You Snooze, You Lose…..

By Barbara Hewitt

I’ve been thinking this week about how life speeds by…. The job search used to be a somewhat leisurely endeavor. Job seekers would find a job posting in a newspaper or other printed source, mail a resume and cover letter to the organization, and perhaps be contacted weeks later to arrange an interview. (I realize this is an extremely hard scenario for most current students to even imagine, but it is actually how I conducted my first job search out of graduate school!)

These days, however, the response can be almost immediate. This was reinforced to me last week when I took a phone call from a recruiter late Wednesday afternoon requesting an on-campus recruiting visit for the following Monday. Although I was a bit skeptical that we could turn around the process so quickly, the recruiter ended up interviewing almost 50 students during his visit to Penn and actually had to schedule an additional day on Tuesday to meet with all of the interested applicants. On a more personal front, we had an individual apply for a position in our office on Thursday and we were able to conduct a Skype interview with her on Friday. Skype has made the interviewing process much less costly and time intensive for both interviewers and candidates. The immediacy of feedback can be gratifying for job seekers who are quickly called for interviews. The downside, clearly, is that the large volume of digital applications employers receive results in many candidates never being contacted at all about positions if they are not considered strong candidates, which surely can be disappointing.

The moral of this blog post, however, is that effective job hunters must act quickly on an opening once they learn of it. Just because a job posting is scheduled to expire weeks or months later doesn’t mean that employers will wait that long to select a candidate – they often begin their interviews immediately. Smart job seekers will have their resumes polished and updated and be able to send them out relatively quickly. Of course, keep in mind that a slight delay is preferable to sending out sloppy, mistake-ridden materials, so do take the time to proofread your resume and cover letter thoroughly before hitting the submit button. (This lesson, too, was reinforced last week when I received a thank you email from another applicant addressed to someone I’ve never heard of….not the kind of impression one would hope to leave in thank you correspondence!)

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