{ 60 comments… read them below }

  1. Kate*

    Yes, this breaks my heart. But, I just put up a new job posting last night, and I underlined twice that I wouldn’t consider any resume without a cover letter. I have received 10 applications now, and only 3 had cover letters. So I have to give this person points for at least making an effort.

  2. Michelle*

    Thumbs way down….this saddens me, especially since I tailor my cover letter and still can’t find suitable employment.

    1. Caitie F*

      Exactly! I tailor every cover letter and put a lot of work into it but get nothing. Sigh

      1. Michelle*

        Yeah…and the owner of this application has gotten way more attention here than (I’m certain) half of my applications have. It may be all negative attention and that’s bad, but at least someone’s taking a second look.

        I agree that this is probably someone who doesn’t know any better.

  3. Star*

    That’s… um… wow.

    I’m just surprised they saw the job on a web site in the first place. By the looks of that letter, the sender is stuck in 1975.

  4. Kate*

    Heart breaking is the perfect way to describe this. I used to see a lot of cover letters like this one when I hired for entry-level restaurant stuff, most of them from people who were just getting out of treatment centers or halfway houses. So either the in-house career placement assistants are over-worked/out of touch/shamefully negligent, or people are looking for looking for job hunting guidance on their own and finding bad advice. I mean, it’s one thing to not put much effort or research into job hunting, but there’s so much competing information out there, and so much of it is terrible, that if you don’t start out with an idea of what a professional resume/cover letter looks like I can see how you could easily be steered wrong.

  5. Liz*

    Who is handing out that form? It’s amazing how much bad advice is out there for job seekers.

    1. Jamie*

      There really is. I am seeing this first hand as a lot of the applicants we’re getting for our open positions are coming from the same placement agencies and I am seeing identical cover letters and objectives. And I mean they are the same verbatim.

      And what’s with the objectives on the resume? I don’t know why you would want to waste space telling me how you want a position which will enhance you both personally and professionally. (And yes, that was in there word for word from all the people from one source.) That’s actually kind of a tall order – and personal enhancement hasn’t been part of the gig of any place I’ve worked …but that’s just me.

      I don’t think the objectives hurt anything, they don’t with me, they just seem silly and I ignore them. I’ve never used one on my resume – what do you think, Allison? Is there a benefit to this I’m just not seeing?

    2. Anonymous*

      This really does look to me like an assignment they pass out in Adult Ed classes. (if you don’t know what this is, it’s the school that helps you learn the language, get citizenship, get a job, get off welfare, etc). It’s sad, but some folks are in tough shape.

      1. Jamie*

        I have contacted places exactly like that looking for applicants – you are exactly right. I think it’s a great thing to help people find work – I just wish they weren’t so full of bad advice regarding the paperwork.

    3. Maddy*

      Well said! I’ve read some many job articles that I don’t know what is the right way and what is the wrong way anymore.

  6. Jamie*

    I just started my first (and hopefully last) foray into hiring for multiple positions and my hat is off to those of you who do this on a regular basis – tales of resumes on this blog are fun, slogging through them in real life…not so much.

    I will tell you of the 75 or so resumes I’ve gotten in the last week almost all have cover letters, but only a small handful had letters that were clearly written by the applicant regarding the specific job. Personally those get flagged to the top of the pile where I’m concerned.

    There’s a huge difference in a cover letter and a template of a cover letter.

    I had one that addressed how he was a little short on experience, but explained how his other skills were transferable – he also threw in a little something about why he would like to work for us showing he had clearly hit the website before applying.

    Sounds basic? He was the only one of 75 who did that. So for those of you tailoring your cover letters, I hope you keep it up. It really does matter.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! This is why I’m always ranting about tailoring your cover letter. I think people don’t quite realize what a difference it makes. Sometimes I get letters from people who say that they finally started trying it and they were astonished by how many interviews they started getting. It works! I want to drill this into everyone’s heads.

