Wednesday, September 24, 2008

cover letter train wrecks

True, a good cover letter won't get you a job, but a bad one can kill any chance you have at it. No better way to show a potential boss you don't care than by sending a letter (email or other) containing typos, grammatical errors, inappropriate language and other linguistic lapses of judgement like these found in actual cover letters from the circular file of recruiter Lawrence Shifflett who has preserved all syntax and errors for factual correctness (and maximum hilarity):

"I want to take this time to point out the weakness of my resume."
— One hundred percent honest. One hundred percent not getting the job.

"Brian Tracy relates a story of a friend that is a Sales Manager in Southern California for a large corporation."
— The lamest name-drop of all time.

"I am a dilettante and a factotum whose knowledge of English and its usage, earmark me as an ideal candidate."
— Sorry, our quota for factotums is already filled.

"I am one of 3 survivors out of 15 hired."
— no comment

"But no matter how we communicate to each other, whether by newspaper or Web site, the reliance on the use of words will always remain."
— Clearly, words aren’t your most effective comunication tool.

"Hi my name is ____ i attached my resume please look it over and give me a call thank you"
— You can't be bothered to capitalize or write a complete cover letter, but I'm to presume you'll be busting your chops working for me?
For more don'ts to avoid when writing that cover letter, click here.


Anonymous said...

Here is an actual email I received from an interviewee.

Waking up this morning as eger as i am to meet you and looking at the company.... i woke under the weather my parents suggested that no one in your position would want a kid inside sneezzing and coughing runny noise you know the drill. im so sorry i feel horrible, and i feel horrible about not being able to make this meeting. please dont hold it against my as a bad person who blew you off, i didnt. maybe another time and thank you so much for taking the time to meet me with me anyway, i know your a busy man so thanks for taking the time. sorry again.

Rob Buccino said...

At a seminar on generational issues (Gen X, Gen Y, millennials) I attended a few weeks ago, a speaker pointed out that thanks to the affluent years we seem now to be leaving behind, many Gen Ys graduated from college having never worked a day at any job in their lives. As your post and Bob's comment show, some seem to bring blinding naivete along with a lack of skills in grammar, spelling, rhetorical argument when the enter the workforce. Yet there are relatively few of them, so they've been in demand and gotten jobs in spite of a lack of preparation. Will the current economic crisis be their wake-up call? Who's going to train them? And will accept counsel from us "old folks", or simply believe we're out of touch?

Rob BuccinoNeoCortex Consulting Group

Rob Buccino said...

Make that 'grammar, spelling, and rhetorical argument" in my previous comment. Shame on me for chastising others for their communication flaws and failing to proofread for my own!

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

@bob hoffman- Thanks for this. TOO unbelievable. Clearly the kid's future doesn't lie in advertising. Or in any profession requiring English and social skills.

@rob buccino-Your question is an excellent one. (Remind me to insist my kids get summer jobs.) As for your typos, not egregious and surely acceptable in hurriedly written blogosphere entries-no one expects cover letter perfection here!

Catherine said...

What a laugh!

You are so right with your opening quote: "True, a good cover letter won't get you a job, but a bad one can kill any chance you have at it."

We receive bad cover letters most days.

As well as your tips, here's some good cover letter samples.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Great tips, Catherine. But I smile to think that at least one of your readers has sent out a letter with suggested salutation: Dear (Mr/Ms/Miss Name given in advert)

Joker said...

@ Bob: Dfntly ay keyper iff i eaver sow one. :D

@ Rob: Is the talent pool really that shallow? I know some extremely well prepared people that can't get a job and a truckload of bottom feeders that are employed and most times it seems as if companies choose whoever kisses the best ass rather than the best employee. Or maybe I'm just totally or better yet, maybe it's a bit of both. By the way, I think you also missed a y on they in the end of your second sentence.

@ Catherine: Now I'm curious in regards to what brainfarts you've been unlucky enough to read through.

@ Broad: You're totally right regarding grammar and blogs. Remember Rob stream of thought just needs to make sense, not be perfect, and your point is extremely valid to the point of me wanting to expand on it. (Was this a comment for Adbroad or Rob, damnit, need coffee).

By the way, anyone else weirded out at this sequence of messages:

Bob - Rob - Broad

just saying :)

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Joker--thanks for your as always insightful comments--on commenters! Glad it inspired a post of your own. (I'm dropping by after this) Yeah. Rob Bob Broad. Anyone who can say that 10x fast gets the job. Or at least an interview ;)

Joker said...

Where's my interview? lol. And always a pleasure to be able to comment, because that means I've just read a great post or a great comment. Funny how I also managed to fuck up with my comment by totally omitting a word while still managing to point out how Rob missed a simple "y". Oh well. :)

cheers regardless