cultural question on job applications
Thread poster: Chris Hopley

Chris Hopley  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:10
German to English
+ ...
Aug 25, 2003

My basic question may seem a bit trivial, but it does raise some cultural issues and, by extension, translation issues.

Q1: Why do Dutch employers return job application letters when the candidate is unsuitable?

Q1a: Is this practice common in other countries?

The reason I ask is that I'm currently translating some standard letters, one of which is a rejection letter for 'open sollicitaties'. In my country of origin, it is pretty normal for employers not to respond to job applications (speculative or otherwise) if they are not interested. To get your application letter and CV back could be taken as a bit of an affront or at least as slightly bureaucratic.

Anyway, in my English version of the letter, I'm looking to soften the cultural blow by adding a reason. Only I couldn't really come up with anything apart from 'standard practice'. Any ideas anyone?

Chris

[Edited at 2003-08-25 14:40]


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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 10:10
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
politeness Aug 25, 2003

may be a very good reason, Chris.

In my early days I received a lot of those rejection letters.
Studying Slavic languages wasn't really the best option in the early 80s and nobody ever asked for someone with my credentials back then.
'Open sollicitaties' were my only option...


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:10
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
discretie Aug 25, 2003

Discretion/tact might be another reason. You're less blackmailable when you receive your CV back.

The real reason must date from typewriter times. It took ages to type a Dutch resume, so the company sent CVs back for recycling.

Bureaucracy certainly was a reason too. It used to be impossible to throw away any correspondence. Filing mail used to be the only alternative for returning it.

Regards,
Gerard

Do you never reply all those colleagues that offer their services?


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Joeri Van Liefferinge  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 10:10
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Common practice in Belgium Aug 25, 2003

In Belgium it is not unusual at all to receive a rejection letter after you apply for a job. That way, you know that your cv has been seen, but that your application has been rejected. It's a form of politeness, as Evert pointed out, and don't forget: it's also a form of publicity and PR for the company.

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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:10
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Agree Aug 25, 2003

I agree with all the reasons Gerard mentions but offering you the the option of re-using your CV is probably the most important. So in summary, it is a polite and considerate gesture.

Gerard de Noord wrote:

Discretion/tact might be another reason. You're less blackmailable when you receive your CV back.

The real reason must date from typewriter times. It took ages to type a Dutch resume, so the company sent CVs back for recycling.

Bureaucracy certainly was a reason too. It used to be impossible to throw away any correspondence. Filing mail used to be the only alternative for returning it.

Regards,
Gerard

Do you never reply all those colleagues that offer their services?


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Henk Peelen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:10
Member (2002)
German to Dutch
+ ...
zorgvuldigheid en beleefdheid Aug 25, 2003

dat lijken me de hoofdredenen te zijn. Terugsturen is namelijk een bewijs dat ze je brief niet ongeopend in de prullenbak hebben gedeponeerd (ik vermoed dat dat ook wel eens gebeurt), maar dat ze tenminste kennis heebn genomen van je CV.

Ik heb een paar jaar geleden een aantal open sollicitaties verzonden waarbij ik mijn CV op diskette had geplaatst, in een poging iets origineels te doen, en niet zo veel postzegels te hoeven plakken. Het is de vraag of dat een verstandige methode is, want één ding is zeker van een papieren versie: het bevat geen elektronische virussen (en over anthrax hebben we het maar niet (dat is ook geen virus trouwens)), zodat de kans groot is dat de aspirant opdrachtgever weinig zin heeft het schijfje in de lezer te plaatsen. Zo wordt een floppy dus een flop. Waar het echter om gaat, is dat ik ze met name van Duitse opdrachtgevers weer kreeg teruggestuurd. En dat kan toch niet zijn om verdenkingen weg te nemen, want in '45 waren er nog geen diskettes. Misschien is het terugsturen van bescheiden op het continent een meer gangbare methode om de afvalberg te verkleinen (oftewel te verplaatsen).


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lien
Netherlands
Local time: 10:10
English to French
+ ...
I think it is about discretion Aug 25, 2003

so your CV is not kept somewhere in the company files with the risk that anybody could read it, even years later. A CV by definition is very personal. It shows too that it was not thrown carelessly in the bin.

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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:10
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Politeness Aug 25, 2003

Chris,

I think that it is a form of politeness and I like it. I like to know that my application was received and looked at even though I was not considered.

And I agree with the others, you may be able to recycle the CV - if it is not creased too much.

I would not try to soften the blow as that is the way it is done in several countries of Europe. So by saying it the way it is, you are culturally correct for the country it is used in (The Netherlands).

Good luck!
Lucinda

[Edited at 2003-08-25 21:44]


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Chris Hopley  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:10
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Aug 29, 2003

Thanks for the input everyone. Politeness seems to be the overriding consideration. Unfortunately, what's considered polite in one culture is not always polite in another. But that's where Lucinda's point comes into play. If you're trying to find a job in another country, you do need to be extremely aware of the conventions in that country and adapt accordingly, otherwise you're not going to get very far.

In the end, I restructured the letter to 'soften the blow'. The original second sentence was:

Aangezien er op dit moment geen passende vacatures zijn, stuur ik uw brief en cv hierbij retour.

But moving the second part of the sentence to the end as a sort of parentetic tag seemed to work wonders:

Your application letter and CV are being returned to you as a privacy measure.

Thanks again,
Chris

[Edited at 2003-08-29 07:55]


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Bianca Adriaensen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:10
English to Dutch
+ ...
A former applicant's comment Sep 1, 2003

Chris Hopley wrote:

Thanks for the input everyone.


One comment more could do no harm, I guess...
My experience with job applications, never mind whether those were targeted or not (and at one time I sent 300 within 4 weeks): I always felt it as a personal insult not to receive word that I was rejected / not selected... So looking at it from the applicant's point of view: it's a nice way of telling him/her the job went to someone else.
What I've noticed during the period that I was unemployed: the applicant could always ask for his/her data to be kept "on a shelf" for a shorter or longer period. Benefits: if the one who "won the battle" didn't like the job, the company just had to pick up the telephone to make this one call to you...
I even know companies who use this system to treat their applicants in the negative way (been unlucky to work for quite a few of them): after the legal terms for getting to know the job has elapsed, the old applicant is sent off and the next one, whose data were kept on that same shelf, could start within 24 hours...

Hope this gives you some idea of how "the other side" feels when nothing is ever heard again...

Bianca.


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