"Linux Gazette...making Linux just a little more fun!"

The Answer Guy

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

(?)Resume Spam

From Prblnd on 24 Aug 1998


I'm just a LittleGuy, out-of-work..Looking for AS/400 platform and somebody said I should tell you!

Your assertion that "somebody said" you should tell me sounds very suspicious. If it is true that "somebody" said you should tell me about your plight --- that person is either stupid or cruel. I'm not a hiring manager. I'm not a recruiter. I have nothing whatsoever to do with AS/400's (no slight intended, they sound like nice enough systems).

(?)Question: Can you assist me to find a new start?

(!)I probably could. However, the fact that you blindly sent this to me without any evident research into who I am and what I do suggests that time spent on assisting you would be wasted.
However, here's the assistance I will offer:
Don't waste your time or anyone else's by blindly spamming addresses out of the blue. Do your homework. Send messages to those who are looking for them and expecting them. Make it clear in your message how you selected them and why you hold an expectation that they have requested your message.
You message's semantics are horrible. The spelling and punctuation are reasonable. However, the phrase "looking for AS/400 platform" doesn't make sense. I presume you are looking for work that is "related to the AS/400" or that "requires expertise with AS/400's." I understand the difficulties faced by people for whom English is not native; however, you want to find someone who is literate and fluent in English to help you edit your messages to potential employers.
Desperation is repugnant to most well-balanced people. Are you really looking for a "new start?" I would suggest that you focus on just getting a new job. You don't want to throw suggestions about "other" problems into the faces of potential employers.

The phrase "a new start" is idiomatic to Americans and suggests such unsavory failures as incarceration/ institutionalization, divorce, and/or drug treatment. These are the sorts of total failures that require someone to look for a "new start." Merely getting laid off or even fired is merely enough to look for a "new job."

Also it is generally useless to appeal to a potential employer's sympathies. If I were a hiring manager I don't care if you are a "LittleGuy" or a major political, philosophical or intellectual figure.

Hiring managers care if you can do the job they need for the price they are willing to pay. Given multiple applicants that meet their pre-requisites they are generally swayed by much more subjective criteria (such as whether you are related to them, whether you are previously aquainted, and whether they "like" you, etc).

So, you want to maintain a "positively neutral" (and "upbeat") tone in your dealings with potential employers.

With that in mind let's re-write your message to me:

------------------------ Begin Rewrite ---------------------------

Dear Mr. Dennis,
Sam Ockman told me that you have lots of contacts throughout the industry. When I mentioned to him that I'm looking for a new position (systems administration, preferably on AS/400) he suggested that I drop you a note.
I've attached my resume. Please feel free to share it with any of your associates that might be interested. I'm in Sri Lanka, North Dakota --- but I'm happy to relocate.
Also, any suggestions you have would be deeply appreciated. I've looked through some of the sites that are listed in Yahoo!'s "Employment" sections. There are so many of those that I'm not sure where to start.

------------------------ End Rewrite ---------------------------

Note: we use a real name here. We don't use an alias. You could have searched for "answerguy" on Yahoo! gives 242 references and apparently 222 of them point to me. (I'm not the one on CAGTV --- http://www.tag@lists.linuxgazette.net, and I'm not the one from Square One Tech (http://www.squareonetech.com) Nor am I listed on Global Online Electronic Services (http://www.goes.com)). My full name is published in every article.
We start of by saying precisely who sent you to me, and why. If you were referred through some traffic on a newsgroup or mailing list --- say so!
Next we state our purpose. Nothing fancy --- just ask as directly and simply as possible. If you expected that I would be hiring --- tell me why you thought so. In that case you'd also want to say way you think that you're a suitable candidate for the specific positions you think I might have open. For example:
... some participants on the comp.unix.security newsgroup suggested that you might have an opening for a new webmaster. I've been working in HTML for three years, and I'm experienced with the installation and configuration of a number of popular CGI packages (including several from Matt's script archive).
I'm particularly interested in working for your consulting firm because I want to learn more about Unix and Internet security and I've heard that you're widely respected in this field. ...
(note: this is all hypothetical --- Starshine Technical Services does do some security consulting --- but is not "widely" regarded in the field, yet).
Lastly, when we ask for more general help we also give some idea of what we're already doing. We do this for two reasons --- first is allows are respondent to avoid redundant suggestions. More importantly, it shows that we are motivated and that we've done some homework.
The point is that everything you say is relevant to the matter at hand. You cannot do that unless you do some research.
Incidentally, people posing technical questions should take note of this advice. It applies as much for an "application for technical support" as it does for any other.
At this point I get enough mail for the "Answer Guy" that I don't wonder where people heard of me (when they're talking about Linux). However, it would be nice if I knew a bit more about where some of these questions came from. If someone at a users group meeting says: "You should send mail to that guy from the Linux Gazette" --- I'd like to hear about which UG it was.

(?)Question: WILL you assist me in finding the new career job?


(?)okay, two questions, only one right answer... thanks for your time....

resume attached............................

(!)... (apparently in .DOC format) and deleted without a glance.

(?)More on Resume Spam

From Prblnd on 24 Aug 1998

you made me laugh thru your entire response ..

thank you -


(!)Glad I could help!

Copyright © 1998, James T. Dennis
Published in Linux Gazette Issue 32 September 1998

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