroughly commoditized, and they’re not really offering anything premium for all that money.

      Think about it: If you asked the average job seeker what their biggest hurdle was, how many would say, “I can’t find enough job openings”? Sure, TheLadders promises to show “premium” jobs, but leaving aside whether they’ve been misleading people about the $100K threshhold, the fact is they never really had any jobs listed that couldn’t be found elsewhere. So there was really no way they could have possibly provided the value they were charging for.

      The other problem is that their business model is almost set up to not build long-term sustainable relationships. If you use the service and find a job quickly, you unsubscribe and are an unprofitable customer for them. But if it takes you a long time, they make a lot of money off of you, but you hate their guts.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        They’re truly a scam in the “fraudulent” sense. They tell people they guarantee to only list $100K+ jobs when in fact they don’t verify that at all — they just GUESS at what they think the salary range might be.

        Reply
        1. Greg

          Fair enough. I’m certainly not going to defend them. I guess my point was that, from a potential customer’s perspective, even if they weren’t lying about the $100K thing, it would still be a bad investment because they’re charging for something that doesn’t really have that much value.

          Reply
  2. Canadian mom

    #7 – I get this all the time. At least you know that they got your application (that it didn’t end up in a Spam folder) and they’ll be giving it the same scrutiny as any other application.

    Reply
    1. Kerry

      Yeah, I love autoresponses – they’re reassuring that I’ve navigated everything correctly and the company will be looking at my materials just like everyone else’s.

      Reply
      1. Felicia

        At least it’s not an automatic response saying you were rejected, as soon as you submit the application. That’s happened to me before and it’s frustrating because those things take so long.

        Though I’ve just scheduled a phone interview for a job where I got that sort of response to the long application form, so it really does mean they’re considering you.

        Reply
        1. WWWONKA

          To me the auto response just tells me they received my resume. It also tells me that my resume may still be going through the computer program that compares key words to their needs.
          I have received a rejection e mail withing 5 minutes of sending a resume.
          And, as AAM noted I also am in the process of waiting for an answer to a job I physically took the time to do a face to face interview with from 6 weeks ago.

          Reply
        2. Angie

          I had that happen once! I filled out this LONG application. At the end of it, I got a rejection. I am not a big fan of anything that takes up a lot of a candidate’s time before they even know if they seriously want the job.

          Reply
  3. VintageLydia

    #2 — I have to giggle a bit at the grammatically incorrect header considering the content of the question :P But I think you meant to delete either the “tell” or “complain”?

    Reply
  4. jesicka309

    #4 I think you’ve mixed up quantitative and qualitative. You’ve written: “People often think this needs to be quantitative (made $X in sales or saved $X in costs), but it doesn’t; for many, many jobs, it’s going to be primarily quantitative.”

    Do you mean qualitative at the end there? :)

    I always seem to get stuck on this point, especially because the reason I’d like to quit current role is because there isn’t any scope for achievement beyond the job description (even requests for additional training are treated as an annoyance). You can’t really put “has a positive attitude in the face of a dead end job” on a resume, right? Sigh.

    Reply
  5. Jessa

    I tend to like the “thanks for your submission” form letters. I have applied to many places with no clue whatsoever whether the application process even happened, because they don’t bother to send even a system generated response. Also for those on unemployment such a response is a help when they have to prove up where they have submitted.

    Reply
  6. Henning Makholm

    #2 — there’s a difference between being a bad writer and making up words. In the samples we see here, the only word that is not obviously an attempt to spell the right one is “in-convinced”, and even that is likely to be the lovechild of an honest misspelling of “inconvenience” and a spellchecker that has “in-” in its list of generally applicable prefixes.

    In fact, since all the other words (excepting “rm”) are correctly spelled, just with wrong inflection, it could look like the temp depends critically on a spellchecker in order to produce even this — and honestly thinks she’s doing well because she makes all the little red squiggles disappear.

    Reply
    1. Nikki T

      When I saw this, I thought, (perhaps unchecked) learning disability. I have a relative who writes similarly, and I really feel like he has some sort of dyslexia….
      He speaks just fine, but his writing can be confusing.

      Reply
    2. Escritora

      It’s still illiterate. She still does not appear to have passed even elementary, middle, and high school English classes, and since, in America at least, that’s a subject you have EVERY YEAR, failure to master basic writing is incredible. I’m going with profound learning disability or just plain illiterate. I’ll accept “lazy” or “sloppy,” too.

      Then again, it’s possible she’s not a native English speaker–she makes the kind of errors I might expect in someone whose language doesn’t include tense conjugations. However, if she’s expected to communicate with the outside world [in English], she has to be proficient, and she’s not.

      I would refuse to work for a company that allowed their name on something written so badly as the samples here. Full disclosure: I work for a newspaper, so this is not even negotiable. I hope the OP is more firm and proactive about this; there are plenty of unemployed people who actually know how to write. “Jane” had better be exceptionally good at math or science. Otherwise, she should go to night school (do those still exist?) or community college. Regardless, a job that requires proficiency with written English is not one she’s qualified to do.

      Reply
      1. LisaLyn

        I also thought perhaps this person isn’t a native speaker of English. If that is the case, then personally, I would quickly acknowledge that in the conversation with her manager. But in the end, the result needs to be the same: her emails need to be proof-read before they go out.

        Reply
      2. Lora

        “Jane” had better be exceptionally good at math or science.
        Nope, we need people to be literate too.

