2011-12-23

Goose Sauce, Part I: Dear Actively

   At many steps in the process, the expectations seem very unfair.  As I said, I'm not a recruiter, so I know mainly of those steps where the candidate is held to a much higher standard.  (If you know of times when the recruiter is held to a much higher standard than the candidate, feel free to contribute a guest post.)  Often the candidate is expected to be perfect, while the recruiter can get away with being horribly sloppy.

  Let's begin with the very first contact.  From the candidate to the recruiter, this is usually a cover letter.  Just like a résumé, this is supposed to be as perfect as humanly possible.

   But what about the initial contact from the recruiter to the candidate?  Maybe I'll rant about phone calls some other time, but for now I mean writing, and in this age that means email.  (If there's a name in the recruiting industry for these emails, I don't know it; recruiters, please chime in.)

   Are these emails as carefully crafted as a cover letter is supposed to be?  Perhaps occasionally.  Just like sinking a hole-in-one, or a politician telling the truth.

   Let's narrow the focus even more, and start at the very beginning.  In the beginning, says a very popular book, was the Word.  In this case, we are concerned with a few words in the beginning, to wit, the salutation.

   At the beginning of any letter, even emails, you expect to see a salutation.  This may be addressed to the person, if their identity is known ("Dear Ms. Brown", "Hello James"), otherwise perhaps the company ("Dear John Deere", "Dear Murder Inc."), the position ("Dear Hiring Manager", "Dear Recruiter"), or at the very least, a generic salutation ("To Whom it May Concern", "Dear Sir or Madman").  Wait, WHAT?!

   Ah, yes, the classic "Dear Sir or Madman" typo.  Or these days, maybe correction of an even worse typo.  (Autocorrection of something already correct?  I don't buy it.)  Any candidate submitting such a cover letter would be instantly roundfiled.  Very few recruiters will read any further -- except perhaps in search of more such entertainment.  And who can blame them?  I'm not saying that that's wrong!  All I'm asking for is equal treatment.

   Now let's look at the salutations on recruiters' initial contact emails.  They should ideally either address the candidate by name ("Dear Mr. Aronson", "Hello David"), or be generic ("Dear Candidate", "Hello Actively").  Wait, WHAT?!

   Yes, I receive several per week like that.  "Hello Actively", "Dear Casually", "Hi Confidential", "Greetings and Felicitations, O Exalted Exploring Options".  (Okay, I admit it, I made that last one up.) 

   Tell me... why shouldn't recruiters' emails with such salutations be likewise instantly roundfiled, with extreme prejudice?  It's every bit as sloppy, and indicative that the writer doesn't give a fig about the recipient, as "Dear Sir or Madman".  It's downright unprofessional.

   Sound off!  If you've received these, what was the most hilarious one?  What was your impression of the sender?  How did you react?  In particular, did you roundfile it?  Did it influence your reaction to further contacts from the same sender, same company, or same job board if applicable?  If you're a recruiter, are you guilty of this?  How did it happen?  How did you discover it?  What, if anything, did you do about it?  What do you think should be done about it, on both sides?

   PS: Before you start ranting back about my use of punctuation outside of quote marks, see the Wikipedia article on quotation marks, in particular the section about typographical considerations, specifically with respect to punctuation.  I tend to follow the British style, also known as (ahem) "logical quotation", though without the illogical (IMHO) distinction between fiction and non-.

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