Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Location: Freeport, IL
|Posted: Jul 20, 2007 7:08 am Post subject: 'Cover Letters from Hell'--How's your candidate quality
|Why am I posting an article from October 2006? I came across this on another web forum, and I'm posting it for two reasons:
First, I'm a true news junkie and I don't remember seeing it back then, so I'm betting most of our readers haven't seen it, either.
Second, I want to ask how things are with your applicants. Have you seen a drop in the quality of applicant similar to the one described in this article, either college or high school grads?
Here's the piece, from ABC News:
'Cover Letters from Hell' Expose Poor Quality of College Grads
A Chicago Adverstising Agency Highlights a Shocking Number of Errors in Job Seekers' Cover Letters
By KATE KLONICK
Oct. 19, 2006 —
If recent college graduates apply for a job at Killian Advertising in Chicago, they'd better mind their grammar, spelling and punctuation -- not to mention their sentence structure, syntax and diction -- lest they end up in the company's "Cover Letters From Hell" that it posts on its Web site.
Six years ago, Bob Killian, owner and founder of the agency, began posting anonymous excerpts from poorly written cover letters he received from those asking for employment.
The mistakes ranged from unfortunate omissions ("I am seeking a new position as i have recently been laid" and "I also have a degree English which serves me well in editing text for poor grammer or typos") to nonsense sentences and topics ("It is through the innovational process, as well as media, that the features of an image can be highlighted and brought to the forefront for the consumer viewing" or "The colors red, blue, and lavender are those that I identify with the most. I feel they accurately describe my personality. I choose red because I turn red when I get embarrassed ...").
Some candidates even try their hand at poetry -- one girl rewrote "'T'was the Night Before Christmas," editing herself and the advertising company into the story and substituting presents for a job.
The goal of putting the letters online, Killian said, is to show job seekers that, "Hello! This is not a recognizable form of communication!"
Ridicule Not the Point
Recently, Killian went through 100 letters that arrived at his agency from applicants requesting jobs and interviews. Of the 100, not one was without some kind of spelling, grammar or syntax error.
At first, Killian thought that a personal approach was best. When one of the letters came from a senior graduating from a fairly prestigious college and did not contain a single sentence without an error, Killian drafted a "gentle note," advising the student to get some help with his writing.
What Killian got in response was an angry four-page reply.
"That really set him off," Killian recalls. "We haven't done it since. We don't want to have to change the locks on the building."
Unfortunately, in the 19 years of the company's existence, the problem seems to be getting worse, which Killian attributes to changes in technology and everyday communication.
"There are a whole lot of people that can't speak in an authentic voice," Killian said. "We're not a generation that writes a lot. Colleges don't seem to be very demanding.
"Texting is making it worse. We're getting printed letters with the letter 'U' standing for 'you.' And this kid wants to be hired in a communications position!"
While the site started off as just a joke within the company, its popularity has helped Killian find business clients and literary agents find him. A small book is currently being compiled with "Cover Letters from Hell" excerpts the company has collected over the years.
Though the site's commentary pokes fun at applicants, Killian insists that ridicule is not really the point of the compilation.
"Quite a few [potential applicants] are intimidated from applying, or sending a cover letter at all, but all that they should do is exercise some care," Killian said.
"I think if people just absorb what's in there, they'll at least be able to write clearly and express themselves in a meaningful way."