Appointments and applications


Industrias Montresor is a company based in Zaragoza, in northern Spain. It manufactures heavy machinery for the chemical industry. Every department in Montresor uses computers, and as the organisation grows, the computer systems grow with it. Montresor now decides that it needs a Divisional Software Engineering Manager. This lesson is about finding the right person for this job.


Joe Andrews is Staff Controller at Industrias Montresor, Zaragoza, Spain. He is American.
Pilar Soto is Data Manager at Industrias Montresor. She is Spanish.
Carlos Vila is Senior Software Development Engineer at Topdown Software, Consett, County Durham, England. He is Spanish.
Helen Tomlinson is Manager of the Industrial Clients Department at Topdown Software. She is Carlos Vila's manager. She is British.


Vocabulary Job descriptions; job advertisements.
Skills Making a telephone call; writing a business letter; applying for a job; asking for and giving a reference.
Structures Dates; in/from/for.
Documents A job description; a job advertisement; a comparison chart; a c.v.; a letter of application; a reference request; a reference.

Describing the job - drafting the advertisement

3.1 Speaking practice: returning a call

Joe Andrews is Staff Controller at Industrias Montresor in Spain. Pilar Soto calls him on the telephone. Listen to what they say. When you hear it the second time, there will be pauses. You speak the part of Pilar Soto.

JOE Extension 7385: Joe Andrews speaking.
PILAR Good morning, Joe. It's Pilar Soto. I'm returning your call see the meaning.
JOE Oh, hello, Pilar. That's right, there was something I wanted to ask you about. That new software engineering post.
PILAR Yes, indeed. We need to appoint someone pretty soon.
JOE Right. Do you want to come and have a chat about see the meaning the job description?
PILAR Well, I've jotted down see the meaning a few ideas. I'll tidy them up and get them typed and you can have a look at them.

3.2 Document study

Pilar Soto is Data Manager at Industrias Montresor. This is what her notes looked like when they had been typed. Notice how careful she is to say exactly what the new employee will have to do.

Draft job description:
Divisional Software Engineering Manager (DSEM)

The DSEM is responsible to the Data Manager for:

  1. ensuring that all software used by the Corporation is maintained in good operational condition see the meaning at all times.
  2. maintaining the strictest security with regard to computer programs.
  3. liaising with see the meaning manufacturers and consultants in keeping software up to date and in overcoming problems or errors in programs.
  4. writing new programs, applications see the meaning, etc. as required.

3.3 Listen and read

Joe Andrews and Pilar Soto meet to discuss the qualifications and experience they are looking for in the new software manager. Listen to what they say. Make notes of what they want, under the headings 'essential' and 'desirable'. You will need these notes for 3.7.

JOE Come in, Pilar - take a seat, won't you? see the meaning Thanks for your draft see the meaning of the job description - it looks OK to me - what we need to do now is to draft the advertisement.
PILAR Yes. That's more your line see the meaning, of course. But I can tell you something about the qualifications we'll be looking for.
JOE Previous experience?
PILAR Well, to start with, a degree in computing - preferably a postgraduate qualification see the meaning - plus at least three years' experience.
JOE Mhm. Need that be in the chemical industry?
PILAR We can't afford to be that specific. We just need a good software engineer.
JOE Right. How old should he be?
PILAR Joe, it needn't be a 'he'.
JOE Sorry! What's the top age limit?
PILAR Just say 'the successful applicant is likely to be under thirty-five'.
JOE And they must be fluent in English, I suppose.
PILAR Oh yes, that's essential, because whoever gets the job, their first assignment is going to be a training course in Japan. see the meaning

3.4 Document study

This is the advertisement that appeared in several daily newspapers and specialist journals. Which of the items discussed by Joe Andrews and Pilar Soto (in 3.3) appear in the advertisement?


...rapid career development for a high-flier...

