PSA to job applicants: Follow Instructions!

One of my first tasks at my new job, hilariously, is to hire someone.

I’ve requested certain information (really, two words) to be put in the email subject, just so I can quickly sort through candidates. Many, many people don’t do it. Also, why don’t people list their basic qualifications in their email? I have hundreds (not an exaggeration) of replies. I don’t have time to open each resume attachment to verify if you actually are qualified. You’ve got exactly 2 seconds for me to scan the email. If I don’t see anything in the email body but “My resume is attached, please contact me with any questions” then you go right into the discard pile.

I feel bad for job applicants. Man, I was just there. I know. But, damnit, I followed instructions to the letter and always, always, ALWAYS had a short cover letter in the email detailing which qualifications from the job ad I happened to possess.

Not kidding, job applicants. Anyone screening resumes these days is swamped. Don’t make it harder on them.

I now totally understand why so many ads stuff like have “You MUST have X. We’re not kidding! Absolutely no chance of you getting this job without X. DO NOT reply. We won’t even consider you.”

Well thats interesting…only the email initial text gets read…lol




…unless it indicates that it is worthwhile to read the attached resume.

The problem, of course, is that an applicant who doesn’t follow instructions won’t follow the instructions to follow instructions and thus we’re right back where we started.

Seriously though, I’ve never understood why this is a problem for some people. The people for whom you want to work have given you a simple task (put two words in an e-mail subject line) and yet, even though you expect them to pick you to perform much larger and more complicated tasks for tens of thousands of dollars per year, you couldn’t manage that insignificant task? Your first impression hasn’t exactly inspired great confidence.


I am interested in the_______position.
I have_______years as________.
Please review my attached resume for consideration.

Thank You

Jami Cat

I’m just laughing because, what else am I supposed to write?
The details are on the resume, which includes:

Contact Info
10 years past verifiable work history

The OP just struck me as funny, as in Dr. Evil Laugh Funny.


OP just got a job and then that job function is to hire more people, by email.
Then OP tosses the applicants emails in the waste bin because there are too many to dig through and they are unspecified. (i.e., look at my attached resume)

So, he asks for applicants to specify in their email heading as their qualifications.
Fine and dandy. If it was asked for in the offer , then the applicants should comply.

That wasn’t that part that got me laughing.

It’s the part where people have job offers with NOTHING specific in it other than say, like these classics…

“We need a Manager who can manage”,
“Welder wanted - apply within - must know welding”.
“Need someone who can do stuff ASAP”.

Unfortunately, I Have to apply to these jobs and the only way to do it is to be as non descriptive as they are in the email heading.

After a year of nothing and about 300 applications. I see why now I have no calls.

Because, no one wants to do THEIR OWN F’ING JOB. (not flaming OP)

That job is to look over resumes for qualified individuals to fill a position.

I can hear all the HR people whining, from my house, about they have to work so much looking for applicants and they don’t have time for their Twitters, Facebook, Straight Dope or whatever application they use to goof off on.

Which brings me to the conclusion that the OP was taken on to do the job of someone else that didn’t want to do it either.

As the Op stated, if you tell someone how to apply, they better do it like that then, you are correct.


I’m going to try and be nice and not a bitch (I’m chick, btw). . . But yeah. That may be part of it. It doesn’t matter how awesome your resume is. If I need to open a resume in Word or Acrobat just to ascertain if you are or are not one of the many utterly unqualified people who are just spamming job adds because Unemployment requires them to. . . I can afford to discard you. Nothing personal. I have 211 resumes. I might come back to you if I don’t get enough candidates out of them, but then I might not.

Again. 211 resumes. You have to screen somewhere. People screen for much pettier things than I do, I assure you.

You can hate HR all day long. You can hate overloaded non-HR people like myself. Neither of those things is going to be anywhere near as helpful as putting useful information-- or even your whole resume-- as text in your email.

It’s an employer’s market. I know, I was very recently in it.

One of my sources for work is a webpage specifically geared towards my field. The main ways to submit a quote for a job posted there are, in no particular order:

  1. email, which normally asks for some specific information to be listed in the subject (usually, which languages do you work in)
  2. the webpage itself
  3. the webpage of the company posting the position

So far I’ve had three jobs through them; two of them mentioned that I was among the few people who had listed the language pair in the header subject, as required. In one case, only two people out of over 100 had listed the language pair. The two of us got the job.

The webpage’s form asks you to give the submission a title and specifies “do not use something generic like ‘high quality’, most customers will disregard those.”

I must say, I wouldn’t want to hire a translator or editor who can’t read well enough to follow those basic instructions.

What sort of screen process would you recommend? That the first level HR person read and consider every single resume that comes in?

That’s what cover letters are for.

If your cover letter consists of

and no one bites, that’s your fault.

Looking at the applicant screening process, the OP’s position is rather unusual, in that an actual human is doing the first round of elimination. Most large companies I know of have three levels your resume must pass through before it lands on the hiring manager’s desk.
[li]A computer screening program that will scan the cover letter for keywords. If your cover letter does not have the keywords, usually found in the job posting, it will not even get to be seen by a person.[/li][li]A person who has about thirty seconds per cover letter to determine whether an applicant may be qualified for the posting.[/li][li]An HR manager who examines the resume to determine whether the applicant is qualified.[/li][/ol]

The cover letter is the key. Let me recommend the T-Letter. The author of that article recommends just sending the T-letter, and then making the company ask for you resume. I think that’s… (how to put this nicely) fucking nuts. I will testify that after sending out two resumes a day for eight months being just as descriptive as you seem tot be, I switched over to the T-letter, and got two interviews within two weeks.

