Surviving and thriving and getting that professional archives position.

Welcome. If you're here, you're probably wondering how to get some job--maybe the perfect professional archives position or maybe just something you can use as a springboard--and you're seeking advice on how to do that. From searching for advertisements to writing a resume or cover letter to making it through the interview. And hopefully even beyond.

No guarantees, you probably already know a lot of this, but maybe some help from a lot of people who want to make sure that good candidates get good jobs. If you've got better advice? or need further explanation? Please share in the comments.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Meta part 2: Follow-up, anyone?

Okay.  The next question I asked was: Do you want candidates to follow up with you regarding the status of their application.

Guess what?  Bad question--or at least I structured it badly. The short of it is that there's no single answer to this.  What will work with one recruiter will clearly not work with the next.  Like I said at the beginning of this, there's no surefire way to do anything in a job hunt.  There's no perfection here.  Answers were mixed from  no to yes, it shows interest. What do you do? I don't know.  I cannot figure out the answer to this one.  Review your observations on the interview and try to recall if they said anything about where the search went from here. But don't assume that their reticence to give you response on a follow-up is a sign of where you are in the rankings.  To be blunt, it could be. Maybe you're not the candidate of first choice or top tier but they still don't want to write you off or have you write yourself off, so they're justifiably anxious about saying something wrong to you.  I once received a letter after a phone interview where the recruiter said, basically, that I hadn't make the cut to the top tier but she wanted to know if something happened to their top tier, would I still be willing to interview?  That was years ago, but I still haven't decided whether I appreciated the honesty or would have preferred to wait for a definite yes/no. But there are other possibilities. They may not know themselves.  There's always a good portion of the search where the decision is out to somebody else for approval.

I find this all rather fascinating. Here's some of the other statements they made.  For your viewing pleasure. 
  • HR handles, although I can respond to additional questions regarding the nature of the job.
  • I do not have time to respond; it's not a rule. Because of lack of time, I get irritated.
  • Thank you/summary after the interview; one follow up if the process takes more than a week or two.
  • HR handles all inquiries.
  • There's not a lot we can say.
  • Thank you note after interview is always appreciated.
  • Brief follow-ups to ensure application has been received are OK. Aggressive follow-ups have a negative impact.
  • I wouldn't know. HR does but rarely communicates that to the committee.
  • They may if they wish
  • We always let people know we have received applications, we also let people know after a phone interview whether or not we will conduct an in-person; and let all in-person candidates know whether or not we will make a job offer
  • Doesn't matter to me, really.
  • Don't care one way or the other
  • It does not influence me one way or the other
  • If a candidate has been interviewed in person, they may follow up.
  • I only mind if the person does it in a demanding way.
So you see what I mean about mixed messages.  But since a couple of the respondents mentioned another thread, let me go there.  Thank you notes.  Do you write them? Is it not worth the effort?

I was taught, and I don't recall when or where, that thank you notes were obligatory. Am I right? Apparently not, or not entirely. 42% of respondents say a thank you is unnecessary after a phone interview. 21% say it is unnecessary after an in-person interview.  However: don't read unnecessary as something you should not do.  Many of those who said it was unnecessary still filled in some blanks on what type of thank you they prefer to receive or specifically noted that while it might be unnecessary, it was not unwelcome.  It may or may not figure into their calculations (probably not) but there's a lot of things that don't figure into the calculations that still needs to be done. With this one, I'd go with the percentages.  Either email or handwritten and quickly, not so much phone call. If for no other reason than the strictly practical: if it's a search committee, a written (or email) thank you has the possibility to reach all of them with one effort. With a phone call you can either call the whole committee or you can hope that the person you do reach remembers to pass on the message.

And here's the nice part. From a purely practical perspective, a thank you note allows you to do that follow-up check in under the guise of courtesy and manners and not as a nagging "why haven't you called me yet."  Reiterating your interest in the position and availability, that sort of thing. You might not get an answer, but you might not get an answer with a follow-up query anyhow.

So assuming you get an offer, what are the deadlines for you?

If you are offered a position, 95% of respondents expect an answer within a week. 30% of them want the answer within a day or two. Of the three respondents that answered with "other", one said one to two weeks, one said if there's other constraints like children they might be willing to wait a little longer, and the third said that it depends on the job: if something with time constraints it will have to be quicker, if not, it could be a little longer. Keep in mind that some places may have HR rules that only give them a certain amount of time as a couple of our respondents were very careful to point out.

My take? Whatever you ask for, be careful how you phrase. If you want more than a couple of days, have a solid reason for it. You're mostly in the driver's seat at this point, but depending on the institution and the person doing the asking, you may not be.

And since I'm heading that direction, once you say yes, when are you expected to show up?  Time frames are scattered from about two weeks to over a month, to "it doesn't matter." Within about a month or so isn't out of line.  Some exceptions exist. Sometimes it depends on the candidate (how far the hire has to move, significant others, children, current obligations.)  Generally if they have a specific start date required, you will find that either in the job ad or it will be told to you at some point.  Some noted that start dates are controlled by outside powers, one academic reminded that start dates are usually predicated on semester start dates (not true for all academic institutions though).  And on those with a specific required start date, one respondent noted that if the candidate could not meet the required date, the position would be offered to the next person in line.  I hope that, in most cases, a specific start date if required will be made clear to you somewhere during the process.

So guess what? We're nearly at the end of the recruiter survey.  I had two last questions: 1) If you were to give candidates any specific advice on how to approach a job search with your organization, what would it be? and 2) anything else you think needs to be said?  So that's the next set of postings.

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