Job hunting is a pain in the butt. Most companies have their own application areas that require you to manually copy your resume information into their web forms, and most job descriptions aren’t descriptive at all. Supposedly professional job-hunting websites don’t really make things any easier– for some reason, a simple search for “computer engineer” turns up jobs in sales, tech support, and mechanical engineering. And heaven help you if you want to sort by something useful such as required experience or salary.
Job applicants are expected to follow certain conventions when writing a resume or cover letter. I think expecting HR and management to follow similar rules isn’t out of the question. If you want to be taken seriously, be professional and follow these simple rules:
–Don’t waste applicants’ time. This is the cardinal rule. Filling out a job application takes a lot more time than it should, and yours isn’t the only company I’m applying for. I know you want to sort by experience and have things in a neat nice database, and I know you’ve got a computer to sort through the garbage, but I’ve already written a resume with the information on it. Respect my time by requesting a resume file first and then using it to pre-fill those forms as much as possible. (I’ve seen exactly one application site that did this, and it shows the company pays attention to its hiring process.) Don’t ask for information that isn’t computer sortable, because it’s all in the resume already. If your application process respects my time, I’ll take your job offer much more seriously.
–Write a descriptive job description. I’ve slogged through job descriptions that left me scratching my head afterward. “Assists senior project leads in achieving project goals.” Yes, but what is it that you actually DO? Most managers are good at mentioning the skills they want their applicants to have, and I may have a clear idea of the type of things your company does, but if you don’t describe specific duties and projects it’s hard to get excited about the position. Give specific examples if you can. Linking to the project page or Wikipedia is even better. Finally, don’t use terms that don’t apply. For example, using the title “Sales Engineer” to refer to a sales position is despicable. It clutters up every engineering listing, and just pisses off all of us who have real engineering degrees. You wouldn’t stick the word “Marketing” in an engineering position.
-Money talks. If you think your offer is truly reasonable, provide a salary range. Give me numbers, not the words “competitive salary”. Feel free to mention your fantastic benefits package somewhere, but if I’m going to spend time filling out your web form and flying out to your interview I need to know about how much you’re going to pay. Not disclosing this information implies that you know your competitors will pay more and your company is trying to rip me off.
–Sort your positions by experience. It’s extremely tough to find job offers for engineers with less than a year of experience, and senior staff don’t want to waste their time looking at junior positions. Why is it that I haven’t found a single site that lets me enter “Computer engineer” and sort by expected years of experience? I’d even settle for one that lets me post a resume, enter in the years of experience I have, and actually provides me with jobs that I’m qualified for, automatically excluding the ones I can’t take (no Master’s or PhD, for example). “We have job openings in every state” sounds great until you realize that the openings in your state are all for Senior Aviation Defrosting Technicians. “There are entry-level marketing positions available in California, New Mexico, Ohio, and Florida” is useful information. Your potential applicant might say, Hey, I never thought about it but Albuquerque sounds nice. I’ll apply for that job.
–Make sure your site works. General Dynamics has a professional-looking website, but clicking a referral link to a specific job doesn’t work. Searching by the reference number kicks back an error page saying I don’t have cookies enabled (I do). I had to open it up in Internet Explorer for the search to work properly, and then it required me to log in before even seeing the job description. Intel’s site won’t let you open up and compare several job offers in tabs, complaining that you need to close other windows from their site first. An unprofessional job site design reflects poorly on your company. Qualified job hunters will go elsewhere.
–Don’t list entry-level positions under “recent college grads”. Some people switch careers, some shift from one sub-specialty to another, and some have taken a break for one reason or another. Quite a few of these people are still highly qualified. Some might even be better at broad-discipline skills such as teamwork and presentations than those right out of university. These people aren’t college grads, nor are they “experienced professionals”. Rename your “college grads” link to “entry level positions”, and watch the unique resumes roll in.