How to Follow Up on a Job Without Being Annoying

When and how to follow-up is one of the most difficult aspects of the job search.   Employers, unfortunately, usually don’t outline the exact process nor follow a timeline (even a promised timeline) for scheduling interviews or making hiring decisions.   Also, when they say they will “let you know” – more often than not they don’t.   So it is your responsibility, as a job seeker, to take the initiative to follow-up after submitting an application or interviewing.  The following article gives some useful tips on the follow-up question.  (Marlene)

How to Follow Up on a Job Without Being Annoying



Grammar Police

Here’s a poignant and thoughtful article about why one employer won’t hire people who cannot properly use a comma. Take notes and enjoy!

I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.

by Kyle Wiens – Harvard Business Review

If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.

Some might call my approach to grammar extreme, but I prefer Lynne Truss’s more cuddly phraseology: I am a grammar “stickler.” And, like Truss — author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves — I have a “zero tolerance approach” to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.

Now, Truss and I disagree on what it means to have “zero tolerance.” She thinks that people who mix up their itses “deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave,” while I just think they deserve to be passed over for a job — even if they are otherwise qualified for the position.

Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can’t distinguish between “to” and “too,” their applications go into the bin.

Of course, we write for a living. is the world’s largest online repair manual, and Dozuki helps companies write their own technical documentation, like paperless work instructions and step-by-step user manuals. So, it makes sense that we’ve made a preemptive strike against groan-worthy grammar errors.

But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.

Good grammar makes good business sense — and not just when it comes to hiring writers. Writing isn’t in the official job description of most people in our office. Still, we give our grammar test to everybody, including our salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers.

On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?

Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.

Grammar signifies more than just a person’s ability to remember high school English. I’ve found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts.

In the same vein, programmers who pay attention to how they construct written language also tend to pay a lot more attention to how they code. You see, at its core, code is prose. Great programmers are more than just code monkeys; according to Stanford programming legend Donald Knuth they are “essayists who work with traditional aesthetic and literary forms.” The point: programming should be easily understood by real human beings — not just computers.

And just like good writing and good grammar, when it comes to programming, the devil’s in the details. In fact, when it comes to my whole business, details are everything.

I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don’t think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren’t important. And I guarantee that even if other companies aren’t issuing grammar tests, they pay attention to sloppy mistakes on résumés. After all, sloppy is as sloppy does.

That’s why I grammar test people who walk in the door looking for a job. Grammar is my litmus test. All applicants say they’re detail-oriented; I just make my employees prove it.

[[Editors’ note: If you’re interested in improving your writing skills, please consider our Guide to Better Business Writing book]]

SPEA Collaboration: Good360


Earlier this week I met with SPEA alum, Colleen Clark, Manager, Fundraising and Special Events for Good360.

– Good360’s  mission is to “fulfill the needs of nonprofits with corporate product donations”.   They “are driven by a vision that demands constant innovation, leveraging the latest technological and social networking developments to create new and engaging online solutions that strengthen nonprofits and expand corporate citizenship.   By:

  • Providing product resources that help nonprofits meet their mission
  • Helping companies give back to the communities where they live and work
  • Helping individuals increase the impact of cash contributions that help ship donated products to qualified charities
  • Creating corporate, nonprofit and environmental “win-win” outcomes for unsold products and excess inventory
  • Keeping products from going to landfills and instead, getting a second life with those who need

Colleen and I met to discuss how the SPEA Career Development Office can continue to help connect our students with employment opportunities at Good360.  Good360 and SPEA’s  impressive partnership has been developing over time and has included: a capstone project, faculty research, student internships, and alumni hires.

Ms. Clark leads Good360’s internship recruitment process and promised to target SPEA as they advertise their opportunities.  In addition, Colleen volunteered to host virtual office hours, (20-minute appointments/conversations with SPEA students interested in learning more about: Good360, Colleen’s career path, DC’s nonprofit environment, etc.).  We imagine that their summer (Development, Communications/PR, Finance) internships will garner the most attention from our students but she also wanted to let students know that they had fall and spring internships as well.

Colleen encouraged our office to help promote the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – DC Chapter, an organization where she volunteers.  In fact, she is coordinating a speed networking event next week and would love to see SPEA student & alumni in attendance – more info.

**Keep reading our eNewsletters and checking in with to learn more about Good360 information session, jobs, internships and virtual office hours.

SPEA Collaboration: Global Gifts

Earlier this week I met with Dave Debikey, Store Manager of Global Gifts.

–        “Global Gifts is a nonprofit Fair Trade Store which provides hope and opportunity to developing world producers by paying fair wages and supporting business development for producer cooperatives.”

Dave and I met at his store, located on the Square in Downtown Bloomington.  Dave has had success with IU student volunteers and interns in the past, and as we discussed, he felt that his store’s anticipated internship positions (Category Management and Database Analysis; Community Outreach and Marketing; Volunteer Management and Training) could best be met by collaborating with SPEA.  Dave is looking forward to partnering with our office and hosting an information session(s), meet-n-greet(s), and/or office hours to help promote his positions to the student body.

I see great potential for this collaboration.  SPEA students will be able to put their education into practice by helping a local nonprofit further its fair trade mission through data analysis, community outreach, and program administration – all strengths of SPEA and its top ranked nonprofit management program.

Want to learn more about Global Gifts?

–        I encourage you to visit their store in Bloomington (or in Indianapolis) or stop by and speak with them at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market, or of course visit their website.

**Keep reading our eNewsletters and checking in with to learn more about Global Gifts’ internships and on-campus events.

Get Off The Elevator

If you’re job searching, you’ve probably been advised to prepare an “elevator speech”.  This “speech” is a short spiel – a minute or less – in which you focus on three or four key points to present yourself and highlight your talents.  It’s typically used as an introduction when networking at a career event.   Also, it can be in response to questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “What do you do?”

Some people can create good elevator speeches and deliver them effortlessly – without sounding like a cheesy salesman or slick politician.  Does that prove they’re suitable job candidates or just good at elevator speeches?

Of course it’s important to know your strengths and skills well enough to communicate them clearly.  The problem is that most speeches sound canned, over-rehearsed, and come across as anything but effortless.

A memorized elevator speech usually sounds robotic.  It inhibits the ability to deviate from the “script” and think quickly.  As a result, it affects your attitude, body language, and your natural personality doesn’t shine through.

First impressions are so important.  If you seem insincere or bungle a memorized pitch, a bad elevator speech can ruin your chance to connect with an interviewer or professional contact.

Instead, when you meet someone new, look him in the eye, offer a firm handshake, smile, and introduce yourself with confidence.  Let the conversation develop naturally.  Ask questions and be prepared to talk clearly about yourself and your skills, experience, and interests.  Request a business card or contact information in order to follow-up.

So, scrap the elevator speech.  Focus on and engage with the person you’re talking to by communicating openly and sincerely.  Be genuine, be yourself – that’s the way to make a lasting impression – and next time take the stairs!