Presenting Yourself in Writing

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  • Eight-to-five work in early years isn't likely to lead to rapid advance or to prepare you for un-predicated opportunities. If you are really in-terested you ought to be doing more. If you are a clock-watcher you aren't likely to develop in-terest . If you aren' t interested in your job you ought to consider a change.

    Few technical curricula deal heavily in human relations. The technically trained man has become accustomed to dealing with perfectly reproducible resul ts and expects the same reaction every t ime under identical conditions and usually to working in systems with a relatively small number of vari-ables. This is as easy as shooting fish in a bowl compared with getting near perfect performance out of a system composed of human beings. Keep in mind tha t you are part of a system made up of human beings and your dealings with the others in t h a t system a n going to have a very definite influence on what happens to you personally. Keep in mind the fact tha t it is not only you but each of your colleagues who is hoping to come out with a little more than an average share of the good th ings of the world and to see everything that he or she is concerned with run as he or she would like i t . Remember that you don't prefer to work among people who are unpleasant to you or who are totally unconcerned with the interests of their colleagues. Technical progress has not yet made the Golden Rule obsolete.

    Don't Underestimate

    Advice to the novice can't be specific on s tar t ing a career. But one warning can't go wrong: Don't underestimate the value of the first five years. I t ' s a time for feeling about and driving hard to gain experience and perspective before responsi-bilities are taken on to the point where flexibility may be reduced. Willingness to t ry new things is important. Many a man has been amazed to find what he could do by undertaking a project where he had no proof that he could succeed. Such ventures do wonders for self-confidence and this is basically important as he makes his way in the world against increasing competition.

    Apparent failure early in life is not a very spe-cific thing, but a lot en be learned from it. So the young man shouldn't move in fear of undertaking something that might be difficult. The results of coming off well are a much greater positive in-fluence on the rest of his life than would be a lack of success and there is always much to be learned for future use from the latter.

    Habits and att i tudes will be formed during the first five years and if they are based on serious study, acute observation, and lessons from experi-ence they can develop the personal characteristics tha t make for success. And it probably is not overdoing it to say that able people are produced through such development and that truly able people can do a good job almost anywhere. Work at th i s and at learning what you really get satis-faction from doing and the chances of failure are nearly eliminated.

    Presenting Yourself in Writing CLARENCE H. WEISSENSTEIN

    Director, Technical Personnel Recruitment, Atlantic Research Corp.

    S o you're looking for a job? You've got some sell-ing to do ! Before you start out, make absolutely sure it 's the thing: you want to do, then go after it in earnest. Job shopping soon becomes appar-ent and seldom builds a substantial career.

    The technical recruiter scans a staggering num-ber of letters, resumes, and formal applications. What does he look for most ; what is it that catches his eye and imagination; stimulates his interest?

    These questions aren't answered in one simple sentence, but among the many variables leading to the hiring of any technical man, his written pres-entation plays a major role.

    The first inquiry letter is used by the prospec-tive employer to screen out those applicants with training and ability meeting the job requirements. It is the only evidence he has of your qualifica-tions, and it is vital that your letter be concise, businesslike, to the point, and yet contain most of the pertinent facts. I t is an all-important intro-duction

    This introduction is more effective when kept simple, and, like a baked potato, will lose its savor if overdone. Flowery or wordy phraseology is out of place, and the technical personnel recruiter takes a jaundiced view of a bulky, verbose master-piece.

    Preintervew Correspondence

    Several people in the organization will need to evaluate your talents and seldom would these peo-ple all know you personally. The initial corre-spondence usually constitutes your first contact with your prospective employer.

    The impact that this initial and subsequent let-ter has on the recruiter may largely determine whether the meeting will culminate in "courtship and marr iage." In this first letter, a brief state-ment of how you came to learn of the company and where you feel you might contribute is always in order. A request for additional company liter-ature is also pertinent. You can include a short statement on your reason if you are seeking to make a career change.

