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Monday, August 13, 2012

A Rejected Jobseeker Sends The Padres The Best Letter Ever

Hi [Redacted],

I wanted to thank you for reaching out to me when thinking of ways to meet your quota for the Sports Sales Combine.

After careful review I must decline. I realize I may be burning a bridge here, but in the spirit of reciprocity, I would like to extend you a counter-offer to suck my dick. Clearly, I don’t have one of these, so my offer makes about as much sense as yours. But for the price you’re charging to attend the event, I’m sure I would have no problem borrowing one.

Managers like you have found this to be the most authentic training available. Real, hands-on experience getting you on your way to perfecting the techniques you will need to climb the corporate ladder. In these tough economic times, it’s always good to widen your skill set.

Let’s talk about why I wasn’t a good fit with your organization. Was it my extensive education that made me less of a fit, that now paying $500 will allow me to overcome? My graduate work in sports commerce? Being a law student, working toward becoming an agent? Was it my past experience overseeing the execution of national and international events? Wait, I know, maybe it was my previous internship with Major League Soccer, and that I actually got my “start” in professional sports at the age of 15 when I volunteered at a minor league ballpark in my hometown. And given all that, I chose to apply with the Padres, at least 30 times since moving to San Diego. Persevering through countless anonymous email rejections, I continued to submit my resume despite never even being granted the courtesy of a face-to-face interview. All for the joy of making $30K a year. Maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m not the best fit for your company. But here’s a nice fit, my foot in your ass.

All the best,

Taylor

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 13, 2012 at 02:03 PM | 171 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: careers in baseball, job applicants, padres

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   101. phredbird Posted: August 14, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4207943)
His experience was good, but he had a few holes... nothing he couldn't pick up in a few months on the job though. Then another candidate came in with a background perfectly tailored to what we needed. She got the job, but I don't think we wasted the other guy's time. He was a legit candidate who could have wound up with the job if the other candidate had done worse in her interviews.


this. i'm going to be giving the bad news to several people who could have filled the job no matter who makes the final cut.
   102. Swoboda is freedom Posted: August 14, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4207948)
My worst job interview story

I interviewed with a company twice. I was then told I needed to meet with the VP of the unit. He was on vacation in Paris, so I agreed to meet him there. I lived in London at the time, so no big deal. I made a weekend day trip out of it.

He then had me fly to Los Angeles where I met with several other potential co workers, plus one of the heads of the company (it was a media company). Still ok, got to visit with my brother who lived in LA.

So after 4 interviews in London, Paris, and LA, I never heard back. I called and emailed several times, but not replay. I started to get mad, but I really wanted to know why, as I was thinking they might have heard a false rumor about me, or something that one of my references might have said. Nothing.

10 years later, I am still waiting for a reply.
   103. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 14, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4207954)
I lived in London at the time, so no big deal. I made a weekend day trip out of it.

He then had me fly to Los Angeles where I met with several other potential co workers, plus one of the heads of the company (it was a media company). Still ok, got to visit with my brother who lived in LA.


I was thinking of expanding my job search to out of my metro area. Do employers tend to not want to hire out of towners? Do they usually pick up the expense if they fly you in? The only job I have ever gotten I was flown out and they hired me on the spot, but I don't know how typical this is (and this was before the recession).
   104. Rennie's Tenet Posted: August 14, 2012 at 11:38 AM (#4207966)
Over the course of the next 4-6 weeks I would send multiple e-mails and phone calls to this partner/firm without ever receiving so much as a “I know you reached out to me, I’m busy will get back to you when I can” regarding my employment status. Almost a year later and I still haven’t even received as much as a form rejection letter. Thankfully, I’ve found steady employment since, but that experience still pisses me off. Whenever I run into the associate who initially recommended me he still apologizes for the whole thing.


It could be that your friend the associate was actually expected to let you know. I've had people I've recommended be turned down, and then been asked by our HR people if I wanted to carry the news.

To go back to the "job fair" the lady was invited to attend, I work for a firm that's actually added people in the last few years. I don't know of anyone who's joined us without some sort of personal entree. It's difficult for me to imagine that attending a fair of that sort would be a significant assist in finding a job right now.
   105. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: August 14, 2012 at 11:45 AM (#4207974)
It could be that your friend the associate was actually expected to let you know. I've had people I've recommended be turned down, and then been asked by our HR people if I wanted to carry the news.

That would make him a committed/good liar.
   106. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: August 14, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4207976)
Do employers tend to not want to hire out of towners? Do they usually pick up the expense if they fly you in?


I don't know about the first part, but in talking with several friends lately, companies are not paying for people to fly in for interviews. They have conducted interviews via Skype, though. These are mostly early-to-mid career folks, and not high-level execs though.
   107. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 14, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4207977)
I've had people I've recommended be turned down, and then been asked by our HR people if I wanted to carry the news.


I called one hiring manager several weeks after meeting with her to ask where the process was. She said, "Oh, I thought HR had called you... we hired someone else." I wonder if she really thought HR had made the call, or just assumed she didn't have to do it herself.
   108. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 14, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4207981)
We always pay to fly people in if they come from out of town on an interview. I wouldn't trust a company that isn't willing to spend the money on an applicant. The cost of a flight plus a hotel and incidental travel (cabs to/from office, etc...) should be under $1,000, a minimal expense compared to the assorted expenses associated with hiring a qualified candidate. If they're worth an interview, they're worth a few bucks.

