First Contact


No, not with the aliens, but you may think so…

New technologies have caused a lot of changes, including that of job hunting in this brave new world. You will now find possible position choices in the newspapers and other traditional outlets, as well as online through LinkedIn.com, TheLadders.com, and many professional associations and company web sites. Most organizations will ask for an online job application, which has increased dramatically with larger organizations using computer applications to whittle down the applicant field.

The methodology used to contact an applicant once they have been separated from the herd has also changed. More than a dozen recruiters and recruiting managers responded to my research query are saying the same things. A telephone is still the primary method of first contact, yet more and more are using emails and LinkedIn messaging to establish that initial connection. And this is not only in the US, but overseas as well. Respondents from England and India are increasingly using LinkedIn as an applicant search and contact.

As I have said in the past, a resume is used to eliminate you from the applicant field. The same holds true with that first contact by the corporate or private recruiter. As Yu Yu Din who recruits in the U.S and in India wrote, “Phone interviews are done first after the email communication, to screen whether the candidate has the right skills for communicating on the phone. If not, [the applicant] would not advance to the next round.”

The number of organizations using LinkedIn as a recruiting tool is growing, but this micro-research is a bit skewed because the question was done on LinkedIn. Yet LinkedIn is seen as a highly reliable tool in talent research.

Back to your first contact and email and LinkedIn accounts, and some hints to make things run a little smoother.

1)    Steven Bonnell, who is not a recruiter, does provide a warning. “If you use your ingenuity to come up with an e-mail… be sure it is NOT a Business E-mail, or you may be ruining a possibly good relationship!” I couldn’t agree more.

Create a new email account using your full name as your business contact address. There has always been a curious negative stigma concerning free email accounts, but no more. AOL, Gmail, MSN and local ISPs all offer free email services so use one to your advantage.

2)       Write your response in your word processing program then copy and paste into the email AFTER you check your spelling and grammar. Michelle Wilke of New Orleans Based VeloCity Coaching provided me with her three part methodology.

ONE Written communication via e-mail first. This shows how formal or informal, appropriate or perhaps not … they are.It also shows if they can spell and create clear thoughts in written form.

TWO Written communication via their CV. How they format, what info they decide not to include and any signs of personality” can be illuminating as well.

THREE Phone call. How is their voice – strained or natural, are they “selling” or are they listening and communicating?

3)       Always answer your telephone as professionally as possible and be prepared to sit down and speak to the recruiter, even if it means rescheduling your conversation later. But do not take a recruiter’s phone call at work. So drop the “Yo yo, it’s me, talk” routine.

4)       Have your resume reasonably handy when you are answering any question concerning your employment history or your areas of expertise.

5)       This is a chance for “added value,” to include that one thing that is not on the resume. Just be sure it is appropriate for the recruiter, the information answers or clarifies a question, and shows how you made money, saved money or saved time for a business, client or organization.

But do not get too excited about the first contact if by mail, email or LinkedIn message. The recruiter usually wants a bit more information, or as Karen Siwak owner of Resumes Confidential put it, many recruiters now use an “Applicant Tracking System” with an auto-responder program so the “first contact that the job applicant will experience is via email, confirming that their resume has been received,” or asking for EEO information.

There is one more pertinent warning that comes from hiring manager Dan Lucarelli. “I just hired someone for my team, and my first contact was by telephone. I wanted to: 1. Check to see if the phone number the applicant provided was accurate. (You would be surprised!) 2. If they did not answer, how long would it take to return the telephone call? Several “good” candidates (at least on paper) were eliminated from consideration because they did not return my telephone call.”

Rosman Rule #16; Always return a recruiter’s phone call. The only excuses not to return a call are 1) your own death, 2) your are on your death bed, or 3) you have been abducted by aliens and are now off on an extended vacation to Alpha Centauri.

At this point, not one has talked about a video-conference or web-cam interview, but they are on the horizon. The rules will change again and again, and you must keep up on the technology if you want at least a chance of getting that first contact.

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About David Rosman

David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com, InkandVoice.com and NYJournalofBooks.com.
This entry was posted in Business Communication, Human Resources, Interviewing, Job Search, Resume Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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