Lindsay Olson

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Thank You Letter vs. Yankees


A candidate interviews for a senior level position and after several in-person interviews we get to the writing test stage. The company then calls me with an update: "Skip the writing test and cut the candidate loose. Poor writing has already been demonstrated in the follow-up thank you letter."

Wow, is it that bad? I immediately called the candidate to break the news. I hadn't seen a copy of the thank you letter at this point and so I first asked to see a copy of it. This is what I received.

"Are you sure you sent the right letter, I mean, I see you wrote 'reflect those skills necessary...' twice. And... Maybe you accidentally sent your draft?," I asked.

"No, it's impossible. This is a letter written by a career professional for me! I send this to everyone!," the candidate answered.

It wasn't an easy call. I continued to express my opinion and advised the candidate that the letter never leave that inbox again.

We nicely parted ways and a few minutes later this arrived:

Red Sox vs. Yankees. Ummm... no, I think we missed the point here.

Lessons learned

  • Always write your own content - thank you letters, writing samples, interview confirmations, resume, etc. Everything

    Dr. Dolittle: A Tinsel Town Tail divx

    . You need to know what it says because your every move is being evaluated during this interview process. Look at it once, twice, three times. Read it out loud. Even a simple spelling mistake in a follow-up note could cost you the job.

  • Always take responsibility for your actions. This person was obviously very embarrassed by the letter, but rather than reflecting on the situation and using the opportunity to fix it, the person found whatever reason to blame it on non-contributing factors.
  • Try not to take rejection personally. This one is hard, especially if you really wanted that job and it was down to the wire. Only one person gets the job and competition is fierce. If you choose to take it personally, at least don't act out on it. How one accepts criticism and rejection is a good sign of their character and nobody should burn bridges. In the PR industry, it is very likely you will run into the hiring manager or a recruiter again in your career and unprofessional behavior is something that always sticks.

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