What drives me nuts at my company is the pansies I work with. They never want to call and tell someone they are being turned down. My feeling is if the person has taken the time to interview then common courtesy dictates you give them a firm yes/no so they can get on with their lives. Stories like Swoboda's piss me off.
   109. Lassus Posted: August 14, 2012 at 12:21 PM (#4208000)
What drives me nuts at my company is the pansies I work with. They never want to call and tell someone they are being turned down.

Not just your company. Universal.
   110. Guapo Posted: August 14, 2012 at 12:21 PM (#4208001)
My worst experience:

I interviewed at a place with a number of people, including "Smith". A couple of days later, I get a call from Smith's secretary inviting me to come back for a second interview, schedule a date, set up travel arrangements, etc.

A couple of days later, Smith calls me and leaves me a voicemail saying that "I must have misunderstood the secretary"- I wasn't actually being called back and they were going in another direction.

I get what actually happened- the secretary ###### up pretty significantly and called the wrong person. But for Smith to leave me a voicemail and try and act like it was MY error- that just compounded the obnoxiousness.

Man, that was 14 years ago and I'm clearly not over it.
   111. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: August 14, 2012 at 12:29 PM (#4208007)
We always pay to fly people in if they come from out of town on an interview. I wouldn't trust a company that isn't willing to spend the money on an applicant.
I was a local television news producer about ten years ago, and a network affiliate in a decent-sized market (about the size of Tucson or Wichita, but neither of those two) flew me in and put me up in the nicest hotel in town for an interview to produce their noon newscast. They spent a couple of days with me, spent a nice chunk of money taking me out for meals, and generally spared no expense. It was really impressive.

And then they offered me the job...for something like $26,000 a year. I tried not to laugh, then politely declined.

Spending the money to interview qualified applicants is great, but sometimes it's the only thing they're willing to spend money on.
   112. Tripon Posted: August 14, 2012 at 12:39 PM (#4208016)
How do you guys feel about cover letters? Every time I write one or revise it, I think I sound like such a toolbag.
   113. dlf Posted: August 14, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4208024)
Due to a change in our global strategy, our business unit is closing one of its off-shore locations. I got the pleasure of flying 10,000 miles to meet with 300+ people to tell them that they were being laid off. That was a horrible trip.

This came up about a week ago when a friend at my former newspaper (here in Montgomery) told me that a guy from my newspaper before that (in Arkansas) had interviewed for the Auburn beat & didn't even bother to tuck in his shirt.


He was just trying to dress appropriately for the intended audience. On the Plains, the shirt is optional.
   114. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 14, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4208025)
How do you guys feel about cover letters? Every time I write one or revise it, I think I sound like such a toolbag.


I could be wrong, but my sense is that they're worthless, and no one reads them, especially for online applications. What HR people have told me is that online hiring is done with software that scans resumes for keywords that the HR people think are significant for the job. If you don't have those keywords, you're out of luck. If you do, then a human might actually end up reading your resume, but they'll focus much more on that than on a cover letter.

Overall, my impression of the job-hunting process (which is now thankfully over for me) is that unless you already know someone at the firm, it's an incredible longshot that you'll get the job.
   115. PreservedFish Posted: August 14, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4208027)
#112 - I feel exactly the same, but when actually reviewing applicants and reading their cover letters, I realize that I spend about 20 seconds on each letter, and I forgive the applicants their clumsy prose, the criminal overuse of buzzwords (how many initiatives can one man spearhead?), etc. I feel like it's a terrible language that everyone is forced to use, but everyone recognizes how terrible it is.

But I'm curious to hear the thoughts of the people on this site with more experience reading applications than I do.
   116. PepTech Posted: August 14, 2012 at 12:50 PM (#4208028)
i have interviewed about a dozen applicants for the opening in my dept., and have encouraged all of them to follow up with a phone call within the week.

Many moons ago I was young and rootless and decided to go teach English in Japan. There were about 10,000 other young, rootless people doing the same thing in Tokyo at the time and you'd see them all both in the cheap hostels we stayed in and in every interviewing lobby. Or so it seemed.

I decided I was sick of the big city and started concentrating on the ads that were far away (based on their area code). I set up an interview with one such distant school on a Saturday in a hotel near the bullet train station (in Tokyo). The interviewer was the president of the small school, and she'd taken three hours to get to the big city in the morning, was going to interview all day in the lobby, and go home that night. They had hired a teacher from the States over the phone who simply hadn't shown up in Japan, so their need was urgent. I interviewed, and the timeslot before and after my own were "regulars" on the interview beat.

The hostel I was staying in (part of the '64 Olympic Village) was the type that closed completely from something like 10AM-4PM. You could leave your belongings safely behind, but you couldn't get in to the building during the afternoon. So at around 9AM (Sunday morning) I got up the courage and made a callback, and quite clearly woke up the interviewer. Terror nearly killed me on the spot, but I stuck with it and gave her my name and asked if she'd made a decision. She said yes, she chose me, and could I get to the train station by 11 because they wanted to pick me up at the other end at 2:00 and I would start the next day. I threw my stuff in my duffel, checked out, and got a taxi.

A year later I renewed my contract and she told the same story, with the addendum that she had fallen asleep in exhaustion on the train home while reviewing the applicants, and when she got back had simply decided to hire the first person who called her in the morning. She'd had no idea which one I was until I got off the train.