INDUSTRIAS MONTRESOR is an expanding multinational corporation, active in chemical engineering and marketing its products and services to the petro-chemical industry. Our West European Division, located in Zaragoza, Spain, is urgently seeking an ambitious Software Engineer to build and take charge of an enthusiastic team.

The successful applicant is likely to be under 35 and to have an outstanding track record see the meaning in the field of software engineering (not necessarily relating to the chemical industry). He or she see the meaning currently holds a post of responsibility at middle management level and is fluent in Spanish and English. A postgraduate qualification will be an advantage.

Salary negotiable. see the meaning Expense allowance, company car, generous fringe benefits.
Apply with c.v. and names of two referees to:
Dept. F, Industrias Montresor SA, Apdo 234, Zaragoza, Spain, before 17 January 1992.

3.5 Reading for key words

Find the words or phrases in 3.1-3.4 that tell you the following:

1 Joe and Pilar have already discussed the software engineering post.
2 There is a risk of computer programs being stolen or deliberately damaged.
3 It may be difficult to find someone who is exactly suitable for the job.
4 Industrias Montresor operates in several countries, and is getting bigger.
5 The company needs a software engineer who is also a good leader.
6 Whoever gets this job can expect to be promoted quickly.

3.6 Find the word

Read the text below on recruitment. Fill the gaps with words from the box. If you're not sure of the meaning of any of the words, you will find them in the glossary.

Most companies recruit new staff by advertising in the press. Pages with job (a) are usually headed (b) ''. They contain descriptions or specifications of the sort of people the advertiser is looking for. (c) (degrees, diplomas, certificates) are obviously important, but (d) may count for much more. The aim is to attract a small number of well-qualified applicants, so that it is fairly easy to make a short list of the people you actually want to (e) . If the advertisement is not specific enough, hundreds of people will send in their (f) ; but if it demands too much, they may be discouraged from applying at all.

3.7 Sorting out the applicants

Joe Andrews reads hundreds of applications each year. He has a printed form which he and Pilar use to help them choose who to interview. Write the qualifications and experience they are looking for, first the most important, then the less important. The notes you made for 3.3 will be useful here. Save it somewhere for further comparison in the next lesson.


Putting in your application

3.8 Structure practice: writing and speaking dates

You will see and hear a lot of dates on these pages. Listen to the dates below being spoken and then practise saying them.

1 March 1988 'the first of March nineteen eighty-eight'
17 November 1990 'the seventeenth of November nineteen ninety'
2 June 1995 'the second of June nineteen ninety-five'

You could also say:

'March the first', 'November the seventeenth', 'June the second'

In America, and sometimes in Britain, dates are written like this, with the month first: November 17 1990; June 2 1995. Be careful! Dates are sometimes written in number form only: 3.7.90. In Britain this would mean 'the third of July nineteen ninety'; in America, and on many computers, it would mean 'the seventh of March nineteen ninety'.

3.9 Listen and read

Carlos Vila is a Spanish computer programmer working in Britain. He saw the Industrias Montresor advertisement after the closing date, but he thought he would telephone Joe Andrews anyway. Listen to what they say. Is Carlos too late?

JOE Joe Andrews speaking.
CARLOS Good morning. My name is Carlos Vila. I've just seen an advertisement in the 'International Herald Tribune'. It said you were looking for a Divisional Software Engineering Manager. I'm very interested, but I wonder if it's too late to apply.
JOE Well, the deadline see the meaning was two days ago, but give me some details about yourself. What did you say your name was?
CARLOS Vila - Carlos Vila Monterde.
JOE Could you spell that, please - surname first.
CARLOS Vila, V-I-L-A. Monterde, M-O-N, T-E-R-D-E. First name, Carlos, C-A-R, L-O-S.

3.10 Speaking practice: talking about yourself

Joe and Carlos continue their conversation. Joe's part of the conversation is printed below. Listen to what they say, then listen again and speak the part of Carlos. To help you, the information that Carlos gives is printed on his c.v. in 3.11.