        One of my colleagues, for whom English was a second language, could speak English well enough but could not read/write it to save his life. He could not read hazard information on chemicals and equipment, he could not read bottle labels and frequently screwed up experiments because one bottle of pink stuff looked like another bottle of pink stuff. He got by with emails and whatnot by running it through Google Translate, but in the lab it was a disaster. More frustrating, our boss knew and did nothing about it.

        Reply
        1. Schnauz

          At the plant where my dad works, they have seasonal exployees come through a few times a year. They have to speak english for safety and the contracted companies they work for are supposed to guarantee they do. He told us that one time a contractor almost melted his face off/died because he apparently could not read English well enough to see that he was trying to open a pipe of super-heated steam.

          Reply
        2. Jamie

          This is so frustrating, even without the safety issues – but that had to be scary.

          And you can work with someone for quite a while before you realize that even though spoken English is very good there is a reason you never get a response to an email…just a drive by even after multiple requests to submit X via email. Or why someone else always proofs the documents under their control.

          If it’s not required – fine – but if business is conducted in only one languages it’s very difficult when someone requires 100% verbal communication all the time, especially when it’s not how business is usually conducted.

          Reply
    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      It’s still terrible writing though; it doesn’t really matter what the cause is, as far as the end result is concerned. The company can’t have emails going out like that and representing them.

      Reply
      1. Nikki T

        Oh definitely, it should be addressed. Either by not allowing her to send outside emails, or having someone edit them prior, which would seem to get cumbersome.

        She’s a temp? She needs to be replaced and the agency (if applicable) needs to be told why.

        Reply
        1. Chinook

          I want to add that that her temp agency needs to be told that her writing skills are horrendous. Regardless of whether she has ESL (which is my guess), a learning disability or is jsut lazy and trusts spellcheck way too much, someone who communicates externally needs to represent the company professionally. Expecting someone to write effectively in this role would be the same as expecting an accountant to not switch numbers (numeric dyslexia – which I have). For 6 months, I typed columns of numbers for audit reports with no room for error, and I understood my limitations and triple checked everything that ever passed through my hands. Jane should be doing the same thign with her writing.

          Reply
    4. EM

      I’m a terrible speller. I know I am, and I know the words I tend to have trouble with (if I remember this, then why can’t I ever remember how to spell those words correctly?!? but I digress). Therefore, I have my email set up to automatically spell-check my emails before they get sent out, and I only use internet browsers with built-in spell-check. All that said, I know I’m a damn good writer. Being able to spell, and being able to write coherently and thoughtfully are different skill sets, IMHO.

      This person isn’t merely a bad speller; she can’t even recognize that she is using words that don’t exist, and I doubt she’s doing it intentionally (like Stephen Colbert does). Her sentence structure violates the rules of grammar, and therefore it makes it hard on the reader to figure out just what she’s saying.

      Reply
  7. Jen in RO

    My thought regarding #2 is that she’s not a native English speaker… her English sounds like what I see every day at work, in a multinational company.

    However… if your English/French/Hindi is not good enough for communication, you should find a different job (or get a dictionary/classes/help from a coworker who can check your emails).

    Reply
    1. Daisy

      That seems like something the OP would know/have mentioned though? Although I agree, spelling mistakes are one thing, but it’s hard to see how a native speaker could consistently fail to use the past tense correctly.

      Reply
      1. bearing

        I’m voting for “never learned the importance of writing a professional email with correct grammar.”

        Reply
    2. The IT Manager

      I’d like to hear from LW#2 because if I saw these grammatically bad sentences on the internet I might think it was from a non-native speaker, but the LW never said that the temp was a non-native speaker so I’m inclined to think that she’s just not skilled at written communication.

      Either way, I’m not sure if all these suggestions to help the temp learn better communication skills are useful. Not to be harsh, but she’s a temp so there’s no real incentive for the college to train her to be better. LW#2 should complain to the manager because you don’t want this to be the public face of your college. But there’s a really good chance that any complaints to the temp company will get the temp removed from the college and replaced by another one hopefully with better written communication skills.

      * There’s something not quite “educated non-native speaker” about those sentences that actually make me think under-educated English speaker.

      Reply
      1. LisaLyn

        Ah, true about her being a temp. I’d hate to cause her issues, but I would be tempted to speak with the temp agency about that. Those mistakes are really bad. It sounds like the person who is actually managing her while she’s there doesn’t care to do anything. I can’t imagine anyone could miss it!

        Reply
        1. Jamie

          It’s much better if a manager at her agency is kind enough to address it with her now, rather than sparing her feelings and just never sending her out for anything worthwhile.

          I am incredulous that she doesn’t know this is an issue, I would think just reading the correct writing of others would clue her in to something being amiss…but for whatever reason it’s a real blind spot for some people.

          This will hamper her career – someone needs to be kind enough to be direct and point this out to her.

          Reply
          1. Chinook

            If she is an undereducated native speaker, she may not realize that her version of English is incorrect and think of it only as a dialect that is still appropriate for work. For example, if an outport Newfoundlander wrote like they spoke, it would be hard to understand but every Newfoundlander I have ever met seems to have been taught how to write in standard Canadian or British English (those over a certain age would have learned under a British system).

            In short, she needs to be made aware of how her skills are limiting her.

            Reply
          2. Angie

            I agree with giving her the feedback rather than sparing her feelings. It would be really nice if someone would point this out to her as it is just going to continue to hurt her career. Especially if she is an otherwise good employee. It would be the kind thing to do. Most local community colleges have grammar skills and business writing classes. This is definitely something that she can work on and improve.

