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Now I had it with Joel

That resume article (oh sorry - I didn't spell it "résumé", will Joel not ready my post now?) is just TOO MUCH. I always thought that Joel was in touch with was what happening around him but let me tell you what life is like for most of us.

Unlike Joel, people make mistakes.  People are nervous. They are areally anxious to get the job so they mail in a letter. They read about "getting noticed" in books about writing CV's and follows its silly advice. Getting noticed these days is difficult, if not impossible. Some of us are not native english speakers and does not have a good friend with A+ grades in english.

I'm sorry Joel - correct me here if I'm wrong - but after spending some time reading your past articles about  your experience about finding - can it be so that you have not tried to apply for an IT job in the post dot-com boom and have no experience of what its like?

People ARE desperate. Try for one second and put yourself in these shoes.

Personally I spent two months searching for a company to sponsor my Master Thesis(this was in 2000, just for the crash). I found this nervewrecking.  Although I was lucky I think many people are off alot worse than me.

Niklas
Monday, January 26, 2004

> People ARE desperate. Try for one second and put yourself in these shoes.

And do you think maybe he is. By writing better cover letters he's helping YOU get a job.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 26, 2004

When you're unemployed, getting a job should be the most important thing in your life.

If you make mistakes on the most important thing in your life, how does that translate to what you'll do on the employer's projects?

If you can't get the stuff that matters to you right, why should I expect any better on the stuff that matters to me?

Philo

Philo
Monday, January 26, 2004

I think Joel is getting hit too much for this. I agree that his article could have been worded more politely. But heck, how many times have we hurt others unknowingly through our words?

Karthik 
Monday, January 26, 2004

I think the problem is it "struck home" with too many people. People don't like to be judged and unfortunately this is the crux of the job search process. You know... I want to work for you / how dare you judge me.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 26, 2004

Boo.  Hoo. 

No matter how desperate you may be, you MUST learn to sell yourself to be successful.  If you fails, then you do not deserve the job.

Life is not simple.  Life is not fair.  Accept it, and live it with happiness.

T.J.
Monday, January 26, 2004

Cover letters are about as necessary in the day of emails as starting a message with "Dear...." and ending with "Sincerely..."

I think Joel's troubles are nothing but a tragedy of the commons.  Too many engineers send out too many resumes that they shouldn't, which results in a stack of resumes that must be culled.

Flamebait Sr.
Monday, January 26, 2004

I think too many people are trying the shotgun approach to job hunting.

By this I mean, send out resumes to anything that remotely looks like a possible job and figure the more you send, the better the odds. If they don't need you for the current job, maybe they have something else for you. By doing it in bulk, it's easy to get sloppy.

I know I've done it.

Maybe it's too easy to apply for jobs these days. Just go to monster and push a button. Maybe it would be better if a job required the job seeker to put a piece of paper in the mail.

pdq
Monday, January 26, 2004

your right flamebait sr we should get rid of all formality especially in the salesprocess

no sending a cover letter is 1337

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 26, 2004

>I think too many people are trying the shotgun approach to job hunting.

Which approach would you try. A scalpel approach is not realistic. Finding the perfect position with the perfect company. From a jobs post date till the selected employee's first day can be anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks. Personally I dont have time to wait that long for one job.

Instead I flood the job market. Send out 100 resumes. Follow up with personal call-ins. Receive 97 rejections and 3 interviews interview with all 3 and receive 1 offer.

Zach
Monday, January 26, 2004

I'm going to defend Joel here for a minute.

First: "People ARE desperate". So what? So you shouldn't discard resumes from people that sound desperate? It doesn't matter if they are or not, if you have a two resumes, and one is confident and the other desperate, which will you pick?

Next: "People are nervous". Well, if your nervous, why didn't you proofread it? Why didn't you have a friend proofread it? Honestly, get nervous at the interview. You have plenty of reason to get nervous then. But you have all the time in the world to spend on your resume, so don't make a mistake on it.

On getting noticed by mailing the resume: it explicitly said to email it. Explicitly and specifically. So you email it. Now, if it weren't stated, then you mail it. But you should follow the employer's directions.

Joel has to get hundreds of resumes for the two positions. Do you honestly expect him to take one with spelling errors and bad grammer, when there's a thousand that don't have mistakes? People, it may not be fair, but at least be realistic about it.

