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February 13, 2012
Hacked Lessons: How to Get a Human Response
“Mail delivery subsystem /undelivered mail return to sender.”
“Mail delivery subsystem/returned mail see transcript for details.”
“Mailer daemon/failure notice.”
Do these messages look familiar? Well, if your email contacts were ever hacked, you saw hundreds of shocking similar ones upon opening your inbox. But even more outrageous may have been the reality smackers sandwiched in between from all the companies where you once applied for employment.
Recently I was a hacked victim, which proved many bizarre and blatant facts. For starters, the most prominent person in the United States, President Barack Obama, not only had my email address but was courteous enough to respond to spam, and ditto for my State Senator, a short-lived “wow” that ended the second I realized both were impersonal form letters.
I also learned exactly where my questionable social popularity has been hanging when it took me days to delete the oodles of “undeliverable returns.”
Yet surprisingly some contacts escaped the “return to sender” route because they were answered with various forms of unexpected replies. They came from the prominent, the annoying, friended, and unfriended. These emails were filled with sordid details from who was out of the office, in the office, or making love in the lunchroom. But the “aha” moment came from the tons of form-letter responses from all the many places I had applied over all the years I held this unique email address. It only further spelled out the cold truth that no one ever cares to see:
A.  Job applications
B.  Brilliantly composed cover letters
C.  State-of-the-techie-art resumes
Which made me totally realize how an applicant’s efforts (moi included) most often go unnoticed. Leaving the biggest mystery: HOW IN THE HECK DO YOU GET A PERSONAL RESPONSE?
While HR statistics state that applying in person results in a 64% increase in job hires versus online applications, applying in person is often NOT an option in today’s job market protocol.
So in other words, how DO you get noticed (without resorting to dishonorable methods that your mother would frown upon) to prompt a personal reply as opposed to an insulting automated one? 
Newsflash: the personal touch is missing! This is possibly the reason why Siri, the voice-activated operator built into Apple’s iPhone 4S, is such a hit. It's beautifully depicted in a recent episode (“The Beta Test Initiation”) of The Big Bang Theory; Raj falls in love with his perfect mate, Siri, and the reason for the soon-to-be released book Siri & Me by David Milgrim.
But the real world of HR does not even have a Siri, and this is another reason it needs to become more human or “humane.” Or just try a little old-fashioned writing etiquette for meaningful replies (short form acceptable) to reject, accept, and/or communicate.
There ARE ways to evoke a human response. Try addressing the letter of application directly to a person from XYZ Company via email or, better yet, by snail mail, and you just may get that “répondez, s'il vous plait” you have been dreaming of, with a personal name that also addresses the details of your very application in body copy, complete with the signature of a real person and a title at end! Don’t faint; it happens.
Stay on top of that contact, remaining one smidge short of pesty. Lo and behold, you MAY nail an interview that leads to a real job.
But the reality is nobody likes to be spam invaded and form letters (as in, rejections) are often just another form of spam — one an applicant should also be able to return to sender. 

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Phyllis Briskman is a verse contributor and does PR/marketing. She sharpened her first pencil as retail fashion copywriter, writing to count before Twitter tweeted its first hello. Later, she flew the cubicle to do freelance creative becoming a writer of all trades, from beauty to fitness for catalogs, magazines, and websites. Born to brainstorm, she's named retail businesses and website domains. She loves quick wit, survives on laughter, is a little hokey, but aims to please because that’s what life’s all about.

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