How to be rejectedMegan Kelly ▼ | Sunday August 22, 2010 6:01PM ET
Qualifications are important and let's assume that CVs you got are full of knowledge and experience. It is to be assumed that years of learning will also bring some experience how to behave when searching for a job and what does it mean to be a "professional". Well, you must no assume that because there will always be candidates that will surprise - not in a good way.
Cover letters are wonderful way to make the first selection because they reveal a great deal about the job candidate, how he approaches the job and is he mature enough to be given responsibility. The sad truth is that university education is skill-oriented and it doesn't teach anything about soft skills. Let's see some bad examples of highly-qualified persons that surprised even the most experienced head hunters.
First, there's no cover letter. OK, the days of handwritten and snail-mailed cover letters are gone, probably for good. But even in the era of e-mailed job applications and online CVs, the lack of a proper introductory note is inexcusable.
A good cover letter can be as valuable as the CV since the cover is the personal part of the application, while the rest is the same work history that every other employer will receive. If you get a blank e-mail with a CV attached to it or an e-mail with nothing but a link to someone's information online, you should delete that e-mail. A missing cover letter means just one thing: "I'm too lazy to write why I'm interested in your company".
I know that we all are not poets, but an atrocious cover letter is almost as bad as no letter at all and sometimes it's even worse. There are head hunters that have received e-mails written using internet slang ("U sound like awesome company, and I think I'd b awesome, LOL"). They've gotten short notes that read so arrogant ("My info attached, call for more info"), and they've been sent e-mails that were short-sighted ("What are the pay and benefits? Tell me that I will send my CV").
If someone shows no initiative or interest in learning about the company, they will get no serious interest in return. So, what should you do with a letter addressed "To whom it may concern"? Does that candidate know that there is a person in the HR department and that person - surprise! - has a name So, do your homework, know to which company you are sending that application and spend some time to get it know. Otherwise - you are not interested.
Bad CV. Yes, despite all of the resources available, quality CVs are rare and there's no excuse for that. The thing is that if someone can't do a good job with the most important document he may ever write, what does that say about the work the new employer can expect from him?
What a CV with many typos, bad grammar and lack of facts tells you? Again - the candidate is not interested. If he is truly and honestly looking for a job he will try to do his best and he will try to make that CV as good as possible. "I've done a lot of things" certainly is not the sentence of someone who tried very hard.
We admit, we are all humans and we all make mistakes. But there is a great difference between a cover letter with one typo and one that reads "U R soooo cool company, call me LOL". The later should be answered with "Get lost". Since we're all cool the candidate will understand, right? ■