   117. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 14, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4208030)
How do you guys feel about cover letters? Every time I write one or revise it, I think I sound like such a toolbag.


I basically ignore them for many of the reasons Tom lays out in 114. It's not that they are bad, they just don't add anything. I want to see what training and experience you have, if you have demonstrated some commitment to jobs or bounce from place to place and if you have a background that fits with the company I work for.

That said I like to SEE a cover letter. That you cared enough to include a cover letter demonstrates to me an understanding that sometimes meaningless B.S. is part of the working world. It's like spelling errors in the resume. That you fat-fingered something isn't a big deal, that you didn't take the 3 seconds it takes to press "F7" and let Microsoft Word run a spell check for you tells me you aren't paying attention to details.
   118. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 14, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4208031)

How do you guys feel about cover letters? Every time I write one or revise it, I think I sound like such a toolbag.


Yea, I've heard the keyword thing too. I try to incorporate important words listed in the qualifications section of the job ad. I also use it to give them an idea of who I am without regurgitating the resume - maybe try to show them my ambition and how I can help them. I don't know, its really hard to talk about myself, particularly since my career accomplishments are rather light. But I'm guessing they're much like college admission essays, just glossed over and not a factor.

I hate rustling up friends, past colleagues, and even old college professors every time I need to list references. Is this a trend? I don't seem to recall having to list references quite this often before.
   119. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: August 14, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4208035)
I could be wrong, but my sense is that they're worthless, and no one reads them, especially for online applications. What HR people have told me is that online hiring is done with software that scans resumes for keywords that the HR people think are significant for the job. If you don't have those keywords, you're out of luck. If you do, then a human might actually end up reading your resume, but they'll focus much more on that than on a cover letter.

I could also be wrong but speaking from personal experience, a good cover letter threw open doors for me in terms of securing interviews. I was out of work for nearly a year, and hustling my resume to every opening related to my experience I could find. Then I started taking the time to craft my cover letter in accordance to the description and duties of the position, instead of the generic-sounding one I'd been pushing all along.

The job entails doing X? Well, I'm perfect for you because I did X at my last position and came up with better ways of doing it than was previously being done. The position requires I do Y? Well, I had very similar responsibilities doing Z, and my experience will translate seamlessly.

It also helps to eliminate the first paragraph of your cover letter. Just skip the "Hello I am applying to your position that I saw online and I'm sure I am a good fit because I am a good worker who works real good" and jump right into how you're awesome for the position. If someone DOES actually read your cover letter, it helps tremendously that it doesn't start like every other cover letter they've been reading all day.

Once I started doing that, I landed three in-person interviews in a week. At that point in my unemployment, I had enough interview practice to ace them, and landed a job at the one I wanted the most. YMMV of course.
   120. Lassus Posted: August 14, 2012 at 01:06 PM (#4208037)
These responses regarding cover letters make me sad, probably because I put actual care into composing them, and because to my idiot brain they give a greater impression of what kind of person and applicant I am than a rote recitation template that any ####### monkey could do of who's ass they've been kissing to keep themselves eating for the past ten years.
   121. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 14, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4208040)
One thing that might make Lassus feel a bit better; I'm generally hiring for entry-level or near entry-level jobs so I'm smothered in resumes. For example, I have 165 resumes for the job I'm currently hiring for. There is just no way I can read all 165 in detail and give them a fair shake. It becomes a bit of an exercise in triage, look for important stuff and punt the others. When I have hired for more involved roles with greater requirements the number of applicants declines dramatically and a cover letter can be a bit more useful.
   122. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 14, 2012 at 01:13 PM (#4208041)
I hate rustling up friends, past colleagues, and even old college professors every time I need to list references. Is this a trend? I don't seem to recall having to list references quite this often before.


I suspect it's just boilerplate. Every time I've interviewed for a job, I've practically begged the hiring manager to call my references, because I know they all think very highly of me, and I don't believe anyone has ever called them.
   123. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 14, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4208048)
I could also be wrong but speaking from personal experience, a good cover letter threw open doors for me in terms of securing interviews. I was out of work for nearly a year, and hustling my resume to every opening related to my experience I could find. Then I started taking the time to craft my cover letter in accordance to the description and duties of the position, instead of the generic-sounding one I'd been pushing all along.

Following the instructions: always a good idea.
An acquaintance who runs a small law firm likes to have job/intern applicants submit their cover letter as a .pdf - so every applicant that does this demonstrates that they know (1) how to read and follow directions, and (2) how to convert a word-processing document to a .pdf. Both very helpful traits in the practice. Everybody that does NOT do this, just made the hiring decision that much easier.
   124. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: August 14, 2012 at 02:03 PM (#4208077)
I hate rustling up friends, past colleagues, and even old college professors every time I need to list references. Is this a trend? I don't seem to recall having to list references quite this often before.

This. A million times this. That was worse than all the stupid cover letters I had to do.
   125. zonk Posted: August 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4208105)
I like cover letters.

In many cases, I interview against points made in the cover letter more than I do line items on the resume -- especially if it's a well-written cover letter that is tailored specifically for the position.

I conducted one interview earlier this year with someone that clearly did a lot of homework on our company and specifically mentioned a number of products/software he found especially intriguing, and then, tied them in with previous experience. In a couple cases, he was pretty far off the base architecture - but the interview was almost entirely based off his cover letter.

