Some letters never make it out our door. Out of the reams of paper that cross our desks each day, we keep a select few in our main office. These get copied and circulated, posted up in break rooms and on cafeteria refrigerators us to laugh at.
If you're starting to think we're insensitive for making light of others' joblessness, we ask you to hold your judgment for a moment. You should keep in mind two things: (1) the authors of these letters wrote us inquiring about staff writer positions, and (2) these people write letters as well as we draw, and that's saying plenty.
We've reproduced one such job seeker's letter below. Line by line, we'll parse what it says to get at what it really means to say.
Dear Sir or Madam:
Right off the bat, this candidate gets it wrong because he doesn't know whether we're men or women. We'll forgive him (or her) this and move on, as there's still a chance to net an "A" for effort.
My objective is to secure a rewarding position at your company.
By which is meant: "Hey, hiring manager, you're so dumb that I have to tell you why I'm writing you, as if sending you my résumé weren't enough of a giveaway."
I am a very hardworking, dedicated, and motivated man. Just ask any of my references. I'm accomplished and results-driven.
Ah, so our candidate is male, as if that would influence our hiring decision any. The rest of this phrase means: "I have no skills applicable to your business but am desperate enough to cold call you on the off-chance you'll write back." And that bit about being accomplished and results-driven means he would punt his own mother in the teeth if enough money were offered.
As a team player, I work best in a collaborative environment.
That's a loaded statement. Saying you're a team player is shorthand for: "I don't know how to do anything, so I pass everything off to other people." And knowing how to work in a collaborative environment means he's good at blaming others for his failures while taking credit for their achievements.
In light of these, he does appear to have management potential.
I strive for challenging work.
"Please hire me, I'll do anything."
While I'm best suited for the senior supervisory analyst job, I'm also available for any other positions.
What the hell is a senior supervisory analyst? We're not sure there's such a position in our corporate structure. That aside, the sentence above parses out to: "While I would prefer the job that pays the most, I really am that hard-up for cash that I'll mop your floors if you let me."
Current market bellwethers indicate a clear paradigm shift in the global economy...
"I have no idea what I'm saying, so here are some big words."
...and I am uniquely positioned to leverage my individual attributes to our mutual benefit.
"I went to college. Hire me."
My primary motivator is the sense of satisfaction I get after a job well done.
Such a lie. Our accountants would go into ecstatic fits if everyone who worked here were paid in personal satisfaction and not money. Banks would sure have a hard time cashing those checks, but that's beside the point.
I invite you to briefly peruse my two-page resume. You will see that because of the fact that my accomplishments speak for themselves, I would make for a fine addition to your team.
Ugh. So many errors per square inch of page that someone ought to develop a specialized unit of measurement to track them. Something like:
Dunce Coefficient = (Errors / Surface Area of a Page) x Number of Pages
First, he uses the word "peruse" in a sense contrary to what the word means. To peruse means to perform an in-depth analysis of something. If we understand him correctly, he'd invite us to take a cursory yet thorough review of his materials? Unfortunately, his "invitation" did not come with an RSVP section where we could decline with regrets.
And his resume is two pages long -- that's twice as long as it needs to be, unless the three letters after his name are Ph.D.
Something else bears mentioning: "...because of the fact that my accomplishments..." We'd love to call this candidate in for an interview just to ask, "So, which of your accomplishments is because of the fiction?"
I would be happy to supply references upon your request.
Earlier in the letter he stressed how all his references would vouch for him, and yet he doesn't have the decency to identify those references for us. We understand discretion is the better part of valor, especially when your job references are CIA agents or international spies. Chances are his references are his parents, so why the secrecy?
That letter was painful. Our bosses sent us home with hazard pay after reading it. Thankfully, our nausea had passed in a few hours and we were back to work the following morning. To this day, the letter hangs on an office whiteboard. We use it to haze new employees.
We did eventually call this candidate in for an interview. It lasted all of three minutes. Check out the comic strip below to see how it went.