OK, Mr Vila. Now, can we have your date of birth? see the meaning




And what about your education? - secondary education, I mean.




Uh-huh. What qualification did you get when you finished school?




I see. Where did you go then?




Yes, I suppose everyone has to, don't they? What about further education?




And that led to - a degree?




And when you finished that, you started work?




Oh, so it's Doctor Vila, is it? What year did you finish your PhD?




What then?




Did you? But then, I suppose, you started work. What company did you go to first?




What post did you hold?




OK. What other companies have you worked for?




Mm, interesting. I think we'd certainly like to have your c.v., Dr Vila. As time is short see the meaning, why don't you fax it to us today or tomorrow? I'll put your name on our list of applicants.


3.11 Document study: writing your c.v.-1

This is the c.v. that Carlos sent to Joe Andrews. He also sent a handwritten covering letter.
There are many 'right' ways to write a c.v. Carlos has made his short and simple. He knows that all business documents must be easy to read and understand. That is why he has divided it into sections and tabulated it: the main headings are on the left of the page, the sub-headings a little further to the right. We can see at once where each section starts and ends.
You will find more about writing c.v.s in 4.11


(A) Personal information
  name: Carlos VILA Monterde
  home address: Calle Sta Ana 47, Apc. 12a, Madrid, Spain
  present address: Flat 7. 26 Newcastle Road, Consett, County Durham, DU4 3ME, England
  date and place of birth: 13.5.61 in Santander, Spain
  nationality: Spanish
  sex: male
  marital status: single
(B) Education
  secondary education:
  1976-79 Senior High School in Santander
High School Graduation Certificate
  further education:
  1979-80 military service
  1980-85 University of Zaragoza:
BSc in Computer Studies
  1985-87 University of Madrid:
PhD in Systems Engineering
(C) Employment
  1990- Topdown Systems, UK: Client Consultant (promoted to Senior Software Development Engineer, July 1991)
  1989-90 Imprimerie Ledoux, Paris: Control Systems Supervisor
  1988-89 Franco-Italian Bank, Milan: Systems Analyst
  1987-88 I took a year off and, with some friends, sailed round the world in a 12-metre sailing cruiser.

current salary: equivalent to $48,000 plus car and bonuses

(D) Other information
  languages: Spanish (native)
French, English (fluent, spoken/written)
Italian (fairly fluent)
(E) Referees
  Mrs Helen Tomlinson
Manager, Industrial Clients Department
Topdown Systems Ltd
Unit 37, Medomsley Road
Consett, County Durham DU11 5AE,

(names of other referees will be supplied on request)

3.12 Structure practice: prepositions of time

The most common prepositions of time are 'in', 'from' and 'for':

in 1984 — in March 1993
from 1976 — from April to June — from 14 December
for three years

Re-read the dialogues and documents in this lesson, then answer the questions below, using 'in', 'from' or 'for'. Use the information from Carlos's c.v. in your answers. There are many possible answers; the answer key gives one typical answer for each question.

1 How long have you been working for Topdown Systems?
2 When were you in Italy?
3 I see that you did military service. When was that?
4 Have you travelled much?
5 You've lived in Zaragoza before, haven't you?
6 When did you live in Santander?
7 How long were you in Paris?
8 When were you at university?

3.13 Listen and read

Before he wrote the letter to Industrias Montresor, Carlos wanted to speak to his manager at Topdown Systems, Helen Tomlinson. Listen to what they say. What words do they use to show that the conversation is private?