We extended an offer, but simultaneously, he had gotten another offer that was a fair bit better than we could go...
   126. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4208106)
One thing that might make Lassus feel a bit better; I'm generally hiring for entry-level or near entry-level jobs so I'm smothered in resumes. For example, I have 165 resumes for the job I'm currently hiring for. There is just no way I can read all 165 in detail and give them a fair shake. It becomes a bit of an exercise in triage, look for important stuff and punt the others. When I have hired for more involved roles with greater requirements the number of applicants declines dramatically and a cover letter can be a bit more useful.

I've only submitted a resume once in my life, when I was applying for a part-time job at a hardware/housewares store for 12 hours a week in high school (Stebbins-Anderson, for those in Baltimore area). My cover letter stated that I wished to work at Stebbins-Anderson because I wanted the goods and services I could acquire for $65.40 a week, minus taxes, more than I wanted 12 hours of free time. And that I felt that my skills were more valuable to Stebbins-Anderson than $65.40 a week. I'm not good at serious stuff.

I actually did get that job in the end. It was a fun job, mainly because they discovered that they had a part-time employee that knew how to use Unix, meaning that they didn't have to have one full-timer in the office work a 12-9 shift in order to close out the store computers on the nights I worked. So as long as I could close the store, I could pretty much do whatever I want - wander off to Italian Garden's or Peerce's-to-Go to get dinner, help myself to hardware to make small implements of destruction (among things I made were a small trebuchet and a staple gun modification in which I could shoot staples all the way across the store), or one time, construct a gallows and hold mock trials for the mannequin in the patio department.
   127.     Hey Gurl Posted: August 14, 2012 at 03:09 PM (#4208144)
I am also surprised you were treated like a human being.

Lassus, I am not sure you are one to complain about treating others like human beings, given your incredibly rude and disrespectful behavior in this thread.

. If you end up hiring someone who can't program, it means likely neither can you.


Well of course not, you're a manager. I am not a programmer, but the manager who hired me sure as he'll could not do my job, nor would he pretend to. Isn't that the norm? Since I've been in the industry I've never had a manager with much of a technical skillset.
   128. Dan The Mediocre Posted: August 14, 2012 at 03:43 PM (#4208182)
Lassus, I am not sure you are one to complain about treating others like human beings, given your incredibly rude and disrespectful behavior in this thread.


Did Lassus have posts that are deleted?
   129. Lassus Posted: August 14, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4208190)
Lassus, I am not sure you are one to complain about treating others like human beings, given your incredibly rude and disrespectful behavior in this thread.

Pardon? I'll be happy to apoligize for any incredibly rude and disrespectful behavior, if it can be pointed out to me.
   130. billyshears Posted: August 14, 2012 at 03:58 PM (#4208197)
Back when I was in law school, I interviewed with a particular firm during on-campus interview week. At the end of the interview, the partner who interviewed me gave me the number of the recruiting manager and told me to call her to schedule a callback interview. So I do this, and the callback interview goes wonderfully to the point where the senior partner on the hiring committee with whom I interviewed said something to the effect of "I'm sure you will be receiving an offer from us shortly". Two days later, a rejection letter arrives in the mail. I proceeded to call the recruiting manager to ask "WTF?" In an unusual display of candor, she tells me that my GPA was actually .09 below their GPA cut-off for my law school and that the partner who interviewed me on campus shouldn't have offered me a callback in the first place and that the entire callback interview was a charade as there was never any chance I would receive an offer from the firm in the first place.
   131. asinwreck Posted: August 14, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4208259)
How do you guys feel about cover letters? Every time I write one or revise it, I think I sound like such a toolbag.


Cover letters are useful. Combined with the resume, they let me know if an applicant is prone to puffery, or can concisely respond to the job description. If you can write me a clear, smart cover letter than does not set off my bullshit detector, your application gets more attention.

(If you are profoundly unqualified for the job, the letter will not change that. But in context, a good letter/resume combination understands the requirements for the position.)
   132. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:03 PM (#4208279)
Did Lassus have posts that are deleted?

Doubt it, but I'm out of the loop since I left BTF.
   133. SteveF Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4208318)
My suspicion is that the following is being misinterpreted:

No, if you look at the picture, she's not fat and ugly.

I sincerely do not understand you human beings.


It's open to multiple interpretations. My interpretation was Lassus's incredulity that physical attractiveness was even a part of the discussion. An alternate interpretation might be that Lassus couldn't believe another person could hold the opinion that the applicant was anything but fat or ugly.

But all that's just a guess. I'm an educated man, but I'm afraid I can't speak intelligently about the travel habits of William Santiago.
   134. zonk Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:32 PM (#4208330)
But all that's just a guess. I'm an educated man, but I'm afraid I can't speak intelligently about the travel habits of William Santiago.


YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT I TRIED TO BILK HER OUT OF $500 AFTER REJECTING HER AS A JOB APPLICANT!!!!
   135. hokieneer Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:50 PM (#4208350)
I would never take a personality test, or any other.

When I was a 25 year old engineer I interviewed with a gaming company (while employed at a Mac software company and had shipped some commercial software). The company already had some strikes due to location, and the layout of the office. But after giving me the tour the CEO interviewed me briefly then handed me a "programming test", and offered to let use his office for a half hour to fill it out. I immediately handed the test back to him and told him it wouldn't be necessary.

