You've seen the ads posted on places like tvjobs.com. There's a brief job description that reads something like this:
Wanted: One man band reporter who can hit the ground running and endure daily floggings from management. Long hours, low pay, no overtime. Send tape and resume to Human Resources...
So you send your tape off to Human Resources thinking that's the person who will make the decision. Some of you even call and follow up with the HR person.
Here's what the Human Resources department (many times known as "Inhuman Resources") actually does.
Tapes come in. Some by-the-book android who hasn't smiled since 1962 (think Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller) opens the mail and logs the names of the people who apply. This bit of paperwork then gets filed in the warehouse seen in the Indiana Jones movies. Then the drone takes the tapes to the ND.
I've never known of a Human Resources person to screen tapes.
So, a few points:
-Even though the ad directs you to send a tape to HR, you don't address your cover letter to HR, because it will end up in the ND's hands anyway. Take the time to call and get the name of the ND. And please, make sure you spell the name right. Getting the gender correct is always nice, as I can't tell you how many times I've gotten letters addressed to "Ms."
-Don't bother following up with HR. They have no idea how the hiring process is going.
-Just because you got an official application back in the mail, that doesn't mean they're interested. Many companies require HR to send an application to everyone that applies. I've talked to lots of people who get all excited when an application shows up in the mail, and most times it's not a big deal. But you should always fill it out and mail it back, just in case it's from one of those stations that only sends applications to those on the short list.