    The Resume

    What constitutes an adequate initial contact? If you are not sure the organization is seeking

    persons with your qualifications, a simple inquiry letter may suffice. However, you stand the risk of losing valuable t ime in supplying the additional information they will need for s tart ing a thorough examination. If you know you are seriously in-terested in the organization, self-interest dictates the inclusion of a resume as well. If you know

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  • the organization is seeking persons with your qualifications, courtesy dictates it.

    Your resume should be prepared with care, not too long or too short, neat, orderly in arrangement, and on good quality paper. There are no "standard" forms, for each person's resume will contain information pertinent only to him. While individualism is generally good, the resume is not the proper stage for exotic presentations such as "Have Talent, Will Negotiate," or "Are You Looking for Vice Presidential Ability a t an Office Boy's Salary?" Likewise, copyrighted resumes are not as effective as the composer might think. Photographs are not necessary or desirable at this point.

    The information in a resume will be most appreciated when it is presented in a definite sequence that gives a simple and chronological picture of your life, school, and work. A typical presentation which may be used as a guide is described on page 5.

    The Follow-up Most companies make every effort to reply to

    applicants' inquiries as soon as possible, but delays may result. If the initial correspondence is not acknowledged in a reasonable length of t ime (one to two weeks), a follow-up letter is certainly justified and you will usually find it most effective. Your follow-up letter should likewise be businesslike, short, and courteous and include a copy of the original letter as an enclosure. If this doesn't draw a reply, then the company selected is really "snowed" with applications, or your choice of companies may not have been a wise one in the first place. In any case, patience is golden and will earn the recruiter 's appreciation.

    The Employer's Reaction The response to your first letter is usually di

    rectly proportional to your training and experience and also to your ability to present your case effectively. Some of the factors that influence the recruiter 's reactions are : addressing by name, neatness, tone, conciseness, spelling, grammar, sincerity, and honesty. The effect of each of these is sometimes subconscious; however, each does

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    ^ mill I ""^^B C L A R E N C E H . WEISSEN-S8f ' ^ STEIN, director of technical per-4Kgpps ' \ . Y, sonnel recruitment for Atlantic

    ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ B ^ * that organization since 1952.

    "^^^^^ ~% chemical engineering from Car-

    ^ ^ ^^ * n a ddi t ion. he has done some BflHHS99BMH9B3H graduate study in industrial and B ^ ^ ^ S ^ S ^ B 3 ^ ^ B | personnel management. He then

    spent two vears with Hazel-Atlas Glass Co. as a color chemist in coatings and lacquers, fol-T..T -rsri Ky Hvr> vcars n th^ Arm ("" - s of ! fir f****? rTf* then worked as a manufacturing engineer with West ing-house Electric Co., in plastics molding, and finishing unti l o=co J. CS'S^a.

    have an effect on the reviewer, whether good or bad.

    Addressee. It is better to write the letter to a definite person, if at all possible. The Director of Technical Personnel is usually the logical person to whom such a letter of application is addressed .

    Neatness. One of the big factors in making a letter of application more appealing is neatness. A typed letter is usually well worth the extra effort. Individually typed letters are more attractive to the person doing the screening, if they have been prepared on the standard typewriter with black type. Brilliant 'Wors attract attention but distract from the content of the letter which is all important. The personnel man likes to feel that his company has been singled out by the applicant. Even though the candidate may be sending this information to several companies, each copy should give the appearance of individual pi epaJtttiuii .

    Tone. As for the actual covering letter itself, the general tone is important. The applicant is the one who is seeking the job and should govern his wording accordingly. Tone means the difference between a favorable or an unfavorable impression on the part of the recruiter. The candidate must put himself in the position of the man to whom he is writing by approaching the prospective employer from his point of view. While it is advisable and necessary to pttt the -S foot forwa*v by empha-sizing the "plus" values, the letter of application is not the place to become egotistical- It is best to avoid such expressions as "Outstanding success" ( use instead, "I was successful in synthe-sizing, etc. . . . " ) , "Extremely popular" (use "I enfoyed my professional associates and got along well with them" ). which appeared in a formidable resume crossing the writer's desk recently. Our past accomplishments are usually done with someone else . . . didn't anyone else play a part in those past achievements? Above all, be sincere in your presentation of the facts. Remember, at this point, this letter is the personnel man's only means of judging you as a person, so be yourself. Of course, you should not lose sight of the fact that grammar and phraseology are keys to effective presentation.