            Reply
        2. Katie the Fed

          I’m kind of harsh on this kind of thing, but when you hire a temp, you’re paying an agency for a service. If that agency doesn’t provide the service, it’s something you take up with the agency. Basically, you’re buying a broken widget. You tell the company to fix the widget or get you a new one.

          Same thing with contractors. Yes, her manager at the agency could work with her, but they’re also not getting the service they paid for. That’s the whole point of hiring temps.

          Reply
          1. Rana

            As a former temp, I have to agree. The client is paying your agency for a service; if you’re not able to perform that service well, they shouldn’t be assigning you.

            Reply
      2. Jamie

        I got the same feel…it didn’t read as non-native speaker to me, either.

        I hope the OP chimes in on this – I’m curious.

        Reply
        1. Henning Makholm

          My best guess at the moment is that perhaps her native language is an East/Southeast Asian one where verb tenses as we know them don’t exist (they have ways of expressing the temporal relation between the actions they speak about, of course, but not as an obligatory part of saying anything like it is in Indo-European langauges).

          If furthermore she has learned English by immersion (rather than from systematic teaching) after her early childhood, it doesn’t feel too farfetched that she may never have internalized any solid intuition about English tenses.

          Reply
          1. Chinook

            And that was what I loved about learning Japanese – 3 verb tenses vs. the 12 in English and 15 in French (they make up for it with different verbs for different levels of politeness). The verb tense issue clued me in to it possibly being an ESL thing too, possibly from SE Asia.

            Reply
          2. Jamie

            There are improper American speech patterns of which a characteristic is incorrect tenses.

            I could be wrong, but this easily could be a native speaker.

            Reply
        2. Ellie H.

          Agreed. I would say that I have a lot of experience reading English written by non-native speakers and this strikes me as a native speaker with extremely poor writing skills in standard English. I would be surprised if it were by a non-native speaker.

          Reply
      3. Zed

        When I read the example sentences, I didn’t think non-native speaker (though it is certainly possible). Instead, the errors remind me of the college students I used to tutor. Most, if not all, of these students spoke non-standard English, and most had never received much writing instruction/support for standard English while in school.

        Reply
          1. The IT Manager

            I don’t think we’re speculating about a dialect here. We’re talking about bad grammar used by someone who was never taught or never learned to write well. And even if she uses this bad grammar when talking doesn’t make it proper English.

            Reply
        1. Chinook

          I find it interesting to read the debate between the temp being an non-native speaker and a native speaker with non-standard English dialect. The linguistics geek in my is fascinated to hear about how American English has non-standard dialects, especially since I only hear the standard version on TV or in the movies. In Canada there are recognized dialects (that happens when one group of people are isolated on an island) but I never thought of it happenning in the US.

          Reply
          1. Mel

            Shouldn’t be too surprising. I, a native speaker of American English, almost need subtitles to watch “The Wire”, and while living in rural Louisiana it took me a year to easily understand what people were saying.

            Reply
            1. Chinook

              I have heard of “the Wire” but never seen it because we don’t get that particular American channel unless we pay a lot of money and get the really posh satellite packages. I discovered “Mad Men” 2 years after it came out and wait patiently for it to come out on DVD and then cost less than $40 for the season.

              Reply
              1. Chinook

                I should also add that the Newfie accent is actually foudn throughout Canada wherever 2 or more Newfoundlanders gather. A large portion of them go away from home for work and do their best to blend in until alcohol, friends or music are added to the mix.

                Reply
    3. Anonymous

      I thought this as well. One of my cousins came to this country when she was 5 years old, speaking no English. After a few years, she was moved out of ESL into regular classes. She speaks and writes exactly like the #2 email (the bad verb tenses, mostly). The kicker is she actually does NOT understand, speak, read, or write in her native language anymore. She speaks to her mom in English. I’m guessing she learned her bad English from her mom, but her mom is the only other person in our family who speaks English as her second language. I just wonder how she got through her entire schooling years including college and this was never corrected for over 20 years now at this point.

      Reply
      1. Jen in RO

        This is odd. I started learning English at 4 years old (in a Communist country, even!) and I could spell perfectly well by the time I finished secondary school. I’m an exception, let’s say, since I always liked foreign languages and grammar/spelling/style issues, but still, if I could learn English in Romania, without setting foot in an English-speaking country until I was 25, I’m baffled as to how your cousin couldn’t.

        (And then I think about people my age who can’t even spell in Romanian and I stop being baffled :( )

        Reply
    4. Runon

      I completely agree with this. This doesn’t sound like someone who has a unique speaking/writing style, but does sound like someone who is not a native English speaker.

      That said if I got an email like that I’d probably assume that it was a scam email and discard it. Linguistic styles like that are very common in scams.

      Reply
    5. AG

      I agree that it sounds like she is not a native speaker. I work with someone who moved to the US at age 5. Her English is almost perfect but she occasionally forgets to pluralize, and she admits that she often has difficult choosing prepositions. That said, her general written and verbal communication are fine, and since she knows I like to write/edit she has me review/refine a lot of things.

      That said, if this person is writing external-facing communication, something has to change.

      Reply
  8. Kerry

    I just want to say how helpful I’ve found Alison’s advice to move on emotionally after sending job applications. I’ve had a few recent conversations with friends who were seriously stressing out about applications they’ve just sent, and I remember feeling that way myself (it was horrible!). I think ‘send it off, then forget about it’ was the single piece of advice that improved my most recent job search the most and kept it from eating my brain and emotional energy.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth West

      Keeping the spreadsheet helped me, because once I wrote it in there, I could forget about it. I didn’t have to keep track, which kept me from thinking about it too much. Open spreadsheet–do apps–send them–enter in spreadsheet–close it–go do something else.