CARLOS Helen, could I have a quick word with you? see the meaning
HELEN Sure! Come into my office. Have a seat.
CARLOS There was something that I wanted to ask you about. I don't want to say anything about this officially yet see the meaning - this is just between you and me — but...
HELEN But you think it's time you moved on and you're applying tor another job.
CARLOS Well, yes. How did you know? Anyway, could I ask you a favour? Can I give your name as a referee? see the meaning
HELEN Of course you may. Are you applying for a particular job, or are you just looking generally?
CARLOS Oh no! It's a chemical machinery corporation which operates in several countries, including Spain. They want a software engineering manager, someone to build up a new team. They’re sending me full particulars. see the meaning I'll photocopy them for you.
HELEN There’s no need. They’ll send me a copy anyway if they ask for a reference. OK, Carlos, thanks for telling me. You'll let me know what happens, won't you?
CARLOS If anything does! Actually, I’ve spoken to them on the phone. They sound quite interested.
HELEN Well, I wish you luck. I promise I won't mention it to anyone else unless you're called for interview.

3.14 Reading for key words

Find the words or phrases in 3.13 that tell you the following:

  1. Carlos doesn't want people to know that he is looking for another job.
  2. Helen has already guessed that he is looking for another job.
  3. She wants to end the conversation.
  4. He thinks that he won’t get the job.
  5. But he also thinks that he might get the job.

3.15 Letter layout

Business letters are usually quite formal. The different parts of a business letter are listed below. Look again at Carlos's letter to Industrias Montresor (click to show). Which items has he not used?

  1. the writer's signature.
  2. the subject of the letter.
  3. the writer's name.
  4. the company letterhead (that is the company's name and address).
  5. the signature block.
  6. the farewell.
  7. the date.
  8. the greeting.
  9. the name and address of the recipient. see the meaning
  10. the writer's job title.
  11. the company logo. see the meaning

3.16 Document study

A day or two later, Helen receives a reference request from the Staff Controller of Industrias Montresor. This is her reply. Each of the parts has a label. For each label (a-k) write the number of one of the parts of a business letter listed in 3.15.

This is the original task. Unfortunately, the page from the original source is missing. Just study the document with prompts see the meaning to it.

    see the meaningTopdown Systems Ltd
Unit 37
Medomsley Road
see the meaningMr J Andrews
Staff Controller
Industrias Montresor SA
Apdo 234
Zaragoza, Spain
Co. Durham
DU11 5AE

29 January 1992


see the meaning Dear Mr Andrews

see the meaning

Applicant for post of Divisional Software Engineering Manager: Dr Carlos VILA Monterde

Thank you for your enquiry dated 24 January. Dr Vila has worked for this company since October 1990, first as a Client Consultant, and since July 1991 as a Senior Software Development Engineer. Although appointed to the Marketing Department, he has been attached to see the meaning the Industrial Clients Department since the date of his promotion.

He is one of four SSDEs in my Department, who report direct to me. There are eleven Software Development Engineers, and we have a support staff see the meaning of four. I have found him a willing and agreeable colleague and a very competent member of my team. He is dependable and hard-working. On three occasions, as Project Leader of important client projects, he has shown effective leadership qualities. He has a natural aptitude see the meaning for understanding and solving problems. He is a good communicator, and although he sometimes appears to lack confidence in English, this has not been a serious obstacle in his work.

Having studied the particulars of the post for which he has applied, I can confidently recommend him.

see the meaningYours sincerely, see the meaning

see the meaning

(Mrs) Helen Tomlinson
Manager, Industrial Clients Department

3.17 Writing practice: a formal letter

After reading Helen's letter carefully, you should be able to work out what Joe Andrews wrote in his letter to her. It was quite short, but it asked for all the information that Helen gave in her letter. Write Joe Andrews's letter. The beginning is shown below.

Mrs Helen Tomlinson
Manager, Industrial Clients Department
Topdown Systems Limited
Unit 37, Medomsley Road
County Durham DU11 5AE

24 January 1992

Dear Mrs Tomlinson

Dr Carlos VILA Monterde, Applicant for post of Divisional Software Engineering Manager

We have received an application from Dr Vila for this post. Details of our company and a copy of the job description are enclosed. Dr Vila has told us that we may apply to you for a reference.