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Monday, March 3, 2008

The Job Hunt

Hunting for jobs is really the most depressing and demoralizing experience of my life. There are a lot of reasons for this. Part of this is because the process is so impersonal. I go to a website, fill out a form, upload a Resume, copy+paste a cover letter into a little textbox and click "send". Invariably, I receive a message like this:

"Thank you for submitting your resume. Our hiring managers are examining your qualifications, and determining if you are a good fit for one or more current or future job openings. We will contact you if a suitable match is found".

And then...that it. Fewer then 50% of companies that I reply to even have the courtesy to send a confirmation email. Every confirmation email I have ever received has been uninformative, impersonal, and completely generic. I have never, ever, ever received an email that says "We're sorry, but after reviewing your resume we've decided that you're not a match for any of our open positions". Such an email would be so welcome, because then I wouldn't need to wait and worry, hoping all sorts of false hopes that my resume was still in a pile to be considered. A simple "no, thank you" would be so welcome.

A few years back I interviewed at a company called Agilent, which used to be the HP division for test and measurement equipment. It wasn't my best interview ever, and I didn't get the job. However, what stands out most about this experience (besides, possibly, the lavish interview process) was the call that I received at the end:

Them: "I'm sorry, but we've decided to hire somebody else for the position".
Me: "That's fine, Thanks for calling me. By the way, may I ask why I wasn't selected?"
Them: "One of the other candidates was more qualified"

I'm paraphrasing, of course, but the point is the same: They called me to inform me that I didn't get the job, and even went so far as to tell me why I didn't get it. That kind of information is invaluable. Because of this simple experience, I recommend that all good engineers I know apply to Agilent.

Tonight I also received a letter, typed and hand signed, from a company called J. F. Taylor Inc. to tell me that they've received my resume and are considering it. It may just be a confirmation letter, but receiving something that's not a computer-generated generic email is so reassuring. I start to think that maybe an actual human is actually reading and actually considering me for a position. It's the feignt glimmer of hope that I need to keep going.

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