      Reply
  9. Allison (not AAM!)

    #4 – A head hunter friend of mine was invaluable to me when preparing my résumé. While you DO have to focus on and note individual contributions to your previous job/s, she pointed out to me that if you were part of a team that accomplished something extraordinary, it’s okay to use that. Example from my résumé: Team achieved or exceeded sales and booking budgets quarter over quarter for over three years in an extremely down market.

    I was not a sales rep at that job, but was able to highlight what our collective efforts accomplished. One thing my friend never mentioned, but is important to me, is that it also shows that my comment about being a team player is more than just lip service.

    Reply
    1. VictoriaHR

      I’m a corporate recruiter and I help friends with their resumes all the time. Utilizing a friend’s/associate’s resume/job hunting knowledge is one thing, but paying a stranger to do it is something else.

      Reply
      1. Allison (not AAM!)

        Happily, no charge – she helped gratis…because she loves me ;-)

        A former VP of my company actually took a 2-day class on how to write a resume. This is a woman looking for a $200k+ position. It was HORRIBLE. 4 pages long, and the last page was a cut and paste of her LinkedIn endorsements! 3-4 different fonts, so hard to follow, and VERY repetitive. just bad. I showed it to my HH friend and she concurred. So you really do take chances when you blindly follow the advice of someone not vetted…I think she paid about $250 for that class!

        Reply
  10. Marmite

    #7 I like those responses for two reasons; 1) it confirms that my application was received, and 2) it often gives a more detailed next-step timeline than that provided in the job description (e.g. “if your application is successful we will contact you within the next x weeks” or “we plan to schedule interviews for the week beginning x.”)

    Reply
  11. Marmite

    #4 I found this difficult too because the work I have done in the past is not the type that provides quantitative achievements, it doesn’t involve sales or gaining a company accounts or helping x number of students get A grades. Once I started thinking qualitatively, though, I found achievements I could include. I also find it helps to remember you’re not expected to have huge lists of achievements, particularly if your previous jobs have been fairly restrictive in scope (retail work, for example).

    Reply
  12. straws

    #5 – This may not help with the cost of living issue, but might for your concern about the big city. There are a number of areas around DC in VA and MD that are a lot less ‘big city’ and are served by DC public transportation. My father has worked in DC for many, many years and has never lived there. He’s always been in VA. If Charlottesville turns out to not be an option, you might want to check some of those out.

    Reply
      1. Meg

        As s9me9ne who lived near the Shady Grove station and moved between the Silver Spring and Glenmont stations (yet not near Forest Glen), I can assure you that despite being more suburban, it’s still quite expensive.

        On the west end of the red line, like Rockville and Bethesda, it’s quite expensive (think $1.5m townhomes). Gaithersburg is a little more reasonable. Germantown is more suburban, but 270 in the morning is a pain, and the metrorail doesn’t go that far up.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous_J

          I live in Montgomery County (upper), and it is darned near prohibitive. My mortgage is huge! I’m hoping to move to another (neighboring) state next year to cut my expenses.

          Reply
    1. VintageLydia

      Yeah, I live near the end of the VRE (Virginia Railway Express) and prices are way more reasonable here than DC. Still high compared to the rest of the country, but doable.

      Reply
      1. scm

        DC is a great city, and there are great neighborhoods that don’t have that “big city” feel. Also, think about all those Hill staffers who are making like 22k-25k when they first start out–they figure out a way to make it work–roommates, budgeting, public transport. It’s possible! I shared a bedroom with another friend for a year. It wasn’t fun but it was less than $500 :)

        Reply
        1. Brandy

          We don’t know how old OP is. OP may not be able to swing a roommate, or a place in a less-than-stellar part of town if s/he has kids that need schools, and/or a spouse that makes room shares possible.

          There is also a difference between making $25k as a staffer when you’re just out of college because you KNOW it will be good for your next job and/or grad school..and taking a job that you expect to be in for several years at an amount that you know is below your “make ends meet” goal.

          (FWIW, I totally agree with your more broad point for the younger crowd–I worked in publically funded research for the first three years out of college…I made $27k (and, the job required a car!), which was riches compared to my newspaper reporter roommate, who made $22k. We worked in Boston. If we were married/domestic partners, we would have qualified for low-income housing!! Instead, we lived out in the burbs, then in the city and shared 1 bedroom in a 3 bedroom apartment. I still managed to put a little $ away for retirement during that time…then went to grad school and never looked back!)

          Reply
          1. VintageLydia

            Yup, which is why I suggested the end of the commuter rail (VRE for Virginia, MARC for Maryland.) I rent my three bedroom townhome for just under $1800 a month. It would easily be over $2K in Fairfax County. Where I’m from (still in VA, but different area entirely) rent would probably still be over $1500 for what I have, and there are much cheaper options. Prince William County schools aren’t bad. Not as good as Fairfax County, but few systems in the country are better than Fairfax.

            Reply
            1. LPBB

              Depending on the OP’s tolerance and/or ability to do a long public transit commute, Baltimore is always an option too. It’s about an hour from Penn Station to Union Station in DC on the MARC and a lot of people do it.

              Baltimore is also a small city (there’s a reason natives call it Smalltimore!), but still has a lot of great cultural resources and has a lower cost of living than DC, although that’s been rising a little too rapidly for my chronically underemployed self.

