Yes … it’s time for more hiring rant from Leslie. I hope you don’t need to read this, but if you are currently in the job market, please take a look – it might help.
I use a blind email address when I recruit. This email address is used by every other branch of my company for recruiting purposes. So when I am recruiting for … say … salespeople, it would be really helpful if the people responding to my ad would mention the position for which they are applying in their cover letters. However, many do not. Currently, there are 159 emails sitting in the recruiting email box and it’s my job to weed out only those who responded to my ad. Ugh.
Let’s talk about the subject line of your email, shall we? I saw four emails today that said, “job” in the subject line. Wow, helpful. That’s only slightly better than the four that said, “no subject” in the subject line. The one thing I can say for these folks is that they have saved me from reading on, because if you can’t be bothered to include something specific to help me out, I can’t be bothered to read on. I shouldn’t have to. You are the one looking for a job. Make it easy for me to hire you!
By the way, this reminds me of something I hear from casting directors all the time, “We want you to be great! We don’t want you to fail. It makes our jobs easier when we can find the right actor for the role in a hurry.” That’s exactly how I feel. I’m on your side! I want to want to hire you … but if you don’t give me anything, I can’t waste my time. There are 158 others who are (hopefully) trying harder and giving me something to go on.
I have to revisit the lousy, generic cover letter problem now. Many job seekers send very generic cover letters that they think will work for any position, forcing me to read through each and every one to see if there’s any meat in there at all. If the cover letter doesn’t give me enough information, I suppose they think I will read the resume to see if I can figure out which position they are hoping to get … but they are sadly mistaken. I don’t want to work that hard. If they don’t take the time to send me a cover letter that piques my interest and makes me want to know more, I’m done! And the little effort they spent sending me their resume is simply wasted time for them and for me.
Listen, I have heard a lot of people complaining about the lousy job market. I know it’s bad. I know people who have been unemployed for more than 10 months – smart, capable, talented people. And these people tell me they send out hundreds of resumes every week. But after seeing what comes into my mailbox, I have to wonder how specific they are being in their cover letters … because if they are anything like the ones I get, it’s no wonder they are still hunting!
Check out this “cover letter” which arrived a couple of days ago:
“Please find my resume attached. I am very interested in the Job. I do not have a salary request amount because right now i will take whatever i can get.
1. Your cover letter should include information which speaks to a specific job in which you are interested.
2. Your cover letter should intrigue me with a list of your skills and how they make you a great candidate for the position, some quantifiable results you have brought to previous companies and some indication of the benefits my company would enjoy by having you on my team.
3. Your cover letter should not make you seem desperate for any possible job … even if you are.
4. Always pay attention to details before you hit the “send” button. Make sure that you are capitalizing letters that ought to be capitalized, leaving the rest lowercase, writing in complete sentences and using correct punctuation. Try using a spell-checker before you send.
Ok … this was crazy, I know … but just like when I pass a car wreck, I tried to avoid it … but I had to look at the resume that accompanied that cover letter. Believe it or not, this was the objective:
“I am looking for a full time A/P, A/R, Collections, and Payroll, anything to do with bookkeeping. I will work for any amount of money at this time I just really need a job.”
It’s sad. I am sad for this person. But that will not make me call her. Again, this is not the kind of objective any employer wants to see. It is not helpful. We all know that your objective is to get a job and make some money so that you can pay rent and buy Baby a new pair of shoes. So, leave all of that out. Just tell me what your career objective is. And, if you are answering every single ad in hopes of landing anything at all for any amount of pay in any community, don’t tell me that! Instead, change your career objective to something specific about the job I have advertised. If you don’t, I am not going to read any further than the car wreck. (train wreck?)
The other end of the spectrum is the cover letter that is way too long. A good cover letter should be about three paragraphs, or less than one page long. One letter I received today was more than two pages long when I printed it out (single spaced). I lost interest after three paragraphs. Remember, I have 159 of these things to weed through. Have mercy on me.
One last thing before I close this rant on a positive note. Why do some people insist upon addressing their cover letters to “Sir,” or, “Dear Sirs?” In this day and age, you are just as likely to be writing to a woman as a man. How about, “To whom it may concern?” Or, “Hiring department?” Or, “Hello?” It amazes me how many people send resumes to “Sir” and don’t give it a second thought.
Here’s something that blew my mind recently. Earlier I told you that my recruiting ads are always blind, meaning I use an email address other than my firstname.lastname@example.org address. Well, when I recruited for an editor recently, I also placed a blind ad – meaning I didn’t mention the newspaper in the ad at all. Yet, I still received emails addressed to a specific newspaper. A few of them were addressed to the wrong newspaper. Some even used the name of another publisher, “Dear Joe Blow…” (or something like that). Hint: If the job for which you are applying requires you to check facts before you publish, make sure you have those facts straight before you send your cover letter. Why not just play it safe and go with “To whom it may concern?”
Are you ready for the positive note I promised? Here’s a good cover letter that came in today:
“To whom it may concern:
I am applying for the position of outside-sales advertising account manager with your newspaper. With my unique ability to combine technical skills with marketing aptitude, I am confident I can make an immediate contribution to your team.
As you can see from my resume, I have over 16 years of experience in the field of printing, marketing and advertising. My widespread knowledge in developing print operations, promotional brand imaging and advertising campaigns would clearly be an asset.
My extensive computer skills coupled with many years of international print and advertising experience allows me to bring creative, edgy and fresh new ideas with solid capabilities to this position within your company. As an account manager with your firm, my wealth of knowledge and experience within this field is undoubtedly an asset. I am requesting an hourly rate of $25 per hour or a salary equivalent to that rate.
In addition to reviewing my resume, please feel free to view samples of my work at the website listed. I look forward to having the opportunity to meet with you to discuss the values my strengths and experience can bring to your organization. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.
Thank you for your time and consideration.”
This letter tells me a lot: the position for which he is applying, the pay rate he is seeking and the fact that he can communicate effectively and professionally in writing. He knows how to string together a few sentences that make sense, impart the desired message and entice me to read more in his resume.
:::Ahhhhhhh … Thank you!:::
Do you have any job seeking or hiring rants you wish to share? Weigh in! I think it’s important for both sides to understand the process since we all want the same thing here: you want a job and I want to fill a position.