A week later I accepted a job at Apple.

Saying no to stupid requests can be a positive. First, if a company requires stupid #### like that just to get hired, just imagine what stupid #### they will make you do once you are an employee. BTW: If an HR troll ever asks me to write up a valued subordinate for using foul language in order to give them a promotion, my first response will be pull your head out of your ass before I go up the chain until you and every one who thinks like you in HR is fired.

But more importantly, force them to value you. If you truly had great interviews, then tell them to get off the pot and make a decision. Don't let them use some half baked pseudo science tests to make the decision for them. Every single girl knows the power of playing hard to get, every job seeker should as well.


Similar experience for me. I applied for a software engineer position at an insurance company. Before I was even allowed to interview, I had to fill out this 20-30 min ethics/personality test online. Ok no big deal, did it over a lunch break. I showed up for the interview, and I'm interviewed exclusively by an HR person for over an hour, where she proceeds to review and discuss every single answer on my online test, and wanted detailed explanations for any "less that satisfactory" answers I gave. After that, I was escorted to a workstation to take another standardized test, I believe these were "basic job skills", like adding fractions, computing change, reading line-items from a table, etc. I was honestly ####### floored by the whole experience. 5 minutes into the "test", I stopped and went and told my interviewer that I was no longer interested in the position and left. A week later she called me back wanting to set up another interview with the CIO/IT director, which I declined.

Like you, I couldn't imagine what it would be like to actually work in a bureaucratic, mindless, hell hole like that, if the interview process was that bad.
   136. billyshears Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:55 PM (#4208356)
Apparently, being willing to spare 30 minutes of one's life to take a standardized test in the process of interviewing for a job one might in fact want is the new market inefficiency.
   137. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 14, 2012 at 06:18 PM (#4208376)
Doubt it, but I'm out of the loop since I left BTF.


You're officially gone? That's too bad.
   138. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 14, 2012 at 06:28 PM (#4208387)
Saying no to stupid requests can be a positive. First, if a company requires stupid #### like that just to get hired, just imagine what stupid #### they will make you do once you are an employee. BTW: If an HR troll ever asks me to write up a valued subordinate for using foul language in order to give them a promotion, my first response will be pull your head out of your ass before I go up the chain until you and every one who thinks like you in HR is fired.

But more importantly, force them to value you. If you truly had great interviews, then tell them to get off the pot and make a decision. Don't let them use some half baked pseudo science tests to make the decision for them. Every single girl knows the power of playing hard to get, every job seeker should as well.


No offense, but there are very, very few people on any sort of job market who hold enough power in the process to get away with, well, acting as if they hold any power. Remember that this whole discussion started with a bunch of people saying that any demeaning thing you're asked to do, e.g. pay $500 to go to a job fair, is logical because it gets you from a 1% chance to a 5% chance of getting a job you don't want anyway.
   139. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: August 14, 2012 at 06:38 PM (#4208396)
The only job interview I ever had was at Tower Records, where my lack of prior work experience combined with my having dropped out of college having accumulated 0 credits was impressive enough for me to be hired on the spot.

I don't understand why the chain went out of business.
   140. valuearbitrageur Posted: August 14, 2012 at 07:04 PM (#4208421)
Well of course not, you're a manager. I am not a programmer, but the manager who hired me sure as he'll could not do my job, nor would he pretend to. Isn't that the norm? Since I've been in the industry I've never had a manager with much of a technical skillset.


Sadly, it might be the norm. The problem with hiring someone to do a job you don't understand, is that it's easy to make dumb hires. I'm not immune, I have made that specific mistake before. That might be the hardest part of being a manager, and I think the only option is to do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions, and make sure the candidates and internal folk that will work with the candidates explain what they think the key skills are needed in the role, and how it should be best managed, etc. IE. try to become an amateur expert in the role as quickly as possible.

There is a direct and very strong correlation between the success of software projects and the technical experience/track records of the people managing them. The fact that many organizations ignore this, is one of the big contributing factors to why Software Engineering is the one legged dog of the Engineering disciplines.

No offense, but there are very, very few people on any sort of job market who hold enough power in the process to get away with, well, acting as if they hold any power. Remember that this whole discussion started with a bunch of people saying that any demeaning thing you're asked to do, e.g. pay $500 to go to a job fair, is logical because it gets you from a 1% chance to a 5% chance of getting a job you don't want anyway.No offense, but there are very, very few people on any sort of job market who hold enough power in the process to get away with, well, acting as if they hold any power. Remember that this whole discussion started with a bunch of people saying that any demeaning thing you're asked to do, e.g. pay $500 to go to a job fair, is logical because it gets you from a 1% chance to a 5% chance of getting a job you don't want anyway.


It depends. You certainly have power if you are already employed, or if you have relatively certain employment options. You shouldn't have to jump through hoops for another job, no matter how attractive, if you already have a good job. You should tell the prospective employer, hey, I'm interested, but I'm also happy, and in-demand, so don't waste my time.

