Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Shouting Down the Cyberhole

It's like Wishing Down the Wishing Well. Except not that cute.

With the prevailing mode of re-employment these days being the online seek and apply, I must say, I thought I would be, but I am not, a fan.

It's convenient, easy-to-track, and as a bonus, a perfect method for a writer and marketer like me. If you have a good resume and know how to tailor it for the positions you're applying for, you're one step ahead. If you have a great cover letter and know how to tailor it for the audience you're appealing to, you're two steps ahead. If you have a specific set of job search terms and yet some flexibility in your salary range, job title and position requirements, well, you should be a half a mile out by now.

These are the things I felt I had going for me as I approached the wishing well with my pouch full of shiny coins. Not just pennies. Bigger than that. I've invested a great deal in my job applications so far. Some of these journeys, once you click on "Apply Here," really take you on a trip which you might start to regret once you get all in there. You begin by uploading your resume, simple enough, and next thing you know it seems like they're asking you if you want the red pill or the blue pill. Two hours later you emerge with an automated form email saying they received your 5-page essay application, resume, cover letter, list of past clients and psychological test answers, but it will take them several weeks to review your qualifications along with those of the several hundred other candidates who applied from across the globe, online, faster than you, and all the internal company candidates as well, including the guy everybody loves over at the Boston office, you know him, the one with the touching stories about when he was recovering from his injuries in Iraq...

Okay, it must the water at this well because I'm being far too cynical, too soon. But I will say this. There is a LOT to learn about the online job application process, and it's best we learn it asap. There is resume parsing going on, and application keyword searching, and all sorts of other efficiencies that take much of the legwork out of the initial review process for recruiters at companies and employment agencies. It's how you get sorted, ordered, and possibly not even considered.

The worst part to me, though, is how often I'm left without a direct contact for follow-up purposes. Almost always. This, I think, stinks. I really miss submitting my resume and cover letter DIRECTLY to a PERSON who I can call to follow up with in a week or so. That person might be too busy to have even looked at my application yet, or that person might still be reviewing resumes and not ready to answer me yet, or that person might be glad to hear from an eager candidate who is saving them the trouble of calling themselves and thus reward them with an interview on the spot. This part of the job application process is something I'm having a hard time dealing without. Case in point:

A few weeks ago, over the holidays, I applied for a job I would, literally, be soooooo perfect for. I applied via LinkedIn. I heard nothing, not even an acknowledgment of receipt of my resume. I sent a great cover letter. Fraught with anxiety over the timing, and not wanting to be overlooked in the holiday hustle, I found the right contact email on the company website and followed up a couple days later with an even better (what have I got to lose?) letter saying, I really want to talk with you about this job, so please don't let my resume go unanswered. I got Nothing. Now, over two weeks later, I am wondering, do I want to work for that company, if this is how they handle their business and/or treat people who are so enthusiastic about applying for professional positions they advertise?

Except, I really do. I still am enamored with this job possibility. I can't get through to a contact, though. There are no phone numbers for corporate offices listed anywhere; everything is attached with individually owned retail outlets. I've already somewhat stalked, a little, via postings on twitter and a question on facebook. It looks like they are automated, so no response there. Perhaps I have to let go. But it's a darn shame. I felt so sure... whatever pill I took, it feels like I got smaller, and from a distance I can see myself shouting down the cyberhole where I sent my sincere and very on-point inquiries. I feel like I wasted my my biggest, shiniest penny. Hellloooooo, is anybody down theeeeerrrrrreee?

What do you think I should do? (comment!) I've looked up other people in the company on LinkedIn, and again, can find no clear way to directly contact anyone, without busting through and trying to connect, though I don't know them. I could call nearby outlets and just ask if these people ever stop in or have office numbers (it's a franchising operation). Should I give it up? My gut was telling me for days and days, they totally should hire you, Faith, you are going to help this company grow and grow with it. My intention was to nail down a clearly mutually beneficial arrangement. The position is still posted. There are two other positions in other areas of the company along with it. Could it be they are this slow and this remiss when it comes to contacting people?

Out of 10 applications since December 2, I have received 8 "We got your application" notes with no further news. I've only received 1 rejection.  I see that those 8, 6 of the jobs have been closed. That means, out of 10, I heard absolutely nothing from just this 1. My next ToDo4Today: get a new stack of coins. Meaning, reapply myself! My goal: don't take either pill. Make a sammich. Stay normal.

I'll share tips about about resume parsing and application keyword searching tomorrow.


  1. The last time I was looking for a job, I had actually decided to follow up a week or two after submitting my resume with a handwritten note and another copy of my resume to the hiring manager or whomever I could find. The note was just on a piece of stationary sized paper, not a full-on formal letter.
    On at least two occasions (after sending about 40 and self-diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome) the hiring manager actually told me they are glad that I sent the letter because they hadn't seen or had lost my resume. I ended up getting a job with one of them. It's old school, but you never know what's going to work!

    1. that may seem old school to some, but I've come across the same type of advice more than once in recent articles from HR types. If you can follow up with a hard copy mailed to their desk, it can ring a bell. Also, it can trum problems that might have occured with uploads or other parts of the resume collection process, even human error if someone skipped printing out an application. (See Jan 10 and 11 case study posts on this very topic.) Not sure if everyone will appreciate the handwritten note. That's probably a personal touch that some will like and others will question, but there is no doubt it will stand out for sure! I like it. Quick note on top of all the printed materials you submitted online. Just in case, for their convenience...you're right, you never know. What's to lose at that point?