July 21, 2008

To Get A Job, You Have To Ask For It

Posted in A walk on the "dark side" tagged at 3:26 pm by R

Not so long ago, when I was applying for my first job I sent out a lot of letters. I’m sure I made some hilarious errors that some sweet HR person got a good chuckle out of.

Exhibit A: This is the letter that prompted this post (please note: all the names were changed to protect the innocent)

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Gloria Estephan,

I am a recent graduate of the Barbara Wawa School of Journalism & Mass Communications at The View University. I just completed a 14-month internship as a public relations/media associate for the Fancy Schmancy Event Host Committee.

Attached is my resume and two letters of recommendation. Further references will be provided upon request.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Best wishes,


Now that I’m the “To Whom It May Concern” as the hiring manager for Armstrong Troyky, I’d like to pass on some wisdom that will help you get that job.

  1. Tell me what you want to do here. Do you want another internship? Are you interested in a full-time position with us? Do you want to be an administrative assistant, account coordinator, account service rep? I need to know what position it is you want to fill to properly assess your ability to execute the duties of said position.
  2. Tell me why you should be considered. I get plenty of these emails. What I don’t get a lot of are ones that wow me with a stand out skill or marked accomplishment that makes me want to open an attachment (I’ll cover attachments in a moment).
  3. Call me! Yes. I absolutely prefer email. But so do reporters and I call them anyway. Let me know you really are interested in a position by following up with me. My father-in-law always says, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” It’s true, the more (appropriately) persistent you are, the more likely you’ll be to get an answer, even if it is a no.
  4. Attachers Be Ware. Do you know where emails with attachments from strange email addresses go…junk mail. This is why #3 is so important. I might never get your resume, writing samples and recommendations because they were automatically forwarded to the land of no return…my Spam box.

With these things in mind, if I were to do it all over again, this is what I’d do.

  1. Research the company…thoroughly. Know who’s the boss, what work the company’s done, where their most recent client article appeared.
  2. Call the company. Say hi. Find out if they have any jobs. No? Find out if they’d be willing to have coffee or lunch and help you continue your search with the added horse power of their contacts. Maybe most importantly in this step, find out the actual name of the person you should send your CV to.
  3. Send a cover letter in an email with the offer to send an attached resume and writing samples. Trust me this will be appreciated, especially if you note that you don’t want to jam an in-box with lots of info
  4. Be overly courteous. You only get one chance to make your first impression. Whether it’s in writing, on the phone or face-to-face, be as polite and proper and sweet as you can be. Instead of “Further references will be provided upon request,” (which just sounds a little bossy when I read it) how’s about “I’d be happy to pass along more references should you require them.”
  5. Follow up like it’s your full time job. Call to follow up and ask for a time to call back. Ask for  good time to reach the correct person. Be polite, but be persistent. After all, it’s one of the skills we need to know you have if you want to work for our team.

When you are looking for and applying for jobs you have to be your own publicist. Make sure to treat yourself like a client and be strategic and thorough with the messages you are sending and tenacious in follow up.



1 Comment »

  1. Jun Loayza said,

    Hi Robyn,

    Great post you have here. People often take the cover letter for granted and you offer some great tips about how to make it very effective.

    When I was interviewing for companies, I sent emails to the directors and managers of the firm to introduce myself. Although very few replied back, my emails gave me a head start above my competition when my interviewer was someone I had emailed.

    Since we’re both part of BC, I would like to invite you to my startup company’s private beta:

    Code: junloayza

    FD Career is a career development community that turns your real life into an online RPG. Everytime you get an internship, become a leader in an organization, or get a high GPA, you gain levels on the site. As you gain in level, you gain prestige and access to more prestigious firms.

    Hope you have some time to test out the site. I would greatly value your feedback.

    Thanks Robyn! Look forward to hearing back.

    – Jun

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