What Not To Do When Job Searching

By Hucky Austin

I know that in your mind you think you are the perfect fit for Tiger Media International. Yet, you failed to mention what you are applying for; was it the janitor, the receptionist or the executive protection position?

By the way, my name is spelled “Thompson” and since I am a male, I was a little put off by the fact that you addressed me as “Ms. Leslie Thompson.” I suppose my first name threw you off. I suppose somebody didn’t do their research prior to submitting their materials.

Speaking of research, you mentioned that you “love to work with animals.” Our business, Tiger Media International, is a public relations marketing firm. No tigers. Or lions. Or bears.

By the time I got to the end of your resume (all six pages, 10-point Frenchy Script) I understood that you were interested in the Executive Protection position which was posted online. In that advertisement, I specifically requested that only individuals who speak and write fluent Spanish submit a resume. While your cover letter started with the greeting “Ola” and you sprinkled in words like “caliente” (3 times) and closed with “muchos gracias,” nowhere on your resume does it indicate that you actually speak Spanish.

Your resume painted quite a detailed portrait of you. Who knew a child could make that much in lemonade sales? And the three months you worked at Taco Gringo in 1998; you seem to feel that experience relates to this job. I can’t see it. But I’m glad you can. Oh, wait. Does that have something to do with speaking Spanish?

The job advertisement indicated that 50% of the job would require international travel, accompanying our top executive on business trips. It appears you don’t have a passport, have never negotiated an airport with a VIP, speak any foreign languages, or are even available to travel. I noticed your cover letter didn’t address this important job requirement, or how you felt about it.

Also, as stated in the ad, 25% of the position requires budget and expense reporting using Microsoft Excel. I suspect you don’t use a computer (hence, the hand-printed cover letter) because your resume didn’t indicate any computer skills or knowledge of software. The last 25% of the job is comprised of driving VIPs to and from stockholder meetings, corporate dinners and social engagements. Shall I guess that you don’t have a driver’s license? Or that your driving record is less than spotless? I’m shooting in the dark here . . . no pun intended.

I see that you studied at Omniscient Bodyguard Academy. I have not heard of this training facility, but after making a few calls to colleagues in the field, I have learned that it is an online course that costs thousands of dollars and the principals have been indicted for fraudulent practices.

I can appreciate that you find your qualifications to be superior, and the fact that you will accept “nothing less than $80K” certainly speaks to your strong (if misguided) sense of worth.

I regret to inform you that we will not be in need of your services at this time. Or any other time. Ever.


Mr. Leslie Thompson
Human Resources

* * * * * * * * * * *
The above letter is meant to help readers to understand the myriad of mistakes and omissions an applicant can make when submitting a cover letter and resume. How many mistakes can you spot? Have you made some of these same errors?

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  • Ross Harrison

    Though in truth, Wannabe Employee should be thankful that Mr. Thompson took the time to reply to his application, most would have filed him in folder 13 (the trash) and moved on. He was given the opportunity to at least learn from his mistakes – however, I may be off the mark here, this particular candidate probably would not have seen things this way!
    Still, hugely funny!

  • Greg Scott

    Great article as usual Harlan, funny and relevant.

  • Alonzo Gomez

    Well worth reprinting because so true (and funny!). And beyond the job search and application process, it’s amazing how few of us practice due diligence as a matter of routine (advances, vehicle checks, threat assessments, etc.). If “A for effort” was the rule in kindergarten (guard service), it sure won’t in college (EP) anymore. And yet people seem to expect constant pats on the back and raises for lackluster performance in a field where the stakes are so high and “good enough” doesn’t cut it. Reality-checks like this article are a necessity.

  • Bert Baker

    Great Post Harlan!!! People don’t pay attention so how would they pay attention to detail for a client. Great stuff sir!!!

  • http://www.icepltd.com Doc Rogers

    Great article Hucky; I like the way you play devil’s advocate as the HR person (ha,ha). Great learning experience! Muchas gracias senor and God speed.

  • Dave Hutchinson

    Thanks for the article, Hucky. To answer your question, the first mistake this guy makes is leaving home!
    Seriously, he should have prepared more. As a rule, even if you think the job is a perfect fit, there are some homework tasks to do BEFORE you send a resume. For instance, READ the advertisement carefully. According to the book, “Don’t Send A Resume” your cover letter (or the resume itself) will be more effective if you use some of the same language that’s in the ad. That may mean writing a different resume for each potential client. It would definitely get attention.
    If he had done that homework, it would have eliminated the plethora of mistakes that were to follow.
    That would not include the fact that the resume was way too long (one page is enough, if possible) and in a fancy script… covering irrelevant information. Who cares what he did when he was twelve?
    Most executives want to be able to look at the resume and cover letter as quickly as possible.
    There are others. You ask how many? I ran out of fingers!

  • Alonzo Gomez

    Great comments above: tailoring cover letter and resume is a must. And I also stick to the one-page format, but many high-end positions such as corporate EP jobs do require more in-depth resumes.

    On the other hand, employers rarely make it easy to apply properly (do homework and tailor). It seems that many want to keep their cards close to the vest (not disclosing company name and “hiding” behind anonymous email addresses) while asking for copies of certs and ID right off the bat. If I can’t find out who’s hiring, I personally pass rather than send a shot in the dark (to a potential scammer or company/client I want nothing to do with).
    Just to say that sometimes applicants don’t get much to work with. This doesn’t excuse lies, errors and other no-no’s… :)

  • Dave Hutchinson

    Information you don’t feel comfortable leaving could be covered with “available upon request”. Some have done that with references.

  • Alonzo Gomez

    That’s a good point, Dave. I do use that a lot. I hear that listing references is a little “passe” too, by the way, and have done away with this for a few years now. I prefer to reserve details for the interview – to me the cover/resume combo is a hook and assurance that hiring criteria are met, not much more.
    Still, not following the prescribed protocol, as in stating that I’d bring all creds in person if they were interested enough to see me, has yet to net me a response. So I usually take a pass if I don’t like the terms (“send copies of passport and birth certificate to guess.who@yahoo.com or you won’t be considered”). lol