Are career counsellors offering this advice now?
July 21, 2015 2:15 PM   Subscribe

We're hiring at my office. A fair number of applicants have sent emails/called asking basically this: I have applied (or I plan to apply) for the job, can I set up a meeting with you to discuss my qualifications and how I might be a great match for the position?

We're perplexed -- is this a new job-hunting tactic? Is this applying and then asking for a "pre-interview" (or really, an interview!) a technique being suggested by career counselors these days.

I must admit to finding it off-putting and presumptuous. Why do applicants thinks it's a good idea? Does it work?
posted by Lescha to Work & Money (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I get this a lot from prospective interns. It's possible that this is how they got internships, so if they had internships that were the result of this tactic, they're trying it again. It's probably something someone told them to do to secure an internship and they think the same tactic applies to obtaining a regular job. My response is always, "Thanks for your interest. You can use the online application system to apply for the position you're interested in, and if we think there's a good fit, someone from HR will be in contact with you." If the person is pushy, I have been known to say, "Attempting to circumvent our hiring system is frowned upon here."
posted by juniperesque at 2:20 PM on July 21, 2015 [6 favorites]

This feels like the Ask Culture version of an informational interview. And those (informational interviews) are absolutely pushed hard by career adviser folks.
posted by phunniemee at 2:22 PM on July 21, 2015 [7 favorites]

It is extremely effective for many, many jobs where the formal applications go straight in the (virtual or physical) trash can. Sure, you may find it presumptuous -- then you're not the target audience and that's OK. It would work very well at most of the employers I've had, especially if the candidate makes a good impression and is persistent.
posted by miyabo at 2:22 PM on July 21, 2015

Applying using normal channels doesn't work anymore.
posted by hellojed at 2:23 PM on July 21, 2015 [19 favorites]

Best answer: Because this is what we've been told to do by our high school and college career centers for the past 10 years. The exact verbiage you used upthread is included in a guide my college advisor gave me a few years back. It's worked for me maybe twice.
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:26 PM on July 21, 2015 [28 favorites]

I was told to do that 20+ years ago in high school too, so it's not new.

But it's always been annoying...
posted by primethyme at 2:33 PM on July 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

In my experience (on the same side of it as you), it works best in places where the hiring officer (the eventual supervisor of the hiree) is far removed from the application process, i.e., HR acts as a gatekeeper and only lets some applications through based on arcane criteria. Or if there are too many to sort through all the resumes, but maybe now so many people do it that it's another layer of annoying masses.
posted by supercres at 2:36 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm not that old (35) and I've never heard of this working, so it might depend on your field.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:42 PM on July 21, 2015

If the person isn't telling you how great they are in the email, or making you also read a resume to understand her/him, I would move on.
This is a very common tactic. I have gotten my last three jobs using a variation of this.
posted by parmanparman at 2:51 PM on July 21, 2015

I got a job from basically doing this. I really doubt I would have gotten it otherwise, given the market for my field at the time.
posted by latkes at 3:05 PM on July 21, 2015

32 here, and I have been told since college to 'network network network'. That in order to get a job, you need to stand out. And if you just drop a resumé into an online submission form, you might has well have not done it at all. So, if someone doesn't have a network yet, this is their attempt to do so. It's competitive to even get volunteer positions at this point, so people are still pretty desperate and do what they can--and they are being told to do this by people my parents' age. My parents still try to give me the advice to just 'go to their office and wait in their lobby until you get to speak with someone and hand them your resumé'. Um, thanks parents, but when did you last look for a job?
posted by greta simone at 3:27 PM on July 21, 2015 [7 favorites]

I get a few messages like that per month, and a) we're not hiring and b) do not hire the type of position these folks are interested in. It is irritating but I assume it works often enough to persist.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:59 PM on July 21, 2015

Is the hiring process described in the ad? Submit resume & cover letter here, in these formats. Additional calls and email not welcome.
posted by theora55 at 4:00 PM on July 21, 2015

So, if someone doesn't have a network yet, this is their attempt to do so.

I get it, but that's a pretty bad misunderstanding of networking, IMHO. Having been on the receiving end of them, random cold calls or cold emails are very unlikely to work. If the person stands out at all, it's in a bad way. Even a little bit of effort like going to networking events so you can get a warm intro to the hiring manager or recruiter will make a huge difference. So I wish the people who tell young people how important "networking" is would explain to them what it actually means...

That said, I'll admit that I sometimes do a semi-cold email about a job. But I also am in the privileged position that I have a really strong resume (a track record of key positions at very well-known companies), and I'm pretty senior. So it's a little easier for me to say "hey, I have a background at X and Y, saw you're looking for a VP of Sprockets, and was wondering if we could chat to see if it might be a fit." When you're a unique candidate going after a hard to fill role, that can work (I've gotten jobs that way). But when you're an entry-level person "trying to stand out" for a job that thousands of people can fill, it's just going to make you look clueless.

Also, even when I do want to do a cold email, I always check my network to see if I have any contacts in common with the person or company, so I can get a real intro. This helps immensely, and is one of my favorite uses of LinkedIn. People who think LinkedIn is useless don't know what they're missing out on. It's ANNOYING but useful. A necessary evil IMHO.
posted by primethyme at 4:20 PM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

It isn't being presented as "how to network" IME. It's verbiage that counsellors think demonstrates how assertive we are and what kind of initiative we'd bring to a job. Networking is a whole other situation entirely.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:26 PM on July 21, 2015 [15 favorites]

I'm pretty sure I've used some version of that paragraph to close every cover letter I've ever sent out over the last 30 years. And I'm sure at some point some career counselor or other expert told me to do it.

Agree with Hermione Granger that it isn't supposed to be about networking (how in the world is asking for a job interview getting misinterpreted as a clumsy attempt at networking? Because a request for "a meeting with you to discuss my qualifications and how I might be a great match for the position" is a request for job interview, plain and simple. ) It's supposed to show confidence and initiative.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:54 PM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ask a Manager explicitly advises NOT to do this, so these people definitely haven't been reading her blog.
posted by MsMolly at 4:57 PM on July 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

I could actually see this working at my workplace (small tech company). Depends on who the email was sent to.
posted by deathpanels at 5:35 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've never seen informational interviews done this way. Informational interviews are supposed to be sought from people you are explicitly not seeking a job from, to ask them about what their job/field is like to get a sense for whether it's the right direction for you.
posted by canine epigram at 6:53 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I saw this recommended and vehemently disrecommended in about equal measure in my recent job search, but I suppose it must be relatively common because a number of the places I applied to specifically added dire warnings to their application pages that anyone attempting to circumvent the system in this way would immediately be dropped from consideration.
posted by dorque at 7:38 PM on July 21, 2015

I've seen this called a cold cover letter, but there's some other "name" for the tactic that I'm not recalling, too.

My only other comment beyond that is to add another voice agreeing that yes, I've seen this pushed as job search / job creation method multiple times from various sources over the last two decades. It's coming from somewhere and it's not a new thing.
posted by stormyteal at 7:41 PM on July 21, 2015

Response by poster: Is the hiring process described in the ad? Submit resume & cover letter here, in these formats. Additional calls and email not welcome.

Yes, the hiring process described in the ad -- online only. But adding "additional calls and email not welcome" sounds like a great idea. Worth a try.
posted by Lescha at 6:56 AM on July 22, 2015

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