If you volunteer to jump through hoops, new hoops will magically appear as your prospective employer takes their own sweet time making a decision, and covering their butts interviewing more and more applicants, given that you've practically told them you'll be waiting by the phone for months on end for them and them only. If you tell them they have a very limited window because you are facing so many awesome opportunities, they will work like dogs to convince you they are way better than your current job and any possible other, and will often shut down the search and make that binding offer lest they lose you.
As for the original situation, it was speculated that paying $500 increased the candidates tiny shot at a job a tiny amount, with no proof offered. I believe that the entire "job fair/training seminar" was a scam, since it's run by a seminar promoter using Padre candidate lists, with no actual job openings being filled at the event. If I'm right, these poor SOBs who went got zero increased opportunities to work in the world of extremely underpaid, overworked Professional Sports Team Entry Level Slave er Sales Associates.
   141. Gaelan Posted: August 14, 2012 at 08:49 PM (#4208463)
The cover letter is the only part of applications that I always read.

   142. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 14, 2012 at 09:06 PM (#4208481)
Why?
   143. Brian White Posted: August 14, 2012 at 10:02 PM (#4208507)
I don't want to get too specific because I post under my real name and I know employers google prospective employees, so I'll just say that last week I was very strongly led to believe I was about to get an offer from a different company, then out of the blue, at the last second, was told the position had been filled. Argh.


Hey, you can always use the same defense I would use if some employer wanted to hold my BBTF postings against me: that's not me, that's someone else with the same (very common) name. But yeah, that doesn't work if you get into specifics about your life, I guess.

I've always wondered about the practice of employers googling recruits and how that works, particularly since I've found myself to be virtually ungooglable. Googling my full name in quotes doesn't yield any results at all, and if you google my name with my middle initial, in quotes, you have to go >10 pages in before you find anything related to me. So that's good, I suppose, but I'd hate to have some HR person stumble on, say, a neo-Nazi blog or whatever, written by some other Brian White, during a web search.
   144. Dan The Mediocre Posted: August 14, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4208509)
but I'd hate to have some HR person stumble on, say, a neo-Nazi blog or whatever, written by some other Brian White, during a web search.


If HR is dumb enough to try getting useful information by googling "Brian White" you probably don't want to work there.
   145. ASmitty Posted: August 14, 2012 at 11:26 PM (#4208539)
Then again, if you are unemployed, you would probably work anywhere, stupid googles or not.
   146. McCoy Posted: August 15, 2012 at 12:06 AM (#4208551)
The HR in my corporation most definitely calls references even when you are transferring from one franchise to another. Not only do they call and talk to the people you are currently working with but for some oddball reason they feel the need to call up some guy you've put on your resume as a reference. I mean I guess it could be a stupidity flag or something but a) the corporation already hired me and b)you've got people within the company that have personal knowledge of me. The tipping point is really going to be some buddy of mine I've known for years or some manager I worked under 10 years ago?


The other absurd thing I see are the cooking tests they require for the chef positions. Really? Your cooks pour eggs out of a bag and 90% of your sales are hamburgers, quesadillas, and pizzas. Secondly because of union rules chefs are not allowed to do production work so whatever masterpiece they present to you will never be made by them again so it's pointless if he is the greatest cook of all time. Plus whatever great ideas he has will never be implemented because they'll cost too much. What matters is how he does managing employees, budgets, and administrative work. Cooking a tuna steak doesn't reveal any of that.
   147. Howie Menckel Posted: August 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4208762)

Since I noticed that there is reference to "best letter" ever, I must submit for nomination the legendary "stink shield" letter to Continental Airlines.

I offer the snopes.com version for authentification purposes and so you don't need a PDF-er. Just scroll down to the letter itself:

http://www.snopes.com/travel/airline/seat29e.asp

   148. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4208809)
Well, in best letters ever related to employment, Aleksey Vayner is the hands down winner. IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING!
   149. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 15, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4208812)
If HR is dumb enough to try getting useful information by googling "Brian White" you probably don't want to work there.


I wonder if Smitty* has ever applied for a job with Levi Strauss?
   150. phredbird Posted: August 15, 2012 at 05:05 PM (#4209076)
tripon, i don't really read the cover letters. invariably, they are just full of the buzzwords and boilerplate described in other posts. (graphic designers generally aren't good letter writers, either). i focus on the resume, but in my case i was especially wanting a certain level of experience in the applicants.
   151. zonk Posted: August 15, 2012 at 05:51 PM (#4209122)

It depends. You certainly have power if you are already employed, or if you have relatively certain employment options. You shouldn't have to jump through hoops for another job, no matter how attractive, if you already have a good job. You should tell the prospective employer, hey, I'm interested, but I'm also happy, and in-demand, so don't waste my time.


This is true... It's also one of the really tough catch-22s for unemployed applicants.

It has come up with candidates I've interviewed - with the HR rep and my own boss casting doubt on certain candidates who applied without already being employed.

In one case, I actually was denied the opportunity to interview a candidate I really liked on paper because he had been jobless for 18 months (at least, the gap between his most recent job and 'now' was 18 months). I thought that was asinine - I pointed out that it was a tough job market, he might have gotten a good severance package and just spent a year backpacking, or maybe he had non-compete severance and had simply worked at a job that was wholly immaterial to the current application, but it was a fight I lost anyway.
   152. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:03 PM (#4209364)
I've received compliments on my cover letters in several different interviews. When I've had to write them, I always make an effort to address the specifics of the job in question while avoiding jargon and buzzwords as much as possible. Essentially, I try to come across as a human being, which seems to be rare enough that interviewers seem to notice and appreciate it.

