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further random questions from the newly-unemployed

On Friday 15 November 2002 02:44 pm, Seth Gordon wrote:
> OK, now that I've had about a whole week to devote to this full-time
> job-hunting thing, I have a few questions, and perhaps people more
> experienced in the art of 21st-century high-tech employment search can
> answer them.
> (1) When I'm applying for a job through a Web form, and the form has a
> TEXTAREA field for typing in a cover letter, what's the appropriate
> style for the letter?  My gut feeling is that since people's attention
> span for email/Web documents is even shorter than their attention span
> for a piece of paper, I should be briefer and less formal than the
> standard cover letter, so I've usually been writing something like this:
> "I believe that my experience with X and my strong Y skills make me an
> excellent candidate for your Foobar Engineer position.  Please contact
> me at your earliest convenience, so that I can show you my portfolio of
> code, documentation, and design samples.  Thank you for your attention."
> Am I shooting myself in the foot by being so brief?

Yes.  Don't forget that those textarea windows are usually very narrow, and 
the text will appear properly text wrapped to around 75 characters to the 
recipient, so it's not so many lines as you think.

In fact, the resume part may come as an attachment, so the cover letter is 
your only differentiator at that point.

> (2) My headhunter suggested that I mark my (et al) resumes
> as "confidential" instead of making them freely readable by everyone,
> because then anyone who wants to contact me will have to go through the
> site as an intermediary, and if the headhunter proposes me to some
> company for a job, they can't screw her by turning her down, looking up
> my resume on line, and contacting me directly.  This smells fishy to me
> -- as long as both she and I keep track of the dates of our contacts,
> employers can't take advantage of her in this way, and I don't feel like
> there's any benefit for me to place any barriers between me and a
> potential employer.  (It's not like I'm so busy fending off requests
> from companies that want to interview me...)  Does she have a valid
> point, or is she just trying to lock me in to her service?

It pains me to say this, but your headhunter is right.  There are a few 
1) Identity theft is becoming a growth industry, with job boards as a prime 
data source.

2) As much as I hate headhunters, if they get you into a place, they deserve 
their cut.

3) You don't want ANOTHER headhunter finding your resume and sending it places 
you don't want.  This is very important.  Lets say Dewee Cheatem and Howe 
Recruiters scans the job boards for juicy resumes.  They don't actually have 
paying employer clients.  They take those resumes, with all contact 
information, and send them out to 153 companies, whether appropriate 
positions exist or not.  They do nothing more to try to get you in there, so 
you're not likely to get the job.

Now imagine Honest Abe Recruiters finds your resume, has an appropriate job, 
and, after consulting you, send it on, following up with a call to the HR 
department, and general does all that he can to sell you.  But wait! That 
company already has your resume, and they must go with the first recruiter 
that brought you there.  Except that recruiter is just kicking back waiting 
for low-hanging fruit, and isn't interested in actually selling you to the 
company.  You are blocked from applying to that company by their actions, and 
your chances of getting the job are much lower than candidates who are either 
selling themselves or have recruiters selling them.

> (3) At what point should I start looking for contract work *even if* I
> don't need the money yet?  As long as my wife keeps bringing in income
> from her job at MIT, that money plus severance plus unemployment plus
> savings could keep our household afloat until sometime in mid-2004, and
> I could spend every day from now until then looking for a full-time
> permanent job (and every night learning Korean by studying the spam in
> my mailbox).  Under what circumstances would the non-financial gain of a
> temporary job outweigh the loss of time to look for a permanent job?

1) It keeps your skills sharp and relevant.

2) It could lead, though networking, to the job of your dreams, even in these 
tough times.

3) At some point you will become depressed, stop showering, and start talking 
to the spiders crawling around in your basement.  Therapy is expensive.  You 
can avoid this if you have others you can get together with during the day to 
get out of the house and hold conversations.

> --sethg
>    (that resume, again, is --
>     call today!  operators are standing by!)

Lemme know if you need more info.  I've been at this a while.

DDDD   David Kramer         david at
DKK D  This ship is being held together with little bits of wire and
DK KD  good intentions.   
DDDD                                                                   J'Kar

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