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How Not To Ask For Help In The Job Search

The example below is one of the worst examples of an employment inquiry I have ever received. You don't need to read more than the first paragraph to see where this is heading. But read it thoroughly, maybe even twice.

worst cover letter How Not To Ask For Help In The Job Search

Is it just me or does the negative tone and desperation of this email just make you cringe? Aside from the negativity, the unnecessary sarcasm, and a few typos, it is obvious that this candidate sent this blanket inquiry to dozens of recruiters. Big time fail. I can't imagine I'm the only person who wouldn't feel comfortable putting someone who presents himself like this in front of a client.

A couple weeks ago, Stephanie Lloyd made a good point in her guest post on my blog about how candidates shouldn't come across as desperate in their job search. Career Hub also did a good piece recently called 10 Ways To Avoid Sabotaging Your Job Search By Being Desperate Godsend hd

The Relic video .

Telling candidates not to sound desperate always raises a lot of questions, especially for those who are out of work and need a job to pay the bills. We all need to pay the bills. We may have alimony, mortgages, credit card bills, student loans, and child support - the list goes on and on. Your financial obligations are a given, so bringing it up in the job search is completely unnecessary. I get numerous inquiries each week asking for help with blatant statements about personal financial situations. Don't be that person.

Tips for writing a good employment inquiry letter:

    1. Make it personal. Remind the person where you met, how you found his or her name, or who gave you the recommendation.

    2. Explain why you are writing and exactly what information you would like to find out. People don't know how to help you if they don't know what you need.

    3. Stay positive and cheerful. Do exactly the opposite of the example above.

    4. Market an accomplishment or two. Make people want to call you.

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    20 Comments - Add yours!

    Rita (April 22nd, 2009)

    Flickr says that photo is unavailable. I’m really curious.

    Rita

    Stephanie (April 22nd, 2009)

    Lindsay – cringeworthy, not to mention depressing! Thanks for the tips on writing better cover letters than this one (although it shouldn’t be too difficult ;) )

    Amy Leyack (April 22nd, 2009)

    Very, very helpful. It’s an interesting time out there- and a lot of people are desperate, unfortunately. Wonderful of you to put this together, Lindsay. Thanks!

    Damon Manetta (April 22nd, 2009)

    Thanks for sharing. I think the worst part of the letter is that there is no mention of their accomplishments nor a real mention of their target position (level, industry, type of organization). You as a recruiter are not only turned off, but can’t really help even if you wanted to do so.

    Cathy Johnson (April 22nd, 2009)

    Lindsay — I do truly hope you didn’t just publish a letter that someone sent to you in a very desperate state. I can’t even imagine how they would feel if they saw it. Whether you blacked things out of it and didn’t use their name – you’ve just sent them in a deeper despair. Why? Couldn’t you have found a better more compassionate way to tell people how to learn from this “lesson”.

    After 2 years of unemployment and rejection letters, sure this individual needs some help — but what you just did is really uncalled for.

    maybe it takes someone to be there — to understand. You are sitting in a very high seat right now. Take the high road. Please and thank you.

    Lindsay (April 22nd, 2009)

    Cathy, I know not everyone is going to agree that using someone as an example of a terrible way to approach their job search is appropriate. You are entitled to your opinion and I respect it. I haven’t said anything I wouldn’t have a problem telling the candidate. A huge part of my job is having to give people the bad news – only one person gets the job at the end of the day and it all starts with the initial presentation. I could have picked this letter apart sentence by sentence, but that would be uncalled for. Rather I thought it would be useful to give some helpful tips on how to approach someone about a job.

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    Dan Green (June 18th, 2009)

    Lindsay,
    I sincerely hope this letter is just a composite.
    Dan

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    tow (October 20th, 2009)

    dear lindsay. easy and straightforward to make mark this a worst case example. However it might be possible to avoid similar desperation, if HR specialists and headhunters would take the time to develop customized feedback on strength and eventual weaknesses regarding the benchmark with the specific job application. This instead of the “faked customized” standard response letters would help applicants to understand better their “positioning”.
    Now unfortunately it is not them to pay the HR consultant services.

    Lindsay (October 21st, 2009)

    Tow, I understand job seekers frustration when they don’t get callbacks from their resumes and cover letters when applying for positions from HR and recruiting specialists, but realistically, it’s impossible for HR and recruiting to respond individually to every single job inquiry or application. Many times we receive resumes from people who are just applying to anything and everything they see without even considering what they are applying for. If the candidate is called in for an interview and has had a meeting with the company, then yes, the interviewers should be kind and professional enough to let the candidate know where they stand in the interview process and if they are being considered or not. If possible, it would be helpful to give some specific feedback to help the candidate in the future. Companies that don’t do this and ignore candidates after their interviews risk damaging their employer brands. And it’s just plain rude.
    Many times though, not getting the job doesn’t have anything to do with qualifications, but rather the personality or “cultural fit” for a position. It’s important that both candidates and HR/Recruiting Managers have an understanding of how the process works, otherwise, we all end up having these “HR is evil” and “Candidates don’t get it” attitudes.

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