Of course, I've lost out on the jobs more often than not . . . .
   153. sardonic Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:22 PM (#4209380)
I'd imagine that the chances of a cover letter being read decrease with the number of applicants. I never read them when reviewing candidates, and tend to focus mostly on relevant work experience.
   154. zenbitz Posted: August 16, 2012 at 12:26 AM (#4209423)
I didn't post on this thread for a few days... because I have been hip deep in interviewing job applicants.

I am hiring programmers / web developers. I don't read cover letters. It wouldn't really matter if you wrote a specific one because the job description itself was too vague to let you demonstrate you unique snowflake compatibility with it.

It's actually quite hard to find experienced, up-to-date programmers in the Bay Area what with all the twitterers, apploids, googlists, and facebookdrones. Not to mention hordes of start ups and contract workers. I actually got a recruit pitch sitting on the caltrain dicking around with some new Javascript framework and the guy next to me looked over at my lap top and said "Are you a front end developer, do you want a job?". I replied "If I was a good one, I'd hire myself".

I did come up with a more or less impossible programming exercise to test candidates (well, to do in 4 hours) but it's not a brain dead one. So far the only one who got that far did OK. 2 more will take it by next wednesday.

Worst interview I ever had went like this:
I have been looking for a job in bioinformatics for about 6 months after I got laid off with 1/2 the rest of my division. I get a call from a guy at Tularik, a South SF company just bought by Amgen. He says he read my resume and would I come down to the office for an "informal chat". I say sure.

I get there at 9:00am and a flunky hands me a sheet of paper "Implement the following in Java" (I think it was Quicksort). I am actually not much of a java programmer, so I was pretty screwed at this point. They put me in a room with another candidate. After realize that my Java was not up to snuff, I say screw it and just do it in python (what I was most comfortable with). I spend several hours in this little basement hole hacking away. About halfway through, the other guy who is being interview stands up and says \"#### this" and walks out. I finish up, and go upstairs to meet the department manager.

And now the punch line: He says "I don't have any positions open right now, but I hope that with the merger I should get some more FTEs".

Needless to say, there was never a job for me to get.
   155. Moeball Posted: August 16, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4209861)
I've always been in the Accounting & Finance end of things so at times when I've been hiring people I've looked at all kinds of stuff from Tax specialists to Treasurer-compatible functions.

The thing that really shows you how depressing the economy has become is the number of applicants I've seen who are so desperate they are just throwing darts at the board at this point. They aren't even remotely qualified to interview because they don't have the necessary technical background in Accounting or Finance. For example, lots of them are ex-real estate industry people whose careers got wiped out when that market went into the wood chipper.

Are others seeing a similar thing in other industries? I'm guessing if you're looking to hire engineers or programmers or whatever you would of course be looking for someone with expertise in that particular field - are you instead getting inundated with resumes from people with no experience whatsoever in your industry? I wonder sometimes if applicants really realize how much technical knowledge goes into various fields? They often act completely clueless about this...
   156. bigglou115 Posted: August 16, 2012 at 05:20 PM (#4209925)
Since resumes are being discussed here a little bit and I know there are lawyers about I have a question. I've written exactly one resume and managed to get every other job I've had entirely through being in the right place at the right time and having the guts to ask about jobs.

The one time I wrote a resume I went to the people at the law school for help. She asked me about my work history and I told her I really didn't have one. She asked if I had any special skills, I said I was kind of a writer. She asked what I'd written and I told her I'd recently sold a novel, she told me to leave it off. I said I'd once written an article that was picked up by a local newspaper, she said leave it off. I told her that was it, she asked what I did in college. I told her I played a little baseball she told me to put that.

I got the job because knew the guy who was hiring and it was only a clerkship for a couple months anyway. He told me that I had the worst resume he'd seen and that I was lucky he knew I was a smart guy or he'd never have considered me. I told him what had happened and he asked to see my original resume, and declared it much better. He told me that universally law schools were awful at helping students find employment and that I'd be better of learning to write a resume from a book.

Now to my question, have you law professionals found the same to be true for you?
   157. Guapo Posted: August 16, 2012 at 05:50 PM (#4209950)
The one time I wrote a resume I went to the people at the law school for help. She asked me about my work history and I told her I really didn't have one. She asked if I had any special skills, I said I was kind of a writer. She asked what I'd written and I told her I'd recently sold a novel, she told me to leave it off. I said I'd once written an article that was picked up by a local newspaper, she said leave it off. I told her that was it, she asked what I did in college. I told her I played a little baseball she told me to put that.


Based on this description, your resume looked like this:


BIGGLOU115

EXPERIENCE:

I played a little baseball in college


I agree with your friend, that's a pretty terrible resume.
   158. bigglou115 Posted: August 16, 2012 at 05:55 PM (#4209952)
I agree with your friend, that's a pretty terrible resume.


Well that's my point. I did exactly what the lady who get's paid to look over our resumes said to do, and I left a lot of stuff on the cutting room floor. All a clerk does is research and write, and I had experience that could prove pertinent to that. Like I said, the guy liked the unedited version.

Seems like everybody has a horror story about law school career services like that one, I'm just curious if the law types around here are the same way.
   159. villageidiom Posted: August 16, 2012 at 06:06 PM (#4209961)
But for Smith to leave me a voicemail and try and act like it was MY error- that just compounded the obnoxiousness.
It was your fault, for applying for a job in the matrix.

I don't tailor my cover letter to the job I'm seeking. I skip the cover letter, and tailor my resume to the job. I give more detail on responsibilities that have direct bearing to the job requirements.