    2. Michelle*

      Even though I mentioned above that I haven’t been getting good results, I wrote a tailored CL awhile ago where I said I was a bit short on experience (but had other skills) and was actually called for an interview. The interviewer even said that I had a great cover letter. So it does work….just not as often as I would like :)

  7. Wilton Businessman*

    The person obviously didn’t care one way or the other. Probably just trying to extend their ObamaCash benefits.

    1. ckf82*

      Long-time reader, first time commenter here. I just want to ask, is this sort of comment really necessary? I think this is not the right forum at all to make this sort of remark.

    2. Anonymous*

      This kind of comment is completely obscene and totally ignorant. Apparently the education system in your neck of the woods needs a serious adjustment. I’m surprised you can even read this web site.

  8. ant*

    Oy, we got a cover letter for a position that was a girl applying for the job and throwing her fiance in along with her as qualified. She might have gotten a call back on her own, as would he, but together it was too weird.

      1. Anonymous*

        Similar to the fiance situation – I’ve worked for the same company many years. Someone I barely know applied for a job here, threw my name on their cover letter and during the interview mentioned our great friendship and that I would help them in this role. Not once, but according to the recruiter my name came up several times as a resource. The recruiter wanted to know how much I was willing to help – and I didn’t even know he applied for a job let alone what he applied for. Talk about embarrassing.

  9. Anonymous*

    I think it’s entirely possible this person just didn’t know better. I’m not sure why you assumed they were solely interested in cheating the system with this cover letter.

    1. scott m*

      I, age with this. The person might be rejected but you never know the story behind the words.

    2. ThomasT*

      I don’t think there’s any suggestion in either sending this to AAM or AAM’s post that this person was trying to “cheat the system.” Just this someone who has received very little and/or very poor job hunting advice.

      1. Drew*

        I believe it was just a misdirected reply that was intended to address the “ObamaCash” post above.

  10. JC*

    Should a cover letter state the reason you are looking such as being recently laid off? Thanks

  11. Original Submitter*

    PS: We don’t have, and will never have, an opening for Patron Services Associate.

  12. Henning Makholm*

    +1 heartbreaking. My first reaction is a deep desire to see to it somehow that this person be hugged. Which probably isn’t, objectively, what they need most, so I fear that makes me a Bad Person.

    Second reaction is that they’re seeking work in “clerical or administrative support”, even while demonstrating a quite horrible sense for written communication. Does that make them more or less hugworthy? I can’t decide.

  13. Rachel - Former HR Blogger*

    At least it’s honest. I can’t tell you how many cover letters I receive that are just missing the lines. It’s obvious when you cover letter is just a fill in the blank.

  14. Anonymous*

    I know it may seem unbelievable to many of you, but it’s possible the person doesn’t have access to a computer or a printer. They made an effort to be professional, even if it wasn’t successful.

    BTW, @Wilton Businessman, do you realize that the people who are collecting unemployment benefits paid into the system? That’s why it’s called “insurance,” so stop the abusive remarks belittling people who are just trying to find a job.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      You paid into a system that was setup to give nearly two years of unemployment? No.

  15. Librarian*

    I agonize over my cover letters — so much so that I sometimes don’t get the application in on time or never write it at all. I read a blog post by someone in my industry that once a person finds his/her “voice” (words that really express who you are and your fit with the job) the interviews will probably start coming. Of course, someone else told me that he never reads cover letters as part of being on a hiring committee.

    Of course, the bad cover letter shows that there is a job opportunity out there for those who want to work in social services and willing to live on a lower salary. Oh, wait…many states are cutting social services for people most vulnerable in this economy. That way, the state governments don’t have to worry about jobs for poor people, just those who vote and pay taxes. Can you tell I live in NJ, can’t find a job in my field, can’t work retail because I really stink at counting change and don’t like my governor? Sorry, little rant there. I’m OK.

