I read this article, “Hideous query email sparks 6 tips for PR job-seekers,” from the PR Daily News emails (that I receive from Ragan Communications) about students who are a bit careless and don’t take seriously their efforts to reach out into the community for work and experience. They apparently don’t understand that how they present themselves–either in physical form by their dress and manners or in written form by a “letter” (like the one that will be exemplified below)– is a reflection (whether a true one or not) of their name, their rep and their potential (to the eyes of the hirer, employer or future boss) as a worker.
Now, personally I have always been a grammar geek, and with good teaching and being a stickler for details, I have generally had good skills for spelling, punctuation, and proper wording.
Not that I have never made an error, because I have. Almost everyone I think is guilty of some (most likely, pathetic) oversight. And usually it’s always with the silly, stupid mistakes–the ones that would’ve been caught and fixed with a little more attention to detail or maybe even by the eye of a peer, had they asked one.
Below is this “letter”–if you can call it that–by an “anonymous” student that was featured in the above mentioned article plus tips from author Gil Rudawsky on how to avoid having an application or request letter that looks anything like this one.
I copied it because I thought the way he worded it was perfect– I didn’t want to paraphrase, change or minimize his mini lessons in any way.
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 do.
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.
Tip: 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?
Tip: 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?
Tip: 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.
Tip: Research a company before applying; this will save everyone time. There’s a reason why some companies hire candidates with five or ten 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.
Tip: 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.
Tip: Here’s a new one: Don’t send a cover letter from your phone. Guess we had to state the obvious.
(Isa’s Note: Bold points are from me not original author.)
Can you imagine getting this from a student who is applying for the PR position at your company? Even if he may have had all the right qualifications, because of his carelessness, he would be thrown out of the selection pile before even being possibly considered for the position. Especially for PR job: a business cannot hire him as their representation and face of the company if he does not care about such details as his own application letter.
so lets all lurn and realize: if you want 2 show yourself as practiced n profficient, short cuts r nevr a good option for any1, especially in thi situation! It important to chek how ur presentin yurself and make sure that your’e alwayz be professional. A student who truly cares will take the x-tra time to proof-reed there final draft. They may be even get it peer reviewed for a 2nd opinion and 4 heven’s sake: they’ll certinly use spell check!
It could be the different between the ‘yes’ you want and the ‘no’ you dred.*
(*Note:* *In case, you didn’t know… that last part: yeah, that was on purpose. I
now…know how to0…to spell…duh.)