When I'm hiring - which I am now - I have an HR recruiter pre-screening candidates. It takes some time to "train" them on what is a good candidate vs. a bad one, but once they know that, I start getting mostly just the good ones, and avoid having to look through 165 resumes (most of which are crap). The thing is, to an HR recruiter a cover letter is not very enlightening if they want to filter the wheat from the chaff for my positions. A good cover letter is essentially worthless.
   160. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 16, 2012 at 06:10 PM (#4209967)
The thing that really shows you how depressing the economy has become is the number of applicants I've seen who are so desperate they are just throwing darts at the board at this point. They aren't even remotely qualified to interview because they don't have the necessary technical background in Accounting or Finance. For example, lots of them are ex-real estate industry people whose careers got wiped out when that market went into the wood chipper.


I work in real estate, and a large slice of our recent applicants (last couple of years, anyway) have been middle-aged former engineers and other sorts of technical people, who got downsized because they had enough seniority to be expensive.
   161. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 16, 2012 at 06:11 PM (#4209969)
I told her I'd recently sold a novel, she told me to leave it off. I said I'd once written an article that was picked up by a local newspaper, she said leave it off


I just did a webinar on resume writing in my industry (legal-related) and the speaker specifically said to put that stuff on.
   162. Manny Coon Posted: August 16, 2012 at 06:32 PM (#4209978)
I'm in software development and the times I've been looking for work, I've just used a short, plain text resume, with a focus on employment history and skills, with minimal customization for each potential job (generally most of the somewhat similar anyway) and it has always worked just fine. I usually don't include a cover letter unless its specifically asked for. I think a lot of people overdo their resumes/cover letters, people usually just want to know if you have the experience and skill to do the job or not. In other fields something more puffed up might work better, but it seems like that often requires just adding a bunch of nonsense and probably lying (do I really need act like I'm super excited to potentially work at some software company I've never heard of or some insurance company that needs their old crappy system updated, I think most people know that isn't true) and its often a waste of time.

The most insulting interview I've had involved someone bringing me in, asking me how I'd implement some website and online shop for his client (not really my expertise), so I draw out some vague high level design and then he asks if I'd be willing to do whole project myself for "a case of beer" instead of actual real money.
   163. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 16, 2012 at 07:36 PM (#4210011)
I draw out some vague high level design and then he asks if I'd be willing to do whole project myself for "a case of beer" instead of actual real money.

Imported or domestic?
   164. PreservedFish Posted: August 16, 2012 at 08:29 PM (#4210045)
I just did a webinar on resume writing in my industry (legal-related) and the speaker specifically said to put that stuff on.

I was just looking through the resume book at a top business school, in order to steal the formatting. Every single kid had a very very silly section at the bottom, the "interests" or "skills" section. These are kids competing for the 150k jobs at McKinsey or wherever, the type of kids that have already founded and sold companies and done some crazy ####, and their excellent school apparently instructs them to advertise their interest in Wiffleball or visiting Presidential libraries or hiking the Appalachian Trail or rescuing guinea pigs or whatever.
   165. The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward Posted: August 16, 2012 at 09:00 PM (#4210067)
When sending out resumes, what format do ya'll use? Up until a few months ago I'd just send the Word document of my resume. A co-worker told me he sends out resumes as a PDF or scanned JPEG (I guess it's worked for him because he recently got a better position in another company). So since then I've been doing the PDF/JPEG. Does it really matter?
   166. zenbitz Posted: August 16, 2012 at 09:01 PM (#4210068)
They used to tell us (in high school, late 80s) to keep resumes to 1 page. Inone the age of the pdf there is no need, but noone is going to read page 4.

One thing that surprised me about myself reading resumes is that i seemed to overrate or read closer the ones who used a little color (like a header or banner). Just caught the eye, i guess


And as for recession -- not for software engineers, particularly front end guys. I have to import them. Everyone needs websites/apps etc.
   167. PreservedFish Posted: August 16, 2012 at 09:10 PM (#4210074)
zenbitz, if you ever have a position open with great salary and benefits that requires absolutely no computer abilities, I'm your man!
   168. smileyy Posted: August 16, 2012 at 09:24 PM (#4210083)
[165] Plain text, and I put an HTML version on the internet.

You can pretty much be assured that that resume is going to go into an HR app somewhere and be shown on a web page. They'll just scrape the text out of Word or a PDF and put it into their app.

Well, larger companies anyway. And I'm a tech guy, so places that don't like plain text seem weird to me. But for a smaller place, where a human might read it, I'd go with plain text, a PDF, or a shared Google Docs document.
   169. Srul Itza Posted: August 16, 2012 at 09:42 PM (#4210097)
Do employers tend to not want to hire out of towners? Do they usually pick up the expense if they fly you in?


They will pick it up, but if you want to impress someone with how eager you are to move, fly yourself in. That helped me land a job here, where many employers are rightfully wary of whether Mainlanders really are going to uproot themselves to come into what, for most, will be a very different culture and environment, far from friends and family.
   170. bigglou115 Posted: August 16, 2012 at 09:54 PM (#4210109)
It occurs to me that if this young woman had read this thread then she might have gotten the job with the Padres. Some would call this irony, but they'd be wrong.
   171. Lassus Posted: August 16, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4210122)
A good cover letter is essentially worthless when hiring robot drones.
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