    I’ll go agonize over my cover letters and the serious medical treatments that I will undergo in the next few weeks. Now there’s a gap on a resume (as well as 4 months last year) that one doesn’t want to explain.

    P.S. I will also echo the sentiments of the person who pointed out the writer of the cover letter may not have access to a computer/printer or even a typewriter. In cities like Newark and Camden, libraries which offer free computers for online applications (which even some gas stations are using) are closed. My particular interest at this time is the growing “digital divide”; I’m a librarian previously employed in news libraries (another type of library that is slowly fading).

  16. Nate*

    I personally think that if we had a government structure that educated people on how to go about applying for employment in a pragmatic manner (but not through short-cuts), these examples would not surface.

    The problem is that the current systems in place for educating clients on job hunting / resume building /cover letters have not been cross checked by success stories. There has to be some kind of feedback that these applicants are getting that demonstrates that this kind of method *clearly* does not work.

      1. Esra*

        I think a lot of people take for granted the knowledge and opportunities they’ve been exposed to.

        For you, this is common sense. For others, they would not have had the benefit of being exposed to proper job searching techniques or have had any sort of role model to look to as an example.

        1. Nate*

          It’s like Esra said – I wouldn’t readily lop this into “common sense”, as even common sense can be subjective. There are many things I could easily hand out as common sense that most people may not even know about (like how to balance a chequebook and how to appropriately budget expenses based on income).

  17. Phyr*

    Holy crap… Thank god I wasn’t drinking anything as I read that. It does look like it has been photo copied to death so maybe someone gave it to them to use? Wow, this is as bad as the woman that had their father fill out their application and ask all when she would be starting.

    Personally I feel that there needs to be a class in high school on how to get a job. Thus enabling the High Schoolers to get their working papers and be prepared. I would have taken it.

      1. Phyr*

        You would make an awesome teacher. :3

        And speaking of things not to do… Someone just mailed us two letters, each to different departments. No cover letter just a photo copied employment history for a resume. I can nit-pic this to death but… I just don’t get how people can think this is ok.

        1. hollylove*

          Not saying all high schools do this but my high school offered a college and career course going over specifically what you need to do apply for college or those who didn’t want to or weren’t going to go, how to prepare for the work force i.e resume, cover letter, interview skills ect.

    1. Karyn*

      There actually was a class like this in my high school! It was required for my Graduating Class, and it was called Career and Life Planning. It was taught by a guy who reminded me of Dennis Miller, in EVERY WAY. We paid very little attention to most of what he said, but the one thing I did pay attention to was the resume/cover letter stuff, which, in this economy, I am grateful for. I credit that as part of the reason I’ve never been unemployed for more than 6 months since high school.

  18. Anonymous*

    Jamie, you too can get a job teaching in Adult Ed. Most teachers are business people from the community and teach part-time. It’s a great way to give back, Adult Ed is hiring (do you hear me now posters looking for jobs?), and what a great feeling when a former student becomes your Principal….[http://www.adultedlearners.org/browse/index.cfm?fuseaction=ViewStory&StudentId=11]

    1. Jamie*

      That’s a great thing to do and I really admire people who can contribute in that way. From what I can see it’s a much needed service in many areas.

      However, it’s important to know one’s strengths and weaknesses – and dealing with people in a training capacity is not in my skill set. I am happy to volunteer my technical services when the need arises – but anyone who knows me would be glad I wasn’t foisting my lack of people skills on job hunters who have enough problems!

  19. Emily*

    The saddest part is the passive voice in the second sentence. If you’re using a form letter (where “letter” is a generous term), at least write it well!

  20. Anonymous*

    This letter seems pretty clearly to come from some kind of employment assistance office. Could be a school or government program. Some people don’t have access to a computer, so this is all they can do.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      There’s this amazing place called the Public Library where you can use a computer for free.

  21. Christine*

    I think this person took the ‘take a generic cover letter and tailor it to the job you are applying for’ advice just a little too literally.

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