Are We There Yet?  Mindful Communication with Employers Leading Up To TPE Onsite

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    Mike Lorenz
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As a hiring manager, I get a lot of emails and other communication from candidates. There’s some very appropriate and meaningful communication, as well as some not-so-needed contact. Patience is key in the job-search process. For every email you send an employer, remember that they could be receiving dozens. This shouldn’t discourage you from asking questions and responding to their messages, but blurring the lines of what’s appropriate can easily happen. It’s a double-edged sword—although employers expect to hear from you as candidates within a short period of time, you possibly won’t hear from the employer for weeks after you submit your application.

Let’s start from the beginning; letting the employer know you’re interested. When you view the posting on the TPE Job Board, pay close attention. Do they want you to email them directly? Do you have to go to their HR website? For instance, the Boston College posting specifically states to apply via our HR site, but every year I receive a handful of candidates who email me their resume directly. This then triggers unnecessary communication and time wasted for both parties, as well as showing the employer that you may not read instructions carefully.

When it comes to submitting your materials, details matter. Here are a few quick things to note:

  1. Once you start submitting resumes and cover letters, it gets very easy to lose sight of details, such as position title (Resident Director vs. Hall Director, etc.), Institution Title (don’t use abbreviations such as BC, use Boston College), etc. 
  2. Your resume and cover letter should be in PDF format, otherwise, when the employer goes to open/print the document, it may come out distorted or in a different format than intended. 
  3. When saving your resume or cover letter, make sure your name is part of the document title (for ex. Mike Lorenz Resume). You should never just save the document as “resume” or “cover letter”.
  4. If an employer asks you to email them your materials directly, you shouldn’t send multiple emails with different versions or formats, and you shouldn’t send your whole resume/cover letter as text in the body of the email. 

After submitting your materials, the waiting game begins. Review the posting carefully to see if there was a timeline given; often employers will not begin reviewing resumes until closer to the event. If you don’t hear anything right away, don’t panic as there is a lot happening this time of year (typically hiring professional staff is just a fraction of an employer’s job) and email volume for employers can get very heavy. If you haven’t heard back, an appropriate time to reach out is in late February, or 2 to 3 weeks from TPE Onsite. A simple inquiry of where they are at in their reviewing process is acceptable. If you don’t have a contact person, you may call or email the main office and ask to whom to direct your question. 

After the waiting and when the time comes to schedule a TPE Onsite interview, pay attention to the wording from the employer within the email message or phone call. Are the employer assigning you a specific time slot? Are they asking for your schedule on specific days/times? Once you schedule and hear back with a confirmation—either via the TPE system or email—that may be it until the actual interview. If you do not hear back with a confirmation then you may reach out a week or two prior to TPE Onsite to inquire about the correct day/time of your interview. 

My last piece of advice would be to encourage you to avoid being too casual in your communication. Details, such as position title and name of the contact, spelling and grammar, etc. can make a big difference. Mirror the language and style of the employer, but, when all else fails, err on the side of professional. I would avoid using many exclamation points, smiley faces or emoticons, and slang terms. 

The job search process can be a challenge for both employers and candidates alike. As a candidate you deserve detailed communication and honesty about the status of your application and interview. However, remember that employers are managing many variables, and may need patience from candidates, too. Being yourself and keeping your composure are the best keys to success in the job-search process.

Good luck and we’ll see you in Indianapolis!

Mike is currently the Associate Director of Selection, Development, and Formation at Boston College, and has been coordinating their TPE Onsite team for five years.

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