sad woman

I’ve been interviewing candidates for a position I have open for a Marketing Assistant, and many of the candidates whose resumes caught my eye had, as their academic background, a degree in the humanities.  Frankly, I saw one of the best cover letters I’d ever read in my life from one of the applicants (and I’ve been a hiring manager for 25 years!) She was not an English major (alas), but she did minor in Spanish, and she wrote an outstanding letter!  Unfortunately for her, in a pool of 100+ applicants, she didn’t have quite the skills or experience I need for this specific job, but wow, could she write a letter.

            Here’s why it was good:  It had a voice.  Clearly the person who wrote it was curious, mature, had a sense of humor and a sense of humility.  It had a great opening sentence.  Not your usual “blah blah, please consider me, I am interested, etc., etc.”  It was just the right length (about four paragraphs) and it contained specific references to my business.  She had obviously looked at my web site long enough to get a sense about what I do and where she might augment what I was doing.  Last but not least, it was well edited—contained no typos, no punctuation errors, no grammatical goofs.

            But, as I said, the resume didn’t have enough on it to qualify her for an interview.  (I did reply to her email telling her what a great letter it was and giving her some ideas where she might look instead.) 

            As I mentioned, I’ve been interviewing.  Last time I went through a round of interviews, I had one candidate who just didn’t show up.  We had an appointment, but he didn’t show.  This time, same thing. 

            If there is one cardinal sin of interviewing, a sin for which there is no acceptable atonement, it would be not showing up.  There’s no excuse for not showing up.  The candidate who didn’t show emailed me the next day to say she’d gotten lost, ran out of cell phone battery so couldn’t call, assured me she wasn’t “like that,” and asked to come and see me that afternoon.

            I replied to her apologetic email that it was unfortunate she got lost, but “there are some things in life for which there are no second chances.  This is one of them.”

            Moral of the story:  Never miss an interview.  This may sound like the biggest bit of “well, duh” advice you ever heard, but this is the second time in six months I’ve had someone just not show.  So it must not be common knowledge.

            Even if you don’t think you want the job, don’t blow off the interview.  Why not?  Because it’s a small world, and it’s not unthinkable that you’ll run into that hiring manager again—next time you apply for a job at that same company, or at a company he or she goes to work for, or at a professional event, or through the friend of a colleague.  The world is growing smaller by the day, and you can no longer depend on anonymity to hide your past misdeeds.

            Besides that, would you want someone to blow you off?  Of course not.  “Do unto others” is the best guideline for professionalism there is.


2 thoughts on “No Second Chances

  1. Thanks for the comments about cover letters and professionalism. Of the candidates who did show up to the interview, what did the successful ones do to stand out?

  2. Hi there,

    I’ve been voraciously reading your blog on this snowy day. I am very curious as to what the applicant with the Spanish minor said on their cover letter. Do you care to share that information?

    I am an English major graduate and have not found a full-time job since graduation of May 2009. Several gaps in my resume might repel hiring managers and my cover letters have gone stale because I’ve written many types that don’t seem to catch their attention. I’d very much like a heart-to-heart talk/email about applying for jobs.

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