Dear Sir: When applying for a job, don’t do this Melanie Baker February 18, 2016 Columns, Featured, M-Theory Hiring. Getting hired. We’ve looked at broad considerations when you see an interesting posting: What is the company looking for, are you it, and how’s your first impression? This time, it’s about making contact, and good communication. Funny thing: I don’t really care what your email address is. I might briefly raise an eyebrow if it’s something like superstudxxx@ or sparklekitty782@. But ultimately, even if it’s Hotmail, I’m much more interested in the content. Now, I do care to whom you address the email. Some companies do make it really difficult to figure that out. But there’s no excuse for “To Whom It May Concern.” Research as well as you can. If it becomes obvious that the company doesn’t want to give out that information, so be it. Just be polite. However, if you address your application to “Dear Sir,” you’ve just disqualified yourself. At least when I’m the one vetting resumes. Sure, it may be a cultural thing. But the job is within our company’s culture. Our company has women. We’re allowed to leave the house and get jobs these days. Even manage people and make hiring decisions! No typos in the subject line. No typos in the greeting, message body, or anywhere else. Don’t accidentally leave in the name of the person to whom you addressed your last form letter. That “really good writing skills” requirement? Attention to detail is part of that. Ask for help. Even if you’re Shakespeare, after your umpteenth edit, you’re text blind. You’re not going to see errors, awkward sentences, bad jokes, etc. When we stipulate that those great writing skills need to be in English, it’s because that’s the language we do business in with our customers. ESL? You’re likely at a disadvantage. Sorry. Also, while we’d love to know if you speak/write other languages, don’t send us your resume or intro in one of them, please. For every trying-too-hard introduction, there are others not trying at all. We’ve received empty emails with only a resume attached. Or that just say, “Resume enclosed.” Wow, thanks. People who start off boring or rote often don’t fare much better. “I saw your posting on X. It looked really interesting to me…” Yawn. We need to know that you’re qualified, but we also need to know who you are. We crafted the job posting to encourage you to be… you. Sure, when hiring locally you can shine in your in-person interview. A lot of our team is remote, though. The real you has to shine through in text. At the same time, though, there’s too “clever.” Rethink the intro letter rhyming couplets and Adele lyrics. I’m aware that women won’t apply unless they have 112% of posted skills and experience. And some guys will apply even if all they have is a heartbeat. Yes, you can spin some things. But you can’t just ignore requirements that don’t apply to you. You may be a beautiful and unique snowflake, but you’re not a prospect. A few applicants do a great job of explaining the value of unorthodox experience. My colleagues and I are also people with varied backgrounds. We’re likely interested. How will your past adventures help our business? We might agree. OK, congrats, we’re convinced to open your resume. Requested: one page. Received: The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Funny thing, the more qualified people are, the shorter their resumes tend to be. And with reasonable font sizes. Yes, it sucks to be young and lack experience. Yes, it’s hard to get some when no one wants to hire you. So make your own. I am not the first person to preach this gospel. Whether you’re young, or trying to change careers, take the initiative to do what you want to be doing. Learn, build, create. Show it on your website or repository or Instagram. Prove that you’re doing it, with or without this job. Not easy, I know. You have TPS reports and hockey practices and laundry. But if there’s one thing in life that’s going to get you where you want to be, it’s hustle. And yes, it can work. We’ve hired someone like that. (I suspect your odds are best at a small company.) Briefly: LinkedIn. It’s often OK these days to send a link to your profile instead of attaching a resume. Unless you’re asked for a resume. Keep your profile up to date and ensure it’s set up so I don’t have to scroll to find the relevant stuff. NO profile photo of you without a shirt, or in your wedding dress. Honestly, people. Don’t offer to work for free to “prove” you’d be a good choice. It’s desperate. And illegal. Speaking of legalities, can you legally work for us? More of a consideration for remote hiring than for local, but sponsoring someone for a visa is a lot of extra work and risk. Now, on the flip side, what DON’T we want to know? Application styles vary culturally, but please focus on your professional self. If we can’t ask it, don’t include it. Don’t need to know and don’t care. When did resume photos become a thing? Don’t bother. Home address, birthdate, marital and child status, job satisfaction? Nope. OK, everything is perfectly crafted and ready. Now get someone to look it over again. More proofreading, also format and clarity. Different software and operating systems. Six-point font? Banish it. To finish up, a secret: While it’s out of your control, the earlier you can get an application in, the better. For the first few days after the posting goes up, we still have energy and hope. We pay more attention and remember more details. But after 300 resumes? Oy vey… A posting expiring tomorrow isn’t an absolute lost cause, but it may be a serious long shot. Just FYI. Photo: Application – glasses – pen by Flazingo Photos is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. M-Theory is an opinion column by Melanie Baker. Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Communitech. Melle can be reached @melle or firstname.lastname@example.org.