Good luck on getting a job.

This is precisely what I need to do when looking for candidates. If you can write something like a T-letter, where you clearly match up requirements and how you qualify, you’ll go to the top of my interview list. If I have to hunt for that information, I’ll probably move on to the next guy.

Oh, but, include a resume. I’m not going to call you just to wait a few hours while you tweak your resume. Too much work. Send it with the T-letter.

Last time I was looking for a job, there was a thing called a news paper. That news paper had job listings, those listings had Company names, address and/or phone numbers.
You had to psychically go there to apply, and then have to call back…and call back… and call back, until you get an interview.

Now fast forward 10 years, and this is what we have.

These are a few gripes.

1: Pre-screening software, that can only be as good as the person that puts in the variables, if you miss a word in you application the software wants, good bye to you.

2: People looking for catch words/phrases in the initial text or title, every Recruiter/Rep has their own tastes, words aren’t black and white, they get interpreted by people differently.

3: People not understanding that 25 years of variable experience in a field with no diplomas or certificates greatly out weighs a recent grad with a diploma from Joe’s Internet College.

4: Employers putting in way too many qualifications for something that any normal well adjusted person could do or learn with little training and no degree.

I am one of those people in between.
I have 25 years exp and 15 credits from a reputable College in my field.
I am over skilled for most things I have to apply for, and under qualified for things I should be doing.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t pre-screen or do a quick look over at potential candidates. I am saying that the screening process has a lot to be desired.

What does an HR Rep know about manufacturing or construction other than the Manager or Supervisor says "Hey, we need someone that can do “this”, where as “that” will work just as well, but HR wont know “that” unless it was stated.

Apparently, Managers and Supervisors all need Masters Degrees in Manufacturing or Construction now.
All the ones I know and worked with, have been with a company for 20 years to get to that position and had never had to be re-educated to do their job either.

So, here I am SOL…This is why I laugh because this has all become silly.

Oh, and thanks for the tip’s on my application process, maybe it will help me get by the CENSORS. :smiley:

(didn’t mean for this to turn into a great debate :P)

[too late to edit]
Under qualified was meant to be under educated. :rolleyes:

And in those past ten years, we’ve updated the rules for writing resumes too. No longer do they need to be 1-page max. And now that we use screeners and internet searches to filter candidates, you’re allowed to put in a ‘keywords’ section.

At the bottom of your resume, put “keywords:” and list out every word you can think of that relates to your job. For example, an IT tech might put

“Keywords: CISCO BA BS Computer science PHP ascii software developer development developing html internet web visual basic for applications vba excel word MS office powerpoint SQL Oracle VAPS ASP JAVA” and go on for 5 or 6 lines. That’s totally acceptable if your work has a lot of acronyms, programs, and certifications that you could possibly need.

I’m not in the IT or computer field, so maybe my opinion counts for nothing, but I’d look at a resume like that in the same way as I’d look at a website with a huge list of random words at the bottom of its main page to try to bump it up the search page ladder. It’s sloppy and amateurish.

What it boils down to is that a job applicant can’t win. The OP wants a cover letter(email body), but doesn’t say that the ad/posting requested a cover letter. While I feel ya on the instruction about the subject line that is not being followed – I’d dump those people, too – this is yet another case of an HR person/hiring manger having secret rules the applicant must follow. While I always use a cover letter / email, there are plenty of HR mgrs / recruiters / consultants who say DON’T send a cover letter since so many companies now use resume scanning software and the cover letter is pointless and bothersome and nobody reads them anyway.

If you want applicants to do certain things to apply for the job, include that information. Don’t assume that they are going to know what you, the hiring person, does to screen applicants.

How about listing the keywords as hidden or white text? Is that a reasonable option? Would it work?

Anytime you email a resume or other materials, you have to attach it to something. You might as well put text there. Some places might not read it, but I can’t fathom that anyone would hold it against you. Unless the ad says something to the contrary. “Here’s my application” is not very compelling.

I’ve read plenty of “stupid resume screener” stories here and elsewhere, but I can’t muster sympathy for applicants who can’t follow directions.

OMFG…I sat here making another post, for 20 min…and the history vanished from having to reloggin’ in…

I swear it was a good post…what ever it was. :rolleyes:

Meanwhile, the HR person is saying “I’m not a mind reader!”


I just have too many resumes. It’s not a “requirement”, but I need to thin somehow. I didn’t expect this many. I can’t read them all. If someone can’t be bothered to type anything beyond “here’s my resume”, then obviously they aren’t as interested as the people who did bother to write something in the damn email.

Inability to follow instructions is one way to screen, but there’s a certain lack of forethought and consideration displayed in the no-cover-letters that’s a useful screen, too. Are they the type that’s at home getting their panties in a twist because they don’t want to “jump through hoops”? Are they going to be inattentive/careless when hired, too? No thanks, next.

Nava, I bet the employers get at least one email entitled simply “Language Pair” for every job. I always did.

(psychically = spell check says it was right, even though It looked funny to me…hehe)

Physically, meaning dressing for the occasion and be presentable every application, not just wake up at noon and sit naked by a glow wiz box and tossing in random bits of here I’izzims.