There is something very reassuring about mail. I reckon it’s a key indicator of a modern, functioning civilisation (along with safe and efficient garbage disposal but that’s a story for another day). Almost without exception mail gets to its destination. Same goes for email. And so when an email doesn’t bounce its in an inbox. I knew that the email address I had guessed and sent that note to was sitting and waiting to be read or trashed.
I’d probably reread my message 50 times after I’d sent it. It was by no means awe-inspiring. A reference to our lunch-time seminar encounter, a genuine interest in this amazing company that I’d now discovered (although I had already come across a few of the sites the company owned without making the link) and that was pretty much it. No call to action. No invitation to meet. Nothing like that. Just a friendly note saying ‘hey’.
Like I mentioned previously, it was over a month until I got the first reply and, befitting to my original message, it was short and sweet and not much else. It didn’t matter. I was in. I knew that: 1. My contact had at the very least remembered who I was 2. Had the time to send a reply to my email and 3. I had the opportunity to share my new-found excitement about a company that was doing great things. I replied after a little while with some more insight into the company. I had researched and looked closely at some of the upcoming challenges that I thought a company like that one might face peppered with actual facts I’d gathered from the company blog. Low and behold after about a month again I had received another reply. This time it was a little more engaging with some of the issues I’d brought up and so I had now established an ongoing dialogue with a woman I’d met for 3 minutes about the company she worked for and the company I knew I had to work for. And so as the story goes, every month or so we would exchange a note. Friendly and informative but not so much outcome orientated. That was about to change.
I can’t remember the exact timing exactly but it was a while after the first email dialogue that I had started looking in earnest for other work. There was no indication that this company was hiring. The woman I’d been exchanging emails didn’t mention a job opportunity (neither had I). A few of the searches I’d conducted on job seeking sites didn’t yield any results until one day, there it was, a job ad describing me and what I did to a tee with a description of culture that sounded too good to be true. I picked up the phone and called the number on the footer of those emails. It was a job ad to work in partnership with my email pen pal.
There was no hesitation this time. I called direct and was greeted with yet another, short, friendly and informative ‘we’d be glad to consider your application, send it to email@example.com’. Although it sounded pretty cold to me at the time, I knew there was some value in the brief email relationship I had going and so I was quietly confident that if I put together a reasonable written application I should get a chance to interview.
The ad contained a few typical job ad instructions but the requirement to include: “the law is an ass but fortunately I like donkeys” in the subject line of the cover letter really set the mood for what I was getting myself into. Unlike any other letter I’d written, this one was straight from the heart. I feel another tip coming on…Tip #4: Always be yourself. Be honest and true to who you are. There is nothing more real than being you, human being and all. And so that is what I tried to convey on paper, in a letter that was supposed to get me an opportunity to speak to someone about this job in person. It worked! I’d convinced who ever it was that made the call that I was worthy of meeting face-to-face. I was ecstatic to say the least.
In preparing for interviews, you do your homework on the company and the people. You try and find out, albeit from the outside in, what makes these people tick. What makes them want to work for their company and do what they do. There’s a tip for sure. Tip #5: prepare, prepare and then prepare some more.
Everything I had learnt about the company in my research confirmed my initial thoughts about how amazing this place was (and is). Now to convince them that I was worth hiring…