    =5=3=55*| Usess, Cri?:ar. spemg3 and sentence struc-ture are nearly as important as the content itself. Gone are the days when it was taken for granted that "everyone knows engi-neers and scientists are notoriously poor writers." Presentation of your past in die form of a written resume is a specific illustra-tion of your organizing and writing ability. The student in college who recognizee any weakness in this area may still have time to perfect good writing habits by brushing upnow. Time invested here will pay dividends when your first resume hits the desk of the recruiter.

    Your Second Letter

    Upon receiving a request for additional infor-mation, don't get the idea that your first letter brought results, so now you can relax. On the con-t rary , the second letter is picked apart even more when it reaches the personnel recruiter. Cer-tainly timing is important here. Promptness in replying may make the difference between getting the job or not. Perhaps the timing is as impor-tan t to the employer as it is to you. Most employ-ers will require some three to five weeks after the initial contact before an offer is made, in order to complete all checks and reviews. Your letter may reduce this time.

    This letter convinces others that, barr ing un-foreseen developments, you are the man to come in for the personal interview andpossiblyget the job. Here, as before, be concise and to the point. Complete any application blanks as sug-gested, for here the employer can determine your ability to follow instructions. Answer all ques-tions clearly and simply, whether on the applica-tion form or as a supplement to your original re-

    ( Continued on Odge )

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    New Text

  • Home and Addres s . This information is obvious, of course, but it is needed on the resume1 even though it should he on the application letter, also. T h e home tele-phone number will be appreciated and will speed up the collection of added in-fornmation and necessary arrangements for the interview visit.

    P r imen t Personal S t a t i s t i c s . Include your marital status, b i r thdate , birthplace, aji\ height, weight, draft status ( some people prefer to put this into a separate category "military service") , and citizen-ship.

    Educat ion. Most companies prefer that y mi go back through your high school training. Include courses taken, and class sturfcdiitg in high school as well as college.

    Q>uality point factor is also helpful, but rcmember to explain the particular factor system, e.g., A = 4 , B=r3. etc.

    AJ1 dates of schooling and degrees con-ferred or partial degree credits should be noted. There is sometimes a tendency to omit: the actual degree conferred, e.g., ""U.S., Purdue, 1958." "B.S. Chemistry, Purdue, 1958," is better .

    Experience. Since your experience is the part of your resume that is unique, this is really what you have to sell. Even vvhem you are s taking your first job, you usually have pert inent experience not de-scribed bv vnnr school work. !):>i't ^et too wordy here, but try to include briefly all trhe pert inent work you have performed vvhich may catch the eye of the reviewer. Summarize the duties at each plat of employment in reverse order, with present employment listed first. A short descrip-iuk Win SUiiiC. O i t lOFgct to inciuin. actual dates. It might be noted here that one of t he first things that catches the eye of t h e veteran resume reviewer is a pat-terra of short periods of employment, i.e., less than two years. " job-hopping" can become a habi t . Extenuat ing circum-stances may b e the cause in one, two, or evem three instances, bu t a consistent rec-ord of this sort causes the recruiter to won-der how long you will stay wi th him.

    References . This first resume might also) contain professional references, al-though such information is not essential at this stage of the negotiations. References should always be given when employment negotiations advance to a later stage.

    P a t e n t s a n d Technical Publicat ions. By all means include this information in yoiEr resume, since a record of professional accomplishment will certainly enhance your chances.

    Technical Soc ie ty Affiliations. If you are or have been an active member of any technical or scientific society, mention it in your resume. Employers are especially interested in any administrative or house-keeping functions in which you may have participated.

    StrGCirrCiIcr Act iv i t ies . Your otlier interests and skills, such as hobbies, scou...