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Job Seeking Advice from an over-caffeinated Insomniac.

February 24, 2012

For the past few weeks, I’ve been waking up around 4am and hitting my laptop to get through my to do list. I don’t want to wake at 4am, but for some reason my brain starts booting up around 3:30 and by 4 I give up trying to fall back to sleep.

I’ve learned the hard way that sending important emails at 4am is not a good idea, the caffeine hasn’t yet kicked in, nor has my spell-checker.  I apologize for those who receive my 4am gibberish emails. (I should also apologize for this blog, which I started to write at 4am.) So it’s best to just read my emails and wait a bit to respond.  We’re looking for some summer interns, and since college students are pretty much going to bed when I’m getting up – my 4am inbox is usually filled with resumes.  I usually send a polite “thanks, but no thanks” email to about 95% of them.

But reading these resumes is making me cranky – so it’s advice time. Once upon a time I briefly wrote an advice column for a local newspaper – so I cannot help but give advice when it is needed and it’s desperately needed by some students trying to find a job or internship today.

While the jobless rate has shown some signs of improvement recently, it is still a tough job market out there and I do feel bad for many recent grads trying to find a job today.  When I graduated college in the 80’s, it was relatively easy to get a job – even if your hair was tallish and your shoulder pads approaching linebacker size.  But we still took the job search very seriously.

Armed with my dog-eared copy of What Color is Your Parachute, I recall sitting at my Olvetti typewriter having to type each cover letter on good quality linen paper that cost a fortune, and if you made a mistake you had to start over – white out was not allowed.  But it was stressed by professors and job counselors that the cover letter was very important, as you had 1 page to introduce yourself and convince the HR department to look at your resume.  I spent hours researching companies that I was sending resumes to, so that I can include some relevant company tidbit that I could relate how I would be an asset to them.  Back in the day before Google, you had to actually go to the library and read newspapers and possibly microfiche!

So imagine my chagrin when I received an email from a student with just a standard resume attached. No text at all in the email – Not even a “read ’em and weep” – Nada!  Obviously, I wasn’t going to hire this student (‘tho I did take a peak at her resume, just to make sure her dad wasn’t CEO of Under Armour or a big venture capitalist). But I thought I’d help her out and kindly offered that her resume efforts might be more fruitful if she included some pertinent information about herself in the body of her email. No reply of any kind.

Some resumes thankfully do include some sort of verbage, but do not use text or Twitter speak in your introduction.  It is not OK to use “IMHO”, “G8”, or “LOL” in a professional email, especially when  you’re hoping to make a good impression.  And definitely don’t use chat speak that the more mature reader has to google to figure out what it means!

If you receive a question in response to your email, please respond in a timely manner even if you’re no longer interested.  It’s just good manners.  Since our internship is unpaid, when we find someone who has potential, we will send an email thanking them for their submission and ask them a few questions and so neither of us wastes our time, make sure they read the small print that this is an unpaid internship.  This scares more than half of them off, but I’m always disappointed that they don’t respond.  The polite response would be to acknowledge the email and then go on to explain that you’re really looking for a paid internship, etc., but thanks for reading your resume. You never know when your paths will cross again, nor if you don’t find that paid internship in a few months, you might be back grovelling for that unpaid one for the experience and to build your resume.

If you receive a response from a prospective employer that your resume is interesting and we are in the process of reviewing them all and will be back in touch shortly, it’s OK to follow-up in 2 weeks to ask about the status of your application.  It it NOT OK to email, “Hey, it’s been 10 days since your email – what’s up?”.

Conversely, if you send the following email “My name is….and I am a student at…….studying Apparel Merchandising, Event Management, and Entrepreneurship. I will be moving to Chicago for the summer and I am looking for an unpaid internship. Do you offer unpaid internships during the summer?” – You’re a great fit and you’d get the response that yes we are looking for an intern, please email us a resume. It is good manners to actually reply with either your resume or a response that you’ve already found something else in a timely manner.

I guess I have a lot of intern resume issues to vent about, I mean give advice about – and I do have a phone interview with a potential intern later this morning, kind of feel sorry for her.  But trust me – in this day of spell-checkers, copy & paste capabilities, Google, etc., it really is not that hard to be professional, polished and polite.

Have a Smashing weekend!

PS  If you’re hired as an intern and find another job and cannot continue the internship, please let your employers know – especially before they buy you lunch.

2012 Copyright Smashing LLC 2012 Copyright

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