              Reply
    2. VictoriaHR

      Agreed. I grew up in Manassas/Chantilly and DC was always an hour commute’s away if you’re driving, less if taking the Metro. McLean, Fairfax, Ashburn, all good choices.

      Reply
      1. Rana

        I’d recommend against any commute that requires extensive driving in that area, based on what I saw when I lived in Virginia. Nasty traffic, unpredictable driving “body language”, and poorly designed freeway systems. (And I say this as someone who grew up in the SF Bay Area, went to school in Southern California, currently live in Chicago, and have family in Boston. DC area traffic is BAD.)

        Reply
    3. Cat

      Yes, DC is very expensive . Suburban MD and especially VA can be too so really plan your budget before you decide to move to the metro area.

      Reply
    4. Anonymoose

      As a Charlottesville native, I thought I’d offer you my .02. Several years ago, Cville was a great town, but it has exploded. All good reasons — it’s absolutely beautiful, there’s a wonderful university, there’s a great local vibe (local restaurants, local music and arts scene, local retail, etc.). It is extremely crowded now — last time I was “home” I couldn’t believe how difficult and time-consuming it was to get around town. Trips that used to take 10 minutes now ate more than 30. Cville attracts a lot of tourists, and there are cars everywhere – particularly when UVa is in session during the academic year (at which time you also get to enjoy being looked down upon by thousands of spoiled rotten Wahoos – but I digress). It’s a shame, and something you should keep in mind.

      Also, all of that great stuff doesn’t come cheap – the COL in Cville is nothing to sneeze at. Yes, it’s less than living in DC, but still, home ownership in the city limits (and in the surrounding countrysides, for that matter) is very expensive, and apartments certainly aren’t cheap, either.

      Furthermore, you may want to consider future employment, should your new job not pan out or you simply wish to move on. As I said, it’s a university town, and Cville is jam packed with people who are sporting graduate degrees. This is your competition. I personally found it very daunting (and difficult) to jobhunt in a town that often required said graduate degrees (because they were readily available). Salaries, IMO, were low. Weigh all of this against your perceived future potential in a bigger pond like DC.

      Finally, there is an annoying pretension to Cville that is undeniable, what with Mr. Jefferson’s Academical Village, and bow ties with flip flops, and horse races (after which many of the aforementioned spoiled Wahoos leave acres of garbage and drive drunk), etc. It can be but often is not a down-to-earth town, and trust me, that rich southerner crap wears thin. (That said, I sincerely doubt DC has a shortage of pretension – lol.)

      When I left Cville for a major Texas city, I went from $12/hr to $15 overnight. My COL dropped – my apartment was $300/month LESS and was significantly nicer. I now make close to $30/hr, and I promise you, that would have never happened for me at home.

      It’s easy to get stars in your eyes in Charlottesville, if for no other reason that how stunning it is to look at, what with the Blue Ridge and the fall foliage. Every time I go home, my heart aches and I want to move back (especially after a trip to Bodos). But it really isn’t an easy town to make it in, and you need to make sure you have a clear picture of what may be awaiting you there.

      Disclaimer: While I am sitting here bagging on my hometown, I did and do think it’s a great place to live (but perhaps now it is better to simply visit). Also, while I lived in Cville for 20+ years, I have not lived there in close to 10, so my experiences and perspectives WRT to the job market may be dated and no longer relevant.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous_J

        The area around Cville is also Wine Country, and THAT doesn’t help keep costs down, either. Gorgeous, though!

        Reply
        1. Kiribitz

          Another moved away C’ville native here (20+ there, now almost 15 away). I second pretty much everything Anonymoose said. Especially the part about Bodos! It would take a LOT to make me want to move back there after living elsewhere in the state – but perhaps that’s because I knew it when?

          That said, the cities to the west like Staunton & Waynesboro still seem to have reasonable COL’s and the commute shouldn’t be too bad depending on where the office is located in the C’ville area.

          Reply
      2. MNT

        Thanks for all your input–all things to consider when deciding! Background: I am single, but have two cats and am near 30 (yes yes, cat lady). I did the roommate thing during college and graduate school, and I’m honestly exhausted by the prospect of having to do that again. Sounds like Cville is expensive, also, which is a bummer… but I will definitely check out all your suggestions!

        Reply
        1. Anonymoose

          MNT, I suggest you unofficially jobhunt in Cville – look around, see what’s out there, what employers are looking for, what salaries they’re paying (if they tell you). See what the pool looks like. Also, go ahead and hunt for rentals – see what things cost. It may be things are much on par with wherever it is that you’re living now. As I said, I moved away in 2003, so I’m not a current resident and may not have a clue what things are like there now. A cursory look tells me you should expect to spend -/+ $1k a month for a 1 bedroom in a nicer place.

          Reply
          1. Cat

            That’s half of what you’d pay in D.C., though; if the company is paying the same in each place, she’d come out way ahead in Cville.

            Reply
            1. Laura L

              Eh, it depends. If you’re lucky, you can find studios (and the occasional 1-bed) in DC for $10oo to $1200. The average price is generally higher than that, but those types of rents can be found (I’ve been paying in that range since I moved to DC two years ago).

              Also, to follow up on the graduate degrees in Charlottesville thing: You’ll have the same competition in DC. I believe DC is the most educated city in the country.