Mike Swieton
Monday, January 26, 2004

I'm also having a hard time understanding all this outrage.  Joel's comments seem pretty common sense to me.  And I've gotten every job I've had through answering newspaper advertisements and sending in a cover letter/ resume. 

Mike
Monday, January 26, 2004

"When you're unemployed, getting a job should be the most important thing in your life."

Surely those pesky things called "family and friends" are more important.

Maybe that's why people are getting upset. We've made our jobs so much part of our sense of self worth that we view them as the primary thing in our life.

The idea of working to live rather than living to work comes to mind here.

Sum Dum Gai
Monday, January 26, 2004

Actually, I think Joel's tone is quite helpful.

If anything, it was underdone.

After all, you should probably assume the person reading your resume (whatever component of it they may be reading - and the email body is the most likely part) has already read two or three hundred nigh-identical resumes, and while generally a nice person, is currently tired, irritable, angry at humanity in general, and eating lukewarm junkfood that will do horrible damage to their figure because it's very late and they didn't have time to get a decent feed because of *all the damn resumes*.

(NB:  Sentences that long will likely displease them).

Making that person happy would be nice, but you have to aim for not arousing their anger any further first. 

You might *not* get an ogre reading your resume, but even the nicest people can temporarily become ogres, and resume-reading is fairly likely to render them such.  So make your resumes ogre-proof any way you can!

Mediocre ASP Monkey
Monday, January 26, 2004

I don't know, reading resumes is a pretty cushy job. I'd much rather do the easy work of reading resumes than having to actually write software, which requires that you think.

If the choices were reading resumes for a few days, or writing software, all at the same pay, I'd take resumes every time.

So why assume the person reading resumes is pissed off? Sure, they probably don't care, but I'd assume they were rather happy to be doing such an easy task.

Sum Dum Gai
Monday, January 26, 2004

Heh, guess I'm projecting my own impressions on what resume-reading would be like (I'd take a day's programming over resume reading unless the resume option had significant incentives) - but then again, surely it's not a liability to be ogre-proof if at all possible?

If you can assume and compensate for the worst case without detracting from your resume's suitability to the average case, it would seem worthwhile.

Mediocre ASP Monkey
Monday, January 26, 2004

...

The disparity in response on this issue could be the disparity between the older employer and the younger employee.

Re-reading my resume from as little as a year ago, I cringe. I'm 20 now, and wondering how much it really is to ask a kid/guy my age to be word perfect. I'm thinking its a lot harder than anyone older and more practised remembers... Like a teacher who just can't understand why his 8 year old student WONT get algebra.

I'm writing a cover letter for fog creek at the moment. My rule of thumb was
"Mr Spolsky is smart. He'll look for the REAL value in this, so I don't need to lie, and I don't need to be too anal about grammar like I would for Mr I-Don't-Know-Him-So-Assume-He's-Stupid."

Now I need to rethink.

Tony Porteous
Monday, January 26, 2004

I'll stick up to defend Joel too. Contrary to what another poster said, reading resumes is not a cushy job, especially when you're not the HR type. As a development manager, you've got a pile of other responsibilities during the day to tackle aside from reading a stack of identical resumes full of wannabes.

I've had people send me five applications for a single advertised job posting, reschedule interview appointments "because they didn't want to be running around all day doing interviews", write with poor grammar for technical writing positions and scream at their kids while you were on the phone with them trying to schedule an interview appointment (that incident by the way, taught me that telephone pre-screening is an important tool).

No, it's not easy finding a job. Yes, there are a lot of talented people out there. BUT, you only get ONE chance to make a positive first impression. That's how it is. When one job posting generates a flood of a thousand resumes, the first pre-screening task is unfortunately based on highly superficial things. If the "candidate" isn't interested in finding out how to spell your company's name properly, why would you want to hire them?

Joel's comment about regurgitation of resume self-help books also touched a nerve. Who is not going to say they are a team player, works best with tough deadlines and pays attention to detail?

I remember the one thing I used to do as a hiring manager that the thank you letter for the interview scores the applicant zero points in terms of mindshare or brownie points. Unless the candidate was already an extraordinary talent, that person usually got dumped in the do-not-hire pile. Personally, I think the thank-you letter just smells like an ass-kissing tactic. That the person actually spent the time to learn that tactic from a book scores them negative points.

While I sympathize with the difficulty surrounding a job search, it's important to understand that people are not necessarily hired on criteria that is considered fair. That's the real world, and it's painful. A person in the position to do hiring will hire based on his/her discretion. Nothing you can do about it. Whining just reinforces their decision not to hire you. Live with it.

