Where were you, say, 10 years ago?
My noble yet jobless minion (he's had better days of minioning, so I've had his position re-minioned) is wondering what the weight of delivery method is for resumes, the choices being hand-delivery, regular (snail) mail, online, or email. I had originally planned to post a comment on his page, but as my thoughts grew lengthy (as you see), I needed a larger format.
First, I'll point out to the few that don't know, I work in an IT department. Although I still do programming (to serve my needs), I don't do the grunt work of IT (infrastructure and desktop implementation and troubleshooting) as much as make sure OUR vendors (all telecom, for instance) are doing their part, things get done on time, track and create project schedules, resourcing, procurement, all expenditures and tracking (getting tired yet?), etc., etc. ad nauseum. And I've had to do the first phase of resume-sifting.
Having been on the other side of the unemployment fence two years ago, I don't envy anyone in that position, especially if you are in a transitory phase. From my own experience, I was able to get two temporary jobs (one was supposed to be long term, but it didn't work out (thankfully)) that were entirely due to online filing, and the third and current from networking (i.e., I knew someone and was given a shot). Obviously, the latter is the most desirable, but in lieu of that happening, here's how I see the other four.
As you know unemployment is extremely high these days, so a lot of candidates will vie for every position. For instance, we got about 300 resumes for the latest IT position we are trying to fill. While this is certainly a boon for the employer to have so many persons to choose from, one must also remember that a high employment rate means people will be applying for most any related job, which in turn means MOST (my experience) of the candidates will be under or even over-qualified. This coupled with the sheer number of resumes to review (we all have other work to do, of course) makes the 'Sifting Process' (I will collect royalties hencefore) rather cutthroat.
First, a prologue about cover letters. While a cover letter may be important for other fields, such as marketing where creativity and writing skills are more essential, it is quite unnecessary in IT, except to say that you are indeed applying for the position we advertised. Some people apply to the wrong email address (e.g. Job151@company.com vs. Job152@company.com) and end up in our pile, when they really should have gone to accounting. However, despite the fact that WE know where this resume should go, the candidate does not, is incompetent, or is sloppy, and therefore in the trash can according to Rule 1 of the Sifting Process. However, before that happens, we apply Rule 1a (there is always an 'a' after an integer), which is to scrutinize the cover letter for mistakes, and when invariably found, laugh about them with your colleagues. We enjoy this type of time-suckage (I posted the worst cover letter ever, which still is pasted on my wall at work). Lesson here: If you are including a cover letter, make sure you are sending it to the correct address, and you and a friend (being your own editor is difficult) have proofread it many times.
And now to business (AOTC reference -- can't help it!)... snail mail. Being from IT, 99% of our resumes are from online or email application (as instructed), so it just isn't done. In light of that, the impression it gives makes fodder for Rule 2: That (1) you are unable to follow simple directions, (2) you are UNWILLING to follow simple instructions, (3) you may not have access to a computer or, worst, (4) you are so unskilled with computers that this would have been your death-knell. Rules 1 and 1a may also apply here. Although this is more of an IT criteria, not following the rules of the employer from the get-go can't be good.
Online applicaton. The employer has gone to the trouble of setting up and online application system (e.g., the one at monster.com), with specific fields linked to a database from which the employer will be able to conglomerate all candidates into one spreadsheet (presumably) and, at a glance, look at the key areas of your resume and be able to sift with both the least amount of pain and the greatest efficiency. Failing to fit into the system that Big Brother has set up... well, read 1984. You are a troublemaker and iconoclast and this, again, part of Rule 2 (and 2a -- don't deny us our fun!).
Email application. It has become the cornerstone of efficient application as well as opening the gates for those who are able to effortlessly apply to a dozen positions in a day (I've done this) and thus flood your resume queue. The employer will print out ALL resumes and sift through them one-by-one, looking to apply Rules 1(spelling, grammar, inconsistent font, silly or ergonomically painful formatting) and 2 (under or over qualification -- applying to the wrong job), at the slightest indiscretion. There is no Rule 3 (other than we automatically reject any anagrams resultant from Jaquandor's true name, which I will reveal for a small fee), and it is not needed; surprisingly, this process weeds out about 85-90% of applicants (Perhaps not given the "90% Rule" I employ -- that is, 90% of all people are idiots). For those of you who may think this is a trivial way to sort out a potentially excellent candidate, I have many responses, but the most efficient is: If you don't have time to prepare a proper resume, why should I take the time to read it (or, again, take the chance that all your projects are not so slipshod)?
Now to the question of hand-delivery. I can think of nothing more irritating than a candidate begging to deliver their application in person. This contituties time-suckage from my already loaded day-to-day procedures (which do include the occasional blog when I have some spare time -- but that's MY time). However, I will also say that I would definitely note a resume that was dropped off at the office and put (by receptionist) on my desk or in-box, if only for curiosity sake. That to me says that the person obviously made the effort AND was conscious enough to realize we are all busy. That coupled with a duplicate resume sent by our REQUESTED method (and NOTED in the cover letter so as not to invoke Rule 2), will ensure that I give it its due attention.
So, from my little nitch in the world, I think you know what to do. Now go do it (and learn another skill in your spare time, dammit!).
PS: Bonus point to whomever can identify the relevance of the title of this blog (my Malaysian friends have guaranteed delivery!).