This week, my firm received possibly the worst job query I’ve ever seen. That’s saying a lot, given the stacks of résumés and letters sent to our firm each year.
Given the tight job market and need for skilled workers in our field, this applicant sets the bar for how not
to conduct a job search and sell yourself.
Here’s the letter, with some details excised to protect the applicant. All misspellings and missing words are preserved:
I am a student from XXX State University I plan on graduating this spring and was very interested in applying at your firm. My major is public but I have had experience in advertisement, campaign management, and social media. I will of course sent you a portfolio and resume upon my graduation I just find it appropriate to contact you early. I extremely respect your business and I feel I have the ability to add to your already sterling reputation.
Sent from my iPhone
OK, now let’s look at the letter a little closer. It prompts real-world tips on what job applicants should
It’s clear from the first line that the applicant didn’t target our firm. It’s a form letter that was likely sent hundreds of times. He made no attempt to personalize the letter.
Form letters never work. Targeted pitches do.
In the second line, the applicant says his major is “public.” Public what? I assume it’s public relations, but it could be public policy or public finance. And he has experience in “advertisement.” Did he mean to say advertising?
Proofread your cover letter; then have a friend review it. It’s exceedingly easy for a potential employer to delete a cover letter if there’s a mistake.
Near the middle of line 3, the applicant says he has experience in social media. At this point, who doesn
’t have experience with social media?
Offer an assessment of your skills, but make them stand out. Instead of saying you have social media experience, say what makes you different from the 500 million other people on Facebook who can also say they have social media experience.
In the fourth line, I’m just going to assume that there is supposed to be another period somewhere here, along with the start of a new sentence. This applicant again shows that he blindly sent out the letter, as we make it clear that we do not hire, nor have we ever hired, anyone right out of school. This letter affirms the wisdom of that policy.
Research a company before applying; this will save everyone time. There’s a reason why some companies hire candidates with five or 10 years of experience.
The final sentence: If this applicant did respect our business, he would have spent five minutes proofing his letter, finding out who we are and what we’re looking for. A mistake-laden letter just shows a lack of respect.
If you are going to offer hyperbole about a company, back it up. You have a sterling reputation because …
The ultimate insult of the letter is that it was sent from his iPhone. That’s got to be a first. Maybe he thought that it was cool to send the letter from his iPhone because it shows his tech savvy. It’s not a good move; it shows laziness. I bet he sent it from his classroom, having found our address minutes earlier.
Here’s a new one: Don’t send a cover letter from your phone. Guess we had to state the obvious.
Like most college seniors, this person clearly is waiting for doors to open for him. I must say it’s slightly commendable and that there’s something appealing about his brash, sloppy style. But that feeling is fleeting.
Because it’s unlikely this applicant reads PR Daily
, let this letter be a lesson for any other upcoming graduates in how not
to apply for a job. By the way, this column was not
sent from my iPhone.
Gil Rudawsky is a former reporter and editor. He heads up the crisis communication and issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. Read his blog or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.