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Avoid Stupid Job Hunting Gaffes

By Barbara Strangfeld

As the Human Resources Coordinator of a rapidly growing company, I am deluged with electronic resumes for both advertised and unadvertised positions. In our company, HR reviews all the resumes it receives and most of them are forwarded for review by an appropriate Manager or Principal of the firm. I am amazed, however, at the number of individuals sending electronic resumes who seem to have no clue that they are applying for a professional position. They seem to think they are visiting a "chat room". Here are some simple guidelines for all you electronic job hunters.

1. We're not looking for a "StonedPony".
I can't tell you how many electronic resumes I have received with e-mail addresses like "Ax-murderer" or "HotBabe" or "FunkyChicken". Yes, as you know, all HR managers have a great sense of humor but when we are looking for a candidate for a professional position a "funky chicken" isn't what we had in mind. No, this kind of thing doesn't eliminate a candidate, but it certainly doesn't make the best first impression. Even the "dottiest" of dotcom companies are looking for solid professional employees who will add value to their company.

If your e-mail address is less than professional, you might want to set up a second account specifically for jobhunting. It's easy, it's free, and it's the smart thing to do.

2. We don't want to wonder if you're on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.
If you really are looking for a job, then make it easy for the company to contact you. We have received numerous e-mails with elaborate contact instructions like, "I'll be out of the country for the next several months but you can call Joey's beeper on Tuesdays between 4-6 pm at 1-999-999-9999 and leave a message". Or, "Leave a message with my younger brother's ex-girlfriend Misty".

A professional answering service is relatively inexpensive and a great investment if you're job hunting. Hire one and use it.

3. We don't want contagious resumes.
This seems like a no-brainer, but we have received numerous virus-infected resumes. It only takes a moment to scan your resume for viruses before you send it. I can guarantee you won't be making a good first impression if you infect your prospective employer's computer with the latest bug.

4. Don't follow up with a ransom note.
I usually acknowledge resumes with an e-mail. I can tell you it's not a pleasant "good morning" when I review the day's e-mail and find that someone has responded to an acknowledgement with a terse ultimatum like, "I need an answer by Wednesday at 5pm the latest".

Yes, employers know that a candidate might accept another position if they don't act quickly, but many times there are other contingencies employers must consider. There are more tactful ways of getting that message across. For example: "I've been offered another position but your company is my first choice. Is it possible the decision will be made by Wednesday?"

These are just a few basic suggestions to help you avoid embarrassing gaffes that could cost you a job.

Finally, if your business savvy is not on a par with your state-of-the-art technical expertise and you just can't understand why your "death_to_invaders" e-mail address isn't acceptable, ask a good mentor for advice about how to present yourself in a businesslike way.

Please tell us what you think of this article.

Barbara Strangfeld is the Coordinator of Human Resources for Northern Ecological Associates, Inc. (NEA), a highly technical environmental consulting firm located in Portland, Maine and Canton, New York. NEA specializes in environmental planning, management, and the performance of ecological studies. With over 20 years experience in human resources, public relations, and administration, Ms. Strangfeld specializes in human resource management, employee recruitment, strategic planning, organizational and personal development, employee training and public speaking. Although a great fan of high-tech, when not working she can be found at the family's island cottage in Canada living a decidedly low-tech life!


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