Friday, September 26, 2008


Searching for a job is no easy task. In times past, Americans could easily find work as long as they were physically able and motivated. Today, physical capacity and motivation are not enough. Even great talent will not guarantee you a job in a shrinking market. As the financial industry faces crisis this month, this trend will only continue. Here at Reason, Commerce, Justice & Free Beer, we understand what you are going through. We salute you for getting up every morning, reviewing your resume, buying presentable resume stock paper and envelopes, making copies, paying postage to send out your resume, checking your email, returning phone calls, dry cleaning your interview attire, attending interviews, writing cover letters, maintaining an “employment search log” and diligently reviewing the employment sections in all major newspapers. Salute yourself for your work ethic. One day, you will serve an employer and earn a wage. On the happy day you receive your offer, all your toils will have been worth the effort.

But not all news can be good news. Even after sending your resume to dozens of potential employers, only a handful will ask to see you. And among those, many will reject you, even after an interview. In these circumstances, it is easy to feel discouraged. You will wonder what factor caused your rejection. Do not give in to these temptations: Employers have their reasons. They are not for you to know. And they should not dampen your zeal to serve them.

In order to enrich your job search process, it is important to recognize certain correspondence. When seeking employment, you will send and receive many letters. To be a good job searcher, you must immediately know what a letter means. Additionally, it is important to understand what employers mean in the words they write. Below, we print a sample rejection letter. In it, we hope to show not only the form rejection letters commonly take, but also the criteria employers consider important in making strategic personnel decisions. By understanding a candidate’s unfavorable attributes, it is possible to define and strengthen your positive attributes. To win employment, you must know your audience. And knowing your audience means avoiding what they dislike as much as it means playing to what they like. We hope the following rejection letter will help you avoid discussing topics that most employers dislike.

All employers are different. But they share common ground when it comes to hiring. They want dedication, enthusiasm, obedience, flexibility and “team player” capacity. Blow your own horn, but never project an impression that you are more valuable than the employer’s interests. Show how your individuality will enrich your employer, not yourself. Modesty is a virtue.

September 20, 2008

To : Mr. Jesus Christ, Applicant #452D
From : Mr. Howard F. Swanson, Jr., Human Resources Management Associate
Re : Your Application for Employment at Data-U-Serve Corp.

Dear Mr. Christ,

Thank you for your interest in employment as a Junior Marketing Associate at Data-U-Serve Corp. As you know, Data-U-Serve is the Southeast’s premier provider of corporate data solutions for mid-to-large size special customer service firms. Our company achieved success because it has great team members, and we thank you for your desire to be part of our winning team. We have been winning in the corporate data solution business since 1988. That is a long time.

You recently interviewed in our Clearwater office. Despite your unique background, we regret that we are unable to offer you a position as a Junior Marketing Associate at Data-U-Serve. Our hiring committee considered several factors to reach its decision, and we would like to explain why we are unable to extend you an offer at this time.

At Data-U-Serve, we believe that our customers’ needs take precedence over everything. We work hard to please our customers, and they reward us with their business. Junior Marketing Associates are the frontline team players in reaching out to new customers. They must possess solid verbal communication skills, knowledge of Microsoft Office programs, proven sales ability and flexible, goal-oriented demeanor. Following your interview, we felt that you would not be a good match for our Clearwater marketing team.

Our hiring committee expressed doubts about your ability to reach out to new customers. During your interview, you told us that your greatest achievement in life was “loving your neighbor as much as you loved yourself.” That kind of attitude will not work at Data-U-Serve. Our hiring committee had concerns that you would give as much respect to our many competitors as you would to Data-U-Serve. That is unacceptable. Marketing Associates must play on the Data-U-Serve team. They must never give ear to competitors, let alone “respect” or “love” them. Loving people is not what we do. We are in the corporate data solutions business.

We also worried about your statement that you always ask for others to “forgive your debts,” because “you forgive theirs.” Data-U-Serve is a profitable business. We actively pursue past due accounts. We do not forgive debts, nor do we expect our creditors to forgive our debts. That is not the way business works. If Data-U-Serve practiced your policy, we would not be in business. We would have been bankrupt a long time ago. Furthermore, forgiveness is not a positive attribute for a Junior Marketing Associate. Junior Marketing Associates must actively seek out new customers. Forgiveness or deferral to competitors would hamper your efforts to secure new accounts. To that extent, your dedication to forgiveness gave us grave concerns about your capacity to aggressively locate new customers for Data-U-Serve.

