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Sending CVs to agencies - do you always find out the contact person first?
Thread poster: Sonja Allen

Sonja Allen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:10
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
Aug 4, 2005

Books on "how to apply for a job" always state as an all important fact, that you should not address your covering letter "Dear Sir/Madam" but to a person in the company and therefore you should find out the person's name in advance (for example by phoning the company). When you look at agency websites, however, they always just give you a general email address such as "jobs@xytranslation.co.uk", where you can send your CV to. If they really wanted you to contact a certain person or persons, why don't they put the name on the website? Do they really want people to phone them up beforehand and ask for a name and thus interrupt them from the work they are currently doing? What is your experience with applications to agencies? Has it done you any harm to address them only with "dear Sir/Madam"?

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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:10
French to German
+ ...
This is probably not very important Aug 4, 2005

So far I found no evidence that an application will be less read if you send it to the correct email address but address it to the "wrong" person.

So probably having the correct name after the "Dear" is not very important; there's no need for a phone call just for finding that out.

I personally simply hunt around the website for names and use the name that fits the bill best. This isn't as cumbersome as it may sound. I need to browse the site anyway to get a picture of the agency and to decide whether I want to do business for them. (Sometimes, for example, it is evident that they don't do my combinations or specialities, so there is no point in applying.)

German websites are required to have a legal notice that names a person (or entity) responsible, so you almost always get at least 1 name from looking at the website.

However, there are other advantages of phoning up agencies beforehand:

At least one employee will get to know you personally, albeit briefly. You might leave a favourable first impression.

You will get preliminary feedback, so you know where you stand (if OTOH you just send your email, they probably won't answer you back right away, and then you don't know for months whether they were interested or whether they threw the application away).

You occasionally get surprising insight into the firm, sometimes giving you second thoughts on whether you want to offer your services there after all.

I usually phone when the website does not adress freelancers; I _don't_ phone when the website specifically tells me not to.

Note: this is all from a German perspective. Your mileage in Great Britain or the USA might vary.

P.

PS. Oh yes, and just a personal opinion aside: don't get into the mindset of "applying for a job". You're a freelancer. You are advertising services, just like your plumber and your dentist does.

[Edited at 2005-08-05 02:56]

[Edited at 2005-08-05 02:58]


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Giles Bickford  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:10
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
And sometimes work, too Aug 5, 2005

[quote]Peter Bouillon wrote:

You occasionally get surprising insight into the firm, sometimes giving you second thoughts on whether you want to offer your services there after all."

On more than one occasion I have been doing a phone/mail-shot campaign or just renewing contacts with agencies and have picked up work from new clients "Oh, glad you called - I just happen to have a little job for you" On one occasion that little job led to a $12,000 job

I am a firm believer in personal contact.

Incidentally, on the other hand, in 16 years working fulltime at this, and after probably well over a billion words, I have only ever physically met 2 clients!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:10
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Use a name if you're sure, but always be well-mannered Aug 5, 2005

Sonja Allen wrote:
When you look at agency websites, however, they always just give you a general email address such as "jobs@xytranslation.co.uk", where you can send your CV to. If they really wanted you to contact a certain person or persons, why don't they put the name on the website?


Who knows what their reasons might be? Perhaps their entire agency is a one man band and he wants to hide behind multiple aliases. Or perhaps there's more than one person in charge of recruitment (or they're on rotation). Or perhaps they're hoping that you'd do some digging yourself. Or perhaps they don't care as long as your letter doesn't contain all sorts of other errors.

I suspect the "use a person's name" advice is meant for cold calling. The recruitment officer expects to receive unsolicited mail and won't bat an eye if you adress him in the generic. The managing director, on the other hand, won't read past your first line if you don't use his name specifically. But you won't send your CV to the managing director, now would you?

Instead, focus on things like ensuring that your letter is clear, to the point, error free, and that it has the date, your contact details and any other salient information unambiguously and in a position where a reader might expect to find it.

As for sending your CV to agencies via their web sites, well, if there is a recruitment e-mail address, then use it and don't use any other e-mail address. If there is no specific recruitment e-mail address given, then using a real name may get you a better foot in the door.


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 06:10
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
But please consider also other factors Aug 5, 2005

I am owner of a small Agency and we daily receive about 20 uncalled for CVs. We don't delete them, but just stuff them in a special folder unopened. (The folder size at the moment is about 50 Mb). It's not that we never use these CVs- if a job to specific language pair appears we cannot do with our existing resources, we use InfoRapid Search and Replace to seek a specific CVs in that folder.

But we are a small Agency, mainly dealing with translations into Baltic languages. I'd have to employ a special person to sort all these CVs and answer each and every sender and I think situation is much the same at many other Agencies, so I suggest not expect any answer to your uncalled for CV and also to consider whether it is worth while to send your, say, Portuguese- Tagalog CV to an Agency in Finland...


Uldis

Sonja Allen wrote:
When you look at agency websites, however, they always just give you a general email address such as "jobs@xytranslation.co.uk", where you can send your CV to. If they really wanted you to contact a certain person or persons, why don't they put the name on the website?


[Edited at 2005-08-05 13:07]


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