I received an email today from someone writing in to apply for a position in my organisation. It’s not a surprise, we receive about one a day on average for internship applications, writers, stylists et cetera. What was surprising was the language used in this email correspondence from a 25-year-old guy.
Image courtesy of Matthew Hurst / Flickr
I dug through my emails for past applications and realised that nearly all the emails I received in the past few months had some similarities to this person’s writing style. And they were all from the post-Gen X era i.e. Millennials.
Now I’m aware that Millennials don’t like being categorised or stereotyped into one single form, and I’m sure this isn’t for all Millennials out there (I do know a few rather tuned-in individuals from that era). However, the next time you’re writing a cover letter for a job, here’s a few useful tips for you.
Image courtesy of Flazingo Photos / Flickr
1. Be a little formal
We get it, you’re relaxed and cool and hip and all that, and you don’t dig official correspondences and all. But this is a job application. You’re writing to ask someone to offer you moolah for spending time in their offices. Don’t write in casually. We aren’t friends as yet. Find out how the person prefers to be addressed, if not, stick with surnames, not first. There’s no need to start the letter or email with a “Dear”, but don’t do “Hi” or “Hello”. This isn’t a Whatsapp conversation.
2. Be specific
If you’re asking for a job, tell your [potential] employer where you received this information from. We aren’t the SS, we would just like to know the source and find out what you’ve been told. More importantly, don’t expect information to be fed to you. Find out what you will be doing. You have this thing called the Internet. It allows you to find out stuff like what a brand is about, what are the general job scopes of a particular role et cetera. In a professional environment, we aren’t here to facilitate your life. You’re here to contribute to the team. Start by being proactive.
3. It’s not all about you
Contrary to popular expectations of the Millennial generation, our lives do not revolve around making yours more pleasant. This might be more apparent and sensitive when you’re writing to work for a publishing industry, but your cover letter should not revolve around how the job would be great for you. It should be about how you can contribute to the job and to the brand/company. Feel free to inject your interests and knowledge where it’s relevant to the job. Don’t get me wrong, it’s delightful that you enjoy surfing, but unless you’re applying for a job at Billabong or a surf shop or a surfing magazine, it’s useless information to me. This isn’t a date. It’s a job application.
Image courtesy of Nathan Rupert / Flickr
4. Be honest
Don’t oversell yourself or make your past experience in work sound larger or more significant than they actually are. That’s possibly the most irritating, when you actually come in and we discover that you’re nowhere near the skill levels we need. If you can do it, say so. If you can’t, be honest but say that you’ll give it your best shot and you’ll definitely work at it. That attitude will more likely convince me to hire you than telling me you’re an expert at Indesign, but then you can’t figure out how to operate it.
5. Keep your expectations to yourself first
That’s not a tyrant’s demand that you should just obey. All I’m saying is, things such as pay, benefits and other miscellaneous issues that have to do with fair exchange should not be done over an email. I’ve never had to put this down in my resumes. These are discussions you have with a potential employer over the course of conversation. Tell him your needs and see if they can be reconciled. We’ve had staff who have flexible working hours because they have family matters that need to be resolved. You’re asking for a job. And while you definitely have the right to choose your employer, we have the same right to choose our employee and we aren’t looking to meet your expectations, unless you’re a hot shot whom we’re pursuing. We’re happy to compromise, but if you’ve written it down as an expectation, I’m more likely to consider you inflexible and ignore your job application, than consider alternatives after I’ve spoken to you and decide you’re a potential candidate.