January 13, 2012

HR: Five out-of-date job-search tactics

"Is it still correct to use ’Dear Sir or Madam’ in a cover letter?†a reader asked in an e-mail.

"That isn’t such a great idea,†I wrote back. "No one uses ’Dear Sir or Madam’ anymore, unless they’re actually writing to a madam, such as Heidi Fleiss.†I’m not sure my e-mail correspondent caught the joke.

It’s not that using out-of-date job-search approaches brands you as older. Rather, it’s that using no-longer-in-fashion job search techniques marks you as out of touch.

Employers pay us, in part, to be aware of trends and phenomena that affect the workplace. Working people (and job-seekers) should follow the news, keep a bead on our changing world, and stay abreast of changes in business, technology, politics, and cultural shifts. That isn’t an unreasonable expectation. If a job-seeker isn’t curious and perceptive enough to notice that the last time he saw "Dear Sir or Madam†on a letter was around the time Chevy Chase impersonated Gerald Ford falling down the stairs, how will he notice what’s changing in his field?

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