With a slow economic recovery, Seattle's job market is full of smart, talented, skilled professionals still looking for work, right? Sonny Shrivastava figured as...

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With a slow economic recovery, Seattle’s job market is full of smart, talented, skilled professionals still looking for work, right?

Sonny Shrivastava figured as much when he began interviewing candidates for his startup, an advertising agency called Studio Seattle.

But months into the hiring process, the 35-year-old entrepreneur found that Seattle’s vast wealth of talent was at times, well, half-vast.

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“I weeded through close to 200 résumés and found myself utterly amazed at the inability for most of these people to give a good first impression,” says Shrivastava.

He’s been hiring for three positions at above-average salaries, but still he gets résumés riddled with typos, cover letters without résumés or applicants with none of the required experience.

One candidate falsified her employment history, another never could furnish her references.

To help job candidates who may not know better, or perhaps to ease the process for other overworked and understaffed entrepreneurs, Shrivastava offers job applicants some advice on how to avoid giving a wrong impression.

Don’t spam.
Résumés and cover letters sent en masse, which don’t even mention the position the candidate is applying for, are assured to end up in the trash bin.

“Do not respond to jobs using bulk e-mail software,” Shrivastava says. “It’s totally disrespectful and annoying.”

Read the ad.
To weed out the lazy or clueless, Shrivastava asked applicants to include a specific phrase in the e-mail subject line such as “Donuts are great.”

Fewer than half the respondents followed the direction.

“If you can’t follow such a simple request, how can I ever expect you to pay attention?”

Unqualified? Don’t apply.
Shrivastava got lots of résumés from people who didn’t have a single job skill listed in the ad, but “expounded profusely about what a great fit they would be.”

The more specific the job description, the less likely you are to convince an employer your unrelated skills are transferable. Better to move on.

Always attach a résumé.
About one in 10 applicants sent Shrivastava lovely cover letters, and that was it.

“This one never ceases to amaze me.”

Check for errors.
Then check again.

“I read one résumé where a candidate misspelled the name of his previous employer,” Shrivastava said.

“If you can’t take the five to 10 minutes to properly proof-read your résumé, you’d be better off sending it to an employer as a dartboard.”

Follow through.
Those who make it past the initial screening can lose their chance if they fail to promptly return phone calls.

Shrivastava withdrew one offer for a sales position when the candidate didn’t call him back the week before his start date.

Another promising candidate with a degree in marketing also failed to return phone calls after the interview, even to say she’d changed her mind about the job.

“Maybe,” Shrivastava wonders, “she got picked up by a UFO.”

Shirleen Holt: 206-464-8316 or sholt@seattletimes.com