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Last week Brazen Life shared an excerpt of an email that was sent out to a list of 900 rejected job applicants. That email, originally posted on Gawker, is going viral, stirring up a ton of controversy because of the hiring manager’s condescending and abrasive tone.
But if we can get over that for a minute, there’s actually some good stuff in the email, even if this guy does come off as a tiny little you-know-what.
So, pitchforks down, everybody. Below are my four major takeaways:
Observation #1: Competition for jobs is extremely fierce
I know what you’re thinking: duh. But this is important to remind yourself, especially if you’re out there trying to get hired in this competitive market. It’s easy to think you’re perfect for a job… and then feel totally rejected when you don’t get it.
This hiring situation is a great example of an extremely competitive applicant pool with overly qualified applicants. About 900 people applied, and only 50 made the short list? That’s less than 6 percent!
Also, the email drops names of major pubs that some applicants had written for in the past. That being the case, what are these people doing applying to a startup online news journal’s job posting on Craigslist?
These are the odds we’re up against each time we apply for jobs. It’s rough out there.
Observation #2: The first step in getting ahead of the competition is coming up with a decent application
Here’s where the advice actually comes in handy. Though the email did have decidedly snarky undertones, the suggestions in the bullet points were actually solid (and the majority of Gawker’s commentors agree).
Some applicants were committing rookie mistakes, like not attaching a cover letter, not following directions and not using spellcheck. Other problems were more stylistic, like “Don’t start every sentence in your application with a ‘I’.”
My personal favorite bullet point was the “Do give a good reason for why I should hire you.” If you think about it from the company’s perspective, a hiring manager has no reason to care about why the job is a good fit for you. Their priority is to fit the right person for the job description. As a result, hiring managers only care about why you are a good fit for the job – so tell them how you can help them, not vise versa.
Observation #3: Rock stars get hired
It’s no secret that hiring managers want to hire people that stand out from the pack. However, let’s back up for a moment. Say you’ve never written for NYT, HuffPo, WaPo, or any of the other name-dropped newspapers. What is one to do? Two things:
1. Brag about what you can. Maybe you were editor of you school newspaper. Maybe you wrote a blog post that got noticed and re-tweeted by a well-known influencer. Maybe you just have sick skills, and your writing speaks for itself. Be confident. A cover letter is no place for self-doubt.
2. Keep building up your rock star status. If you didn’t get this job, continue building up your portfolio by submitting your best freelance pieces to any online pubs that will accept them – so you’ll be more qualified and experienced next time around.
Observation #4: Job-hunting is not the right time to be overly sensitive to criticism
Looking through those 42 bullet points of gripes, I can’t help but sheepishly admit that I’ve committed one or two of those infractions at some point. I’m okay with the criticism; nobody’s perfect. Admitting when you’ve made a mistake is the first step to writing a better cover letter next time.
Though this hiring manager appears to have a major superiority complex, I can’t hate on the email too much because the advice does seem earnest. So take it for what it’s worth – and maybe it will help you down the road.
Tina Mercado’s career in project management and strategic marketing has taken her as far and wide as Spain, Mexico, South Africa, DC, and Boston. Tina is the author & illustrator of “You Can Do It, Bunny!” a picture book story about staying persistent while job-hunting.