Steve Ng
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

What is interesting today is the number of people in this and other threads spouting off about this being the real world, don't whine etc. etc.

For weeks on, this forum has been full of "whining" about outsourcing, offshoring and how hard it is for the American developer, the poor dear.

Double standards, anyone?

equal opportunity whiner
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Am I wrong in suspecting that most of us who support Joel are involved in screening resumes, and most of those who oppose him are not?

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

"I remember the one thing I used to do as a hiring manager that the thank you letter for the interview scores the applicant zero points in terms of mindshare or brownie points. Unless the candidate was already an extraordinary talent, that person usually got dumped in the do-not-hire pile. Personally, I think the thank-you letter just smells like an ass-kissing tactic. "

I see. Courtesy bad. Do you also "no hire" people who say "please" and "thank you"?

On the plus side, I'm guessing you similarly tear off cover letters unread, since cover letters are even more likely to have come from a "how to get a job" book.

Right? ;-)

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Philo:
"When you're unemployed, getting a job should be the most important thing in your life.

If you make mistakes on the most important thing in your life, how does that translate to what you'll do on the employer's projects?

If you can't get the stuff that matters to you right, why should I expect any better on the stuff that matters to me?"

I'm with Philo on that.

The fact is that we get far too many applications for jobs, so you have to have some way of chopping down the numbers.

It may not be *fair* to eliminate candidates based upon commas, but hey, life isn't fair. That's the whole point of life, as far as I can see.

Steve Jones (UK)
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Thank you letters after the interview are an American thing. To a Brit they seem alien. So check out the nationality of the guy who's interviewing you.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Yes, those who've had stacks of resumes to read know that it is a mind-numbing experience and this is the unsolvable crux of the issue. So the jobseeker's response should be to realise and accept that and then act accordingly.

Acting accordingly means simply, don't give the resume reader an easy excuse to reject you. It's as simple as spelling, grammar, some basic layout, etc.

Posters haven't mentioned another important issue that Joel brought up. A resume is a way to get an interview. Period. Concentrate on writing things that will get you an interview.

I have given advice on writing resumes for friends and I've even got paid for doing a few for non-friends. The advice usually relates to the order of the topics (education, work experience, etc.) and the fact that it's a good idea to have a one-liner at the top summarising your skills, stating your objectives or some such.

So often people send resumes where the hirer can't even understand what the resume has go to do with the job.

Job hunters: Resumes are a marketing tool so use the comments on this forum to learn your market (ie the mentality of someone who is hiring) and improve your resume.

Zap
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

"You know... I want to work for you / how dare you judge me"

That cuts both ways though. One wonders how many people who might otherwise think that they would want to work at FC would read that article and say "What an arrogant so-and-so. I'm not going to apply there."

By the way, of the best people I have worked with, not one of them has been a native English speaker and so they made mistakes with their English. They were still "smart" and "got things done", and much quicker than the rest of us poor plebs.


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I've never had to vet resumes so can comment fairly objectively here I think. Forgive me if people have already said things along these lines but I don't have time to read all of the previous comments :-)


It seems to me that everyone who is complaining about Joel's article is over-reacting. It's a well thought out, well-written article that says it like it is. Let's face it, if somebody receievs more applications than there are job places there has to be a method of splitting them into good and bad. Interviews are great when there are only a few candidates but impractical with 10 or 20, let alone a hundred or more.

Quite frankly, if you get two resumes, one well written and displayed with good spelling & grammar, and one that is sloppy, full of typos and ignorant of the instructions provided, which one is going straight in the bin...?

Joel is simply describing a way of picking candidates to move to the next step. I happen to believe, from a completely objective viewpoint, that his way is the best way. Would you rather he pulled straws? Or treated it as a lottery?

If you don't like it then all you can do is stop complaining and make sure that your resume never has cause to go into the bad pile....

James Ussher-Smith
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

It doesn't matter how bad your English skills are.  I don't care if you're a frigging triple PhD and god's gift to software engineering whose only defect is that they can't speak or write English worth a damn.

If you can't speak english well, don't apply for a job where strong english skills are a requirement.

If you're writing a resume in english, but your english skills are weak, have a native english speaker proof-read it for you!

There is no rule that says you can't have someone else proofread your resume.  This is not a 5th grade english class or a spelling bee.

Richard P
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

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