During your interview, our hiring committee asked you whether there was a person you admired and why. You replied that you admired Mahatma Gandhi because he embodied the principle that the “meek shall inherit the earth.” This seriously damaged your chances for employability at Data-U-Serve. Data-U-Serve did not achieve its preeminent position in the corporate data services industry through meekness. We aggressively cultivated new business with a driven, professional team of sales-focused people. In this business, only the strong survive, and we do not give second chances to employees who miss opportunities. Being strong means being aggressive, and your praise for “meek people” led us to believe that you would not seize the initiative in developing new accounts. More specifically, our Marketing Associates cannot be “meek.” They have to go for the throat. Your answers led us to believe that you would not do this. Rather, we got the impression that you would sit at your desk while competitors secured new accounts.

Finally, our hiring committee asked you what you sought in life. Good candidates for Junior Marketing Associate typically answer this question by responding: “Maximum customer satisfaction;” “Successful marketing engagement;” “Profitable and productive customer relationships;” “Award-winning service at minimal cost;” or “Data-U-Serve’s best quarter.” You responded that you sought nothing in particular in life because “your Kingdom was not of this world.”

This mystified our hiring committee. First, the committee did not understand what you meant by “Kingdom.” You are not a King; you are an applicant for Junior Marketing Associate, namely applicant #452D. Second, and more importantly, the committee expressed serious reservations about your focus on something other than the world. Good employees have their feet on the ground on the real world. They have practical, achievable goals. You seem to put your trust in something beyond this world. Such an attitude is completely incompatible with effective, day-to-day business management at Data-U-Serve. At Data-U-Serve, we respond to customer and business concerns on an everyday basis. We do not look beyond the account list or the balance sheet. Our goals are financial. They are achievable in this world. Quite frankly, our committee does not believe that you possess the proper, business-related focus to be a successful Junior Marketing Associate. More troublingly, the committee does not believe that you will be dedicated to Data-U-Serve in all matters. After all, if you focus on something beyond this world, you will not be focused on Data-U-Serve. We require that employees focus exclusively on our company during company time, not something else. That is why we pay you.

Our hiring committee was impressed with some of the accomplishments on your resume. Few of our applicants can claim to have walked on water, healed blindness or risen from the dead. As exceptional as these accomplishments may be, however, they are not relevant to actively marketing corporate data services technology to a broad customer base in the Southeast. We do not ignore your accomplishments. They simply will not be useful in Data-U-Serve’s everyday business. You are certainly a well-rounded, interesting individual, but those are not necessary qualities in a Junior Marketing Associate. Experience in marketing, proven sales ability or a business-related degree would have helped you. Turning water to wine did not.

Thank you again for your interest in employment with Data-U-Serve. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors. As indicated, we are unable to hire you at this time. We will nonetheless retain your resume for 12 months and we will contact you if a suitable position opens during that period.

Sincerely yours,

Howard F. Swanson, Jr.
Human Resources Management Associate, Data-U-Serve Corp.


MaxThrust said...

Several parts of this had me LOL. One of my favorites was "They want dedication, enthusiasm, obedience, flexibility and “team player” capacity."

At 15 1/2 my Father told me "Your Mother worked, I worked, your step-Sister worked, you will work." So I got a job at Jewel food stores, only after getting a job-permit, as that's needed if employed under the age of 16.

After the informational videos of how not to spill blood on customers, I went out to my station as bagger. I was met by a seemingly happy gentleman, who was down with the syndrome. He yelled at me "WELCOME TO THE TEAM!" Evermore I bagged eggs and potato chips on the bottom.

I wonder how that letter would read if you had written it without common platitudes.

"We will nonetheless retain your resume for 12 months and we will contact you if a suitable position opens during that period."

That may have read "I'm in the smallest room in the building. Your resume is now in front of me. Soon it will be behind me."

Balthazar Oesterhoudt said...

Naturally I have developed a caustic distrust of all employment-related language. Nobody likes to hire anyone unless they have to; paying wages is a big expense. All the rhetoric about "creating jobs" underlines the basic problem: Businesses will only hire people when they have surplus cash to pay wages. If they don't, they try to do with the absolute minimum number of employees to maintain profits. Anything extra is waste. And shareholders want gravy, not waste.

All this says nothing about the inherently unfair and exploitive "employee" relationship. What gets me every time is that people SEEK to kiss employers' butts on their resumes, in cover letters and during interviews. The employee not only WANTS to be used for the employer's gain, but sacrifices all his dignity in the massively emasculating process of marketing himself to someone who doesn't want to spend money on a new employee in the first place.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that you constantly read articles on, say, telling you "What to say in an interview" or "10 Things never to put on a resume." My piece, while absurd, closely mirrors the patronizing style you find in those "employment help" pieces. The underlying assumption is that you are a weak, kowtowing person who needs a job, while the employer is the all-knowing judge who gives the thumbs up or down to your meager presentation.