              Reply
  13. Cat

    Regarding the last question, this has happened to me before. I had an interview with a company, they told me to call back in a week or so to check on the hiring process so I did. They said their staffing specialist had some questions for me, I left a message on her answering machine and I never heard from them again. I guess they were just disorganized xD

    Reply
  14. WWWONKA

    #3 I have an issue with Linkedin due to they want you to “upgrade” to get to the “next level of service. Without the upgrade I do not think you can do some necessary things.

    Reply
    1. Anony1234

      I agree. If you want to do anything, including just viewing someone’s full profile or find out who was looking at your profile, you have to upgrade. And it’s not a one-time fee either – it’s monthly. I was just looking at that yesterday.

      Reply
      1. Jen in RO

        To see who have viewed your profile you just need to enable something (I think it’s called Profile Stats) – just note that in this case, others will see your name too if you view their profiles.

        Reply
        1. Judy

          But you can only see 5 people who have viewed your profile, you have to pay to see everyone who has viewed your profile. And when you do a search, you can only get 100? results, unless you pay.

          Reply
          1. CoffeeLover

            I don’t understand how people use this aspect of linkedin in the job hunt. If an employer views your profile, but doesn’t contact you, then how does it help you to know that they looked?

            Reply
            1. Felicia

              Agree, usually when I see that a hiring manager viewed my profile, but they don’t contact me, it makes it worse because I can’t help but get my hopes up. But I have the free version and I can usually see who viewed my profile, their name only. I also don’t like when you apply to a job on LinkedIn and it tells you your application has been viewed (because even though it’s silly, I can’t help but get my hopes up either).

              Jobs I’m really interested in are often posted on LinkedIn, and jobs I’ve applied to there often lead to interviews so that’s what I use the free version for. I don’t feel that I need the paid account, and I don’t personally know anyone who has it.

              Reply
    2. Evan (now graduated)

      Yes, I’ve gotten those ads. However, I’ve kept my profile on the standard free level, and I’ve still gotten contacts from several recruiters who’ve viewed it. (Of course, that was while I was in my last two years of college; it might be different for people at other points in their career.) The pay service might not be worth it, but don’t let that discourage you from keeping up a free profile.

      Reply
      1. WWWONKA

        Anything that may be free is limited. There are so many other sites such as Indeed, Careerbuilder, and Monster that will find you the same job.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Well, LinkedIn’s advantage isn’t as a job board like those other sites. It’s that you can utilize your contacts in ways that would otherwise be very hard to do (finding connections to companies you want to work at, etc).

          Reply
          1. WWWONKA

            I would be a little apprehensive if somebody I do not know contacted me about a job or for company information.

            Reply
          2. HR lady

            I’m surprised by all of the negativity towards LinkedIn in this comment thread. I think LinkedIn is great. I’ve never considered paying for the add-ons, and I can do everything I want to do. You are able to see someone’s full profile without paying anything (that’s assuming you’re linked to them, or they’ve made their full profile visible. It doesn’t really seem appropriate to see a full profile if you’re not linked to them and they want to maintain their privacy).

            Being on LinkedIn is crucial for job seekers. Definitely not the same as Indeed, Monster, etc.

            Reply
            1. WWWONKA

              Being linked to them is the important part. How is being on Linkedin so crucial? I don’t see it. Is it like Yelp and just a popularity contest to see how many followers or links you can obtain?

              Reply
              1. hawkorhandsaw

                I”ve found linkedin to be incredibly helpful in my last few job hunts. I work in a fairly specialized field and recruiters use linkedin to find qualified candidates.

                I get at least 1 or 2 emails from recruiters each week because they found me on linkedin

                Reply
                1. WWWONKA

                  I could see the benefit if you are in a specialized field, but not for a field where they would post a job and wait for the resumes to flow in.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Nope, it’s helpful in any field because once you have an interview (or apply for a job), you can use LinkedIn to see if you have contacts in those companies (or formerly in those companies) or whether their contacts do.

              2. Anonymous_J

                For one thing it gives you a way to put yourself out there without having to expose your Facebook profile. You can be just social enough but keep it professional.

                I use LinkedIn basic, and I love it!

                Reply
              3. Rana

                I use it as an online resume, messaging service, and self-updating address book of contacts and references. I also find it useful to have at least one social media platform that’s dedicated solely to my professional persona (unlike, say, Facebook or Twitter).

                It’s like most social media: it has its quirks, but most of its value – or lack thereof – depends on how well you understand it and how you use it. No social media site is the end-all and be-all of one’s life, just as no social media site is the most evil thing ever.

                They’re tools. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t use it.

                Reply
  15. Julie

    #2 appears to be the result of a second-language English speaker. Now, that’s no excuse to let emails go out with poor writing, especially to candidates, but it does mean that the candidate might be receptive to help, so that they can improve their skills. I know that I personally cringe whenever I have to send out French emails (I work in Quebec). I use Google Translate and correct the errors that I see, but I’m sure there are more errors embedded in there that I miss. Has anyone suggested that this temp might want to take some English classes on her own time?

    Reply
      1. doreen

        I don’t think it’s a non-native English speaker. I often receive emails from someone who makes similar mistakes, most commonly leaving off the “ed” and typing “cancel” instead of “cancelled”, for example. She’s a native English speaker but when she speaks, you don’t really hear that “ed” either. I suspect it’s a dialect difference that’s coming through in her writing.

        Reply
        1. HR lady

          I agree with Doreen. I’ve seen this kind of writing from my colleagues, although it’s not all in one email like this – maybe once a month they’ll write “I shred the papers yesterday” rather than “I shredded the papers.” They are native English speakers but I wonder if it’s because they’re from the south and they’re writing the way they speak.

          Reply
          1. Southern

            Hm, as a native of the South, I don’t think leaving off “ed” is a Southern thing in written or spoken English.

            I have a colleague who has done quite well for herself (in the library world actually) who says things like, “It needs painted” instead of “It needs painting.” It’s something she’s been corrected on by her previous boss and keeps on doing anyway. I like her, but this grates on me in a profession where we are so concerned with literacy.

            Reply
            1. Zed

              That’s a grammatical construction that is VERY common in Pennsylvania. Especially in the central and Western parts of the state it would not be regarded as incorrect.

              Reply
              1. LPBB

                My boyfriend is from Harrisburg, PA and uses that construction all the time. It threw me for a loop the first time he said it and then he didn’t understand why when I tried to explain it to him.

                Reply
            2. HR lady

              Hmmm… I guess I was just being generous by attributing the missing “ed”s to being from the South. Unfortunately it sounds very uneducated to my ear (but these are people with college degrees!).

              Reply
        2. bo bessi

          Agreed. The Big Boss at my company mixes up words in email all the time, and he’s a native speaker. My favorite was when he needed to reschedule a meeting and apologized for the “incontinence.”

          Reply
          1. Angie

            I love it! I had someone send me something where they wanted to say that he was eager to “transcend” and instead said he was eager to “transgender”. Sometimes spell check and auto-correct are not your friends!

            Reply
            1. Wendy

              One of my fave autocorrects was when one of my staff tried to email me that he was having sporadic computer problems. It came out as “spermatic.” He was about a million shades of beet red!

              Reply
    1. OP #2

      I’m the OP for the second question. I have only met this temp once, as she works across our campus, and from our brief encounter, English may not be her first language, but she speaks very well and only has a slight accent. Her writing however, as we have seen, is terrible and I’m very surprised the temp agency hasn’t been alerted to this issue. I’m sure our HR manager has seen evidence of the issue as well, but sometimes this person isn’t the quickest to resolve an issue (whole other story) so I’m hoping the director or assistant director of my department will speak to her directly about her temp. It’s just awful. I cringe when I get her emails

      Reply
      1. The IT Manager

        She’s a temp – temporary worker/replacement. Someone (the temp or her company) probably misrepresented her skill level to the college or the college didn’t stress enough that the position required good writing skills when they contacted the temp company.

        Reply
        1. AnonAgain

          I work in the education field and most here are state employees. They pass a generalized test and are in pretty much for life unless they commit a heinous crime.

          Reply
          1. AnonAgain

            Sorry – meant to add: You wouldn’t believe the grammatical mistakes – both written and spoken – that I encounter on a daily basis.

            Reply
            1. Chinook

              “Bad grammar is a heinous crime :)”

              It should be punished with classes full of worksheets, spelling tests and etymology lessons (the study of words – latin roots and suffixes/prefixes go a long way in English). It may be boring but I doubt that any of my junior high classmates who had Mr. Rochford would ever cause this many grammar errors in one email.

              Reply
        2. Chinook

          Now that I think of it, while my temp agencies all had a battery of skill tests to take regarding computer programs, there was never one that actually asked me to write something on my own. That added with the fact that I tately had to submit cover letters means that I could have horrible writing skills and it would never have been caught during the intake process, especially if I am well spoken.

          Reply
          1. AnonAgain

            While our hiring process across the college doesn’t require it, I’ve often thought an on the spot writing sample should be part of the hiring process.

            Reply
            1. Anonymous

              We do require one. At the end of the interview, the candidate is given a written question to answer in 15 minutes. The content is really secondary to the grasp for written communication.

              Reply
  16. Anonymous

    #2 – Sounds like a friend of mine. But that’s because she texts everything and emails from her Iphone. Personal stuff that looks like someone typed it with their feet is one thing, but if it’s business it just looks sloppy and unprofessional. The OP needs to speak up because it does reflect poorly on the department.

    Reply
  17. VictoriaHR

    The “ty” and “teen” thing is a pet peeve of mine actually. Comes from when I used to work in a call center and people would rattle off their phone numbers in really weird ways, like “three-one-oh, twenty-two-seven, eleventy-eighteen.” I’m like “eighty?” “No, eighteen!!!” Blarg. Just say “one eight,” especially on the phone.

    Reply
      1. VictoriaHR

        Most definitely. Many people decide how they want to say their number, and they say it that way every time. My dad’s phone number ended in 2001 and he would say “XXX-XXX-Space Odyssey.” *rolling eyes and smiling at Dad*

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          My own personal oddity with my phone number … area code and phone # both have a 0 in them, but I’ll say oh for the first one, and zero for the 2nd … “four oh seven, X-X-X, zero X-X-X”

          Reply
      2. Escritora

        Maybe they were fans of Tolkien. I believe the Old Took in the Fellowship of the Ring celebrated an “Eleventy-first” birthday, i.e., he was 111. On what would have been Tolkien’s 111 birthday, people made a point of putting it that way when referring to it.

        Otherwise, yeah, it’s weird.

        Reply
        1. Cat

          Heh, Bilbo actually celebrated that at the beginning of Lord of the Rings. (I know this because I’m a huge dork.)

          Reply
      3. Jen

        Yes!!!!11!1!111!!! Eleventy!!11!! (that nickname for when someone is over-eager and types 1 in place of ! in a long string of !!!)

        Reply
    1. LPBB

      I had one customer who started reading me her credit card number as if each block of digits was a real number, ie saying “4 thousand 2 hundred and 38″ for 4238. I stopped her pretty quickly because there was no way my brain was going to parse it quickly enough.

      Reply
      1. Rana

        Oof. That would kill me. I have trouble parsing numbers (and the spelling of names) unless they are dropped out slowly, one digit at a time, with enough time for me to write it down before the next one (otherwise I end up transposing them).

        You can imagine how careful I am when reading numbers on the phone to someone else. ;)

        Reply
  18. nyxalinth

    #4 is hard working in call centers. But I just state stuff about being recognized for providing high quality service and stuff like that as best I can.

    Reply
  19. Cheryl Becker

    Alison, thought you’d like to know that the URL you refer to when you say “But you do need to explain what made you great at previous jobs. If you can’t, how do you expect a hiring manager to figure out why they should hire you over roughly similar candidates? More on this here.” doesn’t work. (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2009/06/29/the-no-1-question-your-resume-should-answer) I get a “sorry not found” message from US News and World Report. Thanks!!

    Reply
  20. Chinook

    #3 – unfortunately, there are a few companies that do require you to pay to use their services while job hunting (and Linked In is luckily not one of them). The only legit ones I have ever used were ones I was directed to by prospective employers as the only way to apply to jobs in my field (the days of dropping a resume at the local school to be a subsitute teacher are long gone). It is frustrating but atleast you don’t have to pay until you physically apply for a position – I can monitor job openings and input my job applicatin (searchable by prospective employers) for free and only had to pay per application (or a higher fee for a year long membership).

    I understand that the employers are outsourcing part of the HR responsibility but it bites that we, the unemployed, are paying for their cost of doign business. But, since even the giant school boards are doing this and there is currently a glut of experienced teachers, it is a buyers market and we either pay for the honour of jumping through the hoops or change careers. *sigh*

    Reply
      1. Angie

        I don’t know which particular companies do this, but I have had candidates ask me if they need to pay to apply. I thought that this was really strange, but some candidates are telling me that they have encountered this before.

        Reply
      2. Chinook

        DH had to pay to apply for police forces in Ontario as well as a small fee for the RCMP (which they atleast called a “testing fee”). With both the police and teaching application fees, atleast you were able to only have to enter the information once and know that it was available to all your potential employers. Then, when you saw a posting you wanted, you just added a cover letter, answer a few job specific questions and then they have everything they needed for an application. Considering this included more than your average application (i.e. criminal background checks and other personal information), it felt more secure than doing this through Monster. For both of us, though, it meant we weren’t going to casually apply for jobs but, instead, make sure we made it worth our money and “paper the province” with applications.

        Reply
        1. Chinook

          I just realized that both fields that we pay to apply for our funded by the province. Maybe the organizations feel that it is better to save taxpayer money by downloading the cost of applying to the applicants?

          Reply
        2. Elle-p

          My husband had to do the same when applying for firefighting jobs in Canada. Although, typically there wasn’t a fee associated with the initial application — you only had to pay if they advanced you to the testing stage. I understand the rationale for it, but since some departments had multiple testing stages that cost upwards of $200 each I hated that it had the potential to disqualify excellent candidates who simply couldn’t afford the up-front expenditure.

          Reply
      3. Anonymous

        ARTSEARCH is a subscription-only jobs board for the performing arts. Before the internet, it was a printed bulletin that came out, an option that is still available. There are free sites for the industry, but this one is still considered THE source by many.

        Reply
  21. Angie

    #7) I was wondering the same thing from an employer’s perspective. Would candidates rather not get the auto reply letting them know that their resume made it through? I don’t want to do something that candidates find offensive or rude. Being on the other side, I remember getting the auto replies sometimes and other times nothing at all. I don’t know that it made a difference to me either way. Also, does the wording matter? Would a basic “Your application has been received ” be better than something with more details about our interviewing process and timeline? I am just curious if anyone has any feedback. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      If it’s a choice between auto-reply or no reply at all, auto-reply is always better.

      I’d be wary about giving details about timeline, because those so often change. But if you’re sure it’ll stay correct, then that’s great to do.

      Reply
      1. Angie

        Good point on the timelines. Often times they do change. I am going to stick with auto-reply because it looks like most of the comments on here are for the confirmation e-mail as opposed to hearing nothing at all.

        Reply
  22. Job seeker

    I really do not mind auto-reply. I kinda appreciate the fact knowing my application has been received. At one place I would love to work they receive all applications as submitted. You status will say Submitted. If someone in HR goes into and reviews your application the status changes to Accepted. If no-one looks at your application the status remains Submitted.

    I just had my application status change yesterday to Accepted for a position I applied for Friday. I haven’t heard anything though. I have applied to this company for so long and many times my application has stayed Submitted. Several times lately, the status has changed to Accepted. Guess I will just keep hoping.

    Reply
  23. Question 1

    I asked question #1, and HR just got back to me. They were really nice about the whole situation and answered my question, and it turns out I had the right impression all along. That being said, I answered the question differently just to play things safe (it’s long story involving job titles and the definition of relevant experience). After that, they let me resend my application so that I wouldn’t be automatically removed from the search. So, in some cases, I guess it really does help to ask if you’re unsure. Good luck everyone.

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  24. Cassie

    #2: I think the poor writing should definitely be brought up. Yes, the temp may not be a native English speaker, but even if she is, the emails need to be proofread. People seem to be so unwilling to let others proofread their work, but I think it’